In this section, the Chartbook reports on whether or not adopted children had ever lived with their birth family and where they lived immediately prior to living with their adoptive parents. It also includes information on children’s relationships to their parents prior to the adoption. (Prior relationships could include that they were already related to the child, that they had known the child previously, and—for adoptions from foster care—that they were foster parents to the child.) See Appendix Table 2 on page 58 for detailed data on each indicator.
Figure 2. Percentage of adopted children who have ever lived with birth family members, by adoption type
Forty-three percent of adopted children lived with their birth families at some time prior to their adoption; see Figure 2. Of these, about half lived with their birth families immediately before the adoptive placement (22 percent of all adopted children). The proportion of children who have ever lived with their birth families varies across adoption types; it is highest for those adopted from foster care (59 percent) and lowest for children adopted internationally (25 percent). For children adopted by relatives, these figures are considerably higher. Seventy-three percent of children adopted by relatives had ever lived with their birth family. In contrast, among children adopted by non-relatives, 53 percent of those adopted from foster care ever lived with their birth family, as did 17 percent of those adopted privately from the United States; see Figure 3.
Figure 3. Percentage of children adopted from foster care and from other domestic sources who have ever lived with birth family members, by pre-adoptive relationship to parents
Children’s pre-adoptive placement differs depending on adoption type. The majority of children adopted privately in the United States were placed with their adoptive family as newborns or when they were younger than one month old (62 percent). In contrast, children adopted internationally overwhelming lived in congregate care facilities prior to the adoptive placement (70 percent) or with a foster family (24 percent). Seventy-eight percent of children adopted from foster care lived with a foster family or in some other foster care setting away from their birth family prior to their adoptive placement. Among children adopted from foster care, 44 percent lived with a foster family other than their adoptive family immediately prior to their adoptive placement, and 11 percent lived in congregate care.
For many children adopted from foster care, their adoptive family was likely their only foster placement. Although more than half of children adopted from foster care were living with another foster family or in congregate care prior to living with their adoptive families, a substantial proportion were not previously in foster care settings. Specifically, 22 percent lived with their birth family, and an additional 22 percent were placed with their adoptive families in their first month of life. These figures suggest that for more than four out of ten children adopted from foster care, their adoptive parents may have been their only foster placement setting.
Among children adopted from foster care and from other domestic sources, adoption by relatives or by adults who knew the child prior to the adoptive match is common. More than two out of ten children adopted from foster care (23 percent) were adopted by relatives, and an additional 22 percent were adopted by nonrelatives who knew the child prior to the adoptive match. For other domestic adoptions, relative adoption is even more common. Of privatelyadopted U.S. children, 41 percent were adopted by relatives and an additional 7 percent were adopted by non-relatives who previously knew the child. Reports of internationally adopted children adopted by relatives were too rare to yield a reliable percentage estimate.