Adoptions From Foster Care in 2019

Posted November 18, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Update nationaladoptionday 2021

As nation­al atten­tion turns to the impor­tance of pro­vid­ing per­ma­nent, lov­ing adop­tive fam­i­lies for fos­ter chil­dren and youth who can­not return to their fam­i­lies, the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter pro­vides the lat­est sta­tis­tics about this vul­ner­a­ble population.

Stats on Kids Wait­ing to Be Adopted

In 2019, 122,637 chil­dren were wait­ing in fos­ter care for adop­tion in the Unit­ed States. Among sev­er­al pos­i­tive trends, the share of kids wait­ing 5 years or more to be adopt­ed is down — one in 10 kids had been wait­ing 5 or more years to be adopt­ed in 2019, a drop from about one in four in the ear­ly 2000s. In 2019, a third of kids had been wait­ing 1 to 2 years and, in less pos­i­tive news, near­ly half (45%) had been wait­ing 2 to 4 years.

Addi­tion­al sta­tis­tics on chil­dren await­ing adop­tions in 2019:

At the nation­al lev­el, African Amer­i­can and Amer­i­can Indi­an chil­dren con­tin­ue to be over­rep­re­sent­ed among chil­dren await­ing adoption—and chil­dren in fos­ter care, generally—compared to their share of the total child population.

Stats on Kids in Child Wel­fare Who Get Adopted

In 2019, one in four (26%) chil­dren who left fos­ter care in the Unit­ed States was adopt­ed by a fam­i­ly, up from 17% in 2000. The per­cent­age of chil­dren who were placed with fam­i­ly (adop­tive fam­i­ly or parent/​family mem­ber) remained fair­ly steady, declin­ing slight­ly from 84% in 2000 to 79% in 2019.

In a broad­er mea­sure* of adop­tions, just over 66,000 chil­dren and youth in the child wel­fare sys­tem were adopt­ed in 2019, a con­sid­er­able increase from about 50,600 in 2013.

Oth­er find­ings about chil­dren who were adopt­ed from the child wel­fare system:

Adop­tions Sta­tis­tics in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter, Includ­ing Data by State and Territory

More Data and Resources on Adop­tions and Fos­ter Care

See all reg­u­lar­ly updat­ed sta­tis­tics on adop­tions, fos­ter care and more in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter, and explore the Foundation’s many pub­li­ca­tions, blog posts, webi­na­rs and oth­er resources relat­ed to child wel­fare and adop­tions, includ­ing:

Stay up to date on the lat­est news and infor­ma­tion by sign­ing up for our child wel­fare newslet­ter.

* Note: Chil­dren in the child wel­fare sys­tem who were adopt­ed includes the fol­low­ing broad­er group of adop­tions, includ­ing chil­dren who may not be in fos­ter care:

  1. Chil­dren placed for adop­tion by a pub­lic child wel­fare agency;
  2. Chil­dren who have been in the pub­lic fos­ter care sys­tem and were placed for adop­tion by a pri­vate agency under con­tract with the pub­lic child wel­fare agency; and
  3. Chil­dren in whose adop­tion the pub­lic child wel­fare agency was involved but who had not been in the pub­lic fos­ter care sys­tem (e.g., chil­dren who received Title IV‑E funds for non­re­cur­ring costs of adoption).

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