Throughout this Chartbook, we present indicators pertaining to the characteristics, experiences, and well-being of adopted children and their families. We highlight a few key findings pertaining to adopted children as a group below:
- Most adopted children (85 percent) are in excellent or very good health. At the same time, the parents of 26 percent of adopted children report that their child experiences moderate or severe consequences of any of 16 possible medical or psychological conditions. Adopted children are more likely than children in the general population to have health insurance (95 compared with 91 percent) and to have had insurance continuously over the previous 12 months (91 compared with 85 percent). The incidence of special health care needs13 is about twice as high in the population of adopted children as it is among the general population of U.S. children (39 compared with 19 percent). However, because adopted children comprise such a small share of the general population, the absolute number of adopted children with special health care needs is far smaller (702,000, compared with 14,136,000 of all U.S. children).
- The majority of adopted children also fare well according to measures of social and emotional well-being. For example, only a small minority of adopted children have ever been diagnosed with disorders such as attachment disorder, depression, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADD/ADHD), or behavior or conduct disorder. (See page 27 for definitions and the prevalence of these disorders.) Furthermore, 88 percent of adopted children ages 6 and older exhibit positive social behaviors. However, compared to the general population of children, adopted children are more likely to have ever been diagnosed with—and to have moderate or severe symptoms of—depression, ADD/ADHD, or behavior/conduct disorder.iii
- The majority of adopted children have enriching experiences in their families, and they are more likely to have some of these positive experiences than children in the general population. For example, they are more likely to be read to every day as young children (68 compared with 48 percent in the general population), sung to or told stories every day as young children (73 compared with 59 percent), or to participate in extracurricular activities as school-age children (85 compared with 81 percent). However, a minority of adopted children have parents who report parental aggravation (for example, feeling the child was difficult to care for, or feeling angry with the child). Parental aggravation is more common among parents of adopted children than among parents in the general U.S. population (11 compared with 6 percent).
- Overall, 87 percent of adopted children have parents who said they would “definitely” make the same decision to adopt their child, knowing everything then that they now know about their child. In addition, more than nine out of ten adopted children ages 5 and older have parents who perceived their child’s feelings towards the adoption as “positive” or “mostly positive.”
- Overall, four out of ten adopted children are in transracial adoptions—that is, their parents reported that both adoptive parents are (or the single adoptive parent is) of a different race, culture, or ethnicity than their child. The majority of adopted children have non-Hispanic white parents but are not themselves non-Hispanic white. Transracial adoptions are most common for children whose families adopted internationally.