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Adoption Alive and Well In America: Census

Adopted children better off economically, Census finds

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About 2.1 million adopted children under age 18 now live in American households, many of them with families who tend to be better off economically than those of biological children, according to a first-ever nationwide adoption profile by the Census Bureau.

The report, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000, (PDF 529k), shows that adopted children lived in households with a median income of $56,000 a year versus $48,000 for biological children, and 78 percent of adopted children lived in homes that were owned by their adoptive parents versus 67 percent of biological children.

Data for the report came from Census 2000, which for the first time, included "adopted son/daughter" as one of the options under the relationship- to-householder question separate from "natural born son/daughter" and "stepson/stepdaughter."

According to the report, among the 1.7 million households with adopted children, 82 percent had just one adopted child while 15 percent had two adopted children. Just 3 percent had three or more adopted children.

The proportion of children under 18 who were adopted showed little variation by region or state. The percentage in the Midwest (2.6 percent) was slightly higher than in the other three regions (2.4 percent each). By state, percentages ranged from about 2.0 percent in Delaware, California, Texas and Louisiana to 3.9 percent in Alaska.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • About 7-in-10 adopted children under 18 were living with non-Hispanic white householders and nearly 2-in-10 were of a different race than the family householder.

  • For children under 18, the householder parents of biological and stepchildren were, on average, 38 years old while householder parents of adopted children were about five years older.

  • Thirteen percent of adopted children of all ages were foreign-born (258,000), with nearly half of them (48 percent) born in Asia, about one-third (33 percent) in Latin America and about one-sixth (16 percent) in Europe.

  • Korea was the largest single-country source of foreign-born adopted children, accounting for about 57,000 or a little more than one-fifth (22 percent) of foreign-born adopted children of all ages.

    Responding to the report, Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council For Adoption, is quoted in USA Today as stating "Clearly adoption is alive and well in America today... No adopted child should feel alone."

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