Simplifying A Complex Process

Adoption trends in America: prevalence and cost

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Adoption

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there were close to 11,000 children in state foster care at the end of fiscal year 2021. In contrast, there were less than 5,500 licensed foster homes and less than 1,700 adoptions from foster care that year. There were over 2,200 children legally ready for adoption that year. These trends are emblematic of the American adoption system nationwide. Far more children enter the system than exit into a permanent household.

Understanding adoption in the U.S.

Nationwide, there were over 391,000 children in foster care during 2021, but fewer than 215,000 exited the system, the lowest total since the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System was founded. Around 600,000 children enter the system each year, and less than 55,000 are ultimately adopted from foster care. There are typically close to 115,000 children still waiting to be adopted by the end of the fiscal year. In 2021, 47% of the foster care exits were reunifications, 12% were guardianships and 25% were adoptions.

Different types of adoptions

Nearly 33% of these children spend over two years in foster care, while nearly half stay for three to four years. Close to 3% of the children in America are adopted. Foster care accounts for 37%, private adoption accounts for 38%, and intercountry adoptions account for 25% of all adoptions. While foster care could cost under $1,000 with all the government subsidies available, private adoption costs typically range from $25,000 to $60,000.

More than 90% of the children adopted from foster care receive some form of adoption subsidy. Private adoptions may be handled through a private agency or facilitated independently with the assistance of an attorney. Some typical expenses include adoption fees, home study costs, legal fees, court documentation fees, and medical expenses.