HHS/ASPE. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.Background


Photo of peopleThis Chartbook presents findings from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP). The NSAP is the first-ever survey to provide representative information about the characteristics, adoption experiences, and well-being of adopted children and their families in the United States. All information was reported by the children’s adoptive parents. The findings represent children under age 18 who were adopted and living with neither biological parent. This includes children adopted from foster care, from other domestic sources, and from other countries. Furthermore, the Chartbook includes comparable information on children in the general population for many indicators of well-being, based on data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). While adopted children comprise only a small portion of the overall U.S. child population—about 2 percent—their absolute numbers are sizable, numbering nearly 1.8 million.i  This group of children is of particular concern to policy makers and the public both due to the government’s role in establishing adoptive parent-child relationships as well as the potential vulnerabilities of some segments of this population.  



The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) is a nationally representative survey of U.S. children under age 18. In each sampled household, one child under age 18 was randomly selected. A parent or guardian knowledgeable about the child’s health answered questions by telephone regarding the child’s and the family’s health and well-being and provided information about demographic characteristics. The 2007 NSCH includes information on 91,642 focal children, representing 73.8 million children throughout the United States.

The National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) was an add-on module to the 2007 NSCH. If the focal child in the 2007 NSCH was adopted, an adoptive parent of the child was asked to participate in the NSAP, a 30-minute telephone survey. A total of 2,737 focal children were identified as having been adopted in the 2007 NSCH. NSAP interviews were carried out between April 2007 and June 2008 regarding 2,089 children, representing nearly 1.8 million children throughout the nation. Adopted children who were also living with a biological parent, whose adoptions were assumed to be primarily step-parent adoptions, were excluded from the NSAP.

Additional details about both surveys can be found in the Appendix to this Chartbook.


i Estimate based on weighted data from the NSAP. This estimate excludes children in informal adoptions (i.e., without legally finalized adoptions) as well as those living with at least one biological parent, most of whom are living in step families. Further information about the population of adopted children represented by the NSAP is available in the technical appendix.

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