Kids for Adoption: Facts, Statistics, and Raising Awareness

Thinking about adopting a child? Learn about the facts surrounding kids for adoption, and figure out how to participate in National Adoption Awareness Month. 
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Did you know that 2.3 percent of minors live with adoptive parents? That’s 2,072,312 children under age 18, according to data compiled by the United States Census Bureau in 2010. Even so, there are still thousands of children hoping to join a loving and supportive family. Check out the statistics you need to know about kids for adoption, with information on how to find them.

How Many Kids Are in Need of Adoption?

The Children’s Bureau recently released the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report for 2016. This data gives an overview of kids for adoption as of September 30, 2016.

  • Number of children in the foster care system = 437,465
  • Number of children waiting to be adopted = 117,794  (Many kids in the foster care system have other long-term plans, like reuniting with a parent or living with another relative)
  • Average age = 7.7 years old
  • Average time in foster care = 31.2 months
  • Gender breakdown = 52% male and 48% female

A majority of kids waiting for adoption live in foster family homes, either run by relatives or non-relatives. Others live in group homes, institutions, pre-adoptive homes, or supervised independent living situations. 

To view the data in more detail, check out the AFCARS Report here.

How to Find Kids for Adoption

The decision to put a child up for adoption isn’t always easy, but many birth mothers simply want the best for their babies. Oftentimes they can’t financially or emotionally support a child on their own. According to the National Adoption Center, there are several types of adoption, including agency adoption, independent adoption, and adoption from foster care.

  • Agency adoption: The parents adopt a child through a licensed private or public agency, which handles the logistics. Private agencies have both domestic and international programs, and they usually work with pregnant women seeking a new home for their baby. Public agencies help place older children, sibling groups, or children with special needs – many of whom were taken from their birth parents by the state social services department and currently reside in foster care.

  • Independent adoption: Parents adopt a child through an attorney or other independent party. The adoptive parents become legal guardians shortly after birth, since agencies aren’t usually involved. As a downside, however, many birth parents change their minds after the child is born.

  • Adoption from foster care: Prospective parents can foster a child with the hopes of adopting him/her, once it becomes legal. A public agency usually oversees the process.

  • RELATED: The Adoption Process: Agency vs. Independent Adoption

Adoption Awareness

November is National Adoption Awareness Month – an initiative put together by the Children’s Bureau to raise awareness of the foster children needing permanent families in America. The 2018 theme is "In Their Own Words: Lifting Up Youth Voices," which focuses on teenagers in the foster care system. According to childwelfare.gov, “It is well known that teenagers are less likely to be adopted, often because of their age, and are much more likely to age out of foster care without strong or stable family support. Securing lifelong connections for teens in foster care, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.”  Check out the National Adoption Awareness Month website for resources, tips, and ways to support the initiative.

On November 9, people across the globe come together for World Adoption Day, which seeks to celebrate family, raise funds, and spark awareness about the19 million kids for adoption worldwide. Explore the official website to learn about events organized by ambassadors. You can also show support through social media; simply draw a smiley face on your hand and post a picture of it to your feed. Make sure to use the hashtag #WorldAdoptionDay! 

Similarly, November 17 is National Adoption Day, organized by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and The Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network. On this day, policymakers and advocates come together to finalize adoptions and celebrate the foster care system. Their goal of raising awareness has proven successful; in fact, nearly 5,000 children in foster care were adopted in 2017 from the cause. To learn more, visit the National Adoption Day website here.


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