Children adopted from foster care are those who, prior to their adoption, were involved with the child protective services system and removed from their families due to their families’ inability or unwillingness to provide appropriate care. Children adopted from foster care may be a vulnerable group for several reasons. Most children who enter foster care do so because of abuse or neglect by their caregivers. Once in foster care, lack of continued connections to birth parents and/or siblings, adjustments to cultural changes, and multiple placement moves prior to adoption may exacerbate these children’s existing problems or become the causes of new ones.14 Children adopted from foster care have had varied experiences prior to their adoption, and some children who had very negative experiences still manage to thrive. Yet, as a group, the pre-adoptive experiences of children adopted from foster care—many of whom are adopted at older ages than children adopted from other domestic sources or internationally—are likely to make them more vulnerable than other adopted children.
According to the Administration for Children and Families’ analysis of data from the Adoption and Foster Care Reporting and Analysis System, the number of adoptions from foster care has ranged from 51,000 to 53,000 annually between 2002 and 2007.15 Data from the NSAP indicate that as of 2007: (See Appendix Table 1 page 56.)
- About 661,000 children were adopted from foster care, representing 37 percent of all adopted children. Of these,
- 153,000, or 23 percent, were adopted by relatives.
- 262,000, or 40 percent, were adopted by someone who knew them prior to the adoption (including relatives).
- 454,000, or 69 percent, were adopted by someone who was previously their foster parent.
- 355,000, or 54 percent, have special health care needs.
For as many as four out of ten children adopted from foster care, their adoptive family was their only foster placement.iv Children adopted from foster care are more likely than other adopted children to live in families with lower household incomes, but their adoption-related expenses are considerably lower, and most are supported through adoption subsidies.