Adoption USA. A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Family structure

11/01/2009

This section describes the structural characteristics of families in which adopted children live. Specifically, we report whether or not adopted children have birth siblings and whether any of those children had also been adopted by the child’s parents. In addition, parents’ marital status and whether the parents were married at the time of the adoption, the total number of children under 18 in the household, and the presence of birth and adopted children are reported. See Appendix Table 5 on page 62 for detailed data on each indicator.

Seventy-one percent of adopted children have known birth siblings. Of these, 29 percent have birth siblings also adopted by the adoptive parent; see Figure 10. The percentage of all adopted children who have birth siblings also adopted by their parents varies across adoption types. The percentage is higher for children adopted from foster care (36 percent) than for those adopted privately from other domestic sources (15 percent) or internationally (7 percent); see Figure 11. Knowledge of children’s birth siblings also varies by adoption type. Parents of internationally adopted children are less likely than parents of children adopted from the United States to have reported knowing of birth siblings. Thirty-one percent of internationally adopted children had parents who knew of birth siblings, compared with 89 and 80 percent for foster care and private domestic adoptions, respectively.i

Most adopted children live with two married parents. Like children in the general U.S. population, about seven out of ten adopted children live in families with two married parents, one or both of whom may be adoptive parents. Children adopted internationally are most likely to have two married parents (82 percent), while children adopted through private domestic sources are least likely (59 percent);20 see Figure 12. Thirty-nine percent of adopted children live with one adoptive parent in the family.21

Many adopted children are the only child in the household. Thirty-eight percent of adopted children are the only child in the household under 18.ii This varies by adoption type, with privately adopted U.S. children most likely to be the only child in the household (48 percent, compared with 27 and 37 percent of foster care and international adoptions, respectively). Conversely, children adopted from foster care are the most likely to live in households with three or more children (40 percent, compared with 16 percent each of children adopted privately from the United States and internationally).

Children adopted from foster care tend to have more complex family structures than children adopted from other sources. Forty percent of children adopted from foster care live in families with adopted and birth children, while 21 percent of privately adopted U.S. children and 10 percent of internationally adopted children have this family structure; see Figure 13. Children adopted privately from the United States and children adopted internationally are more likely than children adopted from foster care to be the only child in the family (24 and 23 percent, respectively, compared to 11 percent).

Figure 10. Percentage distribution of adopted children by existence of birth siblings; percentage distribution of adopted children with birth siblings by whether of not parent also adopted child’s birth sibling(s)

Figure 10. Percentage distribution of adopted children by existence of birth siblings; percentage distribution of adopted children with birth siblings by whether of not parent also adopted child’s birth sibling(s)

Figure 11. Percentage of adopted children with birth siblings also adopted by parent, by adoption type

Figure 11. Percentage of adopted children with birth siblings also adopted by parent, by adoption type

Figure 12. Percentage of children with married parents, by adoptive status and by adoption type

Figure 12. Percentage of children with married parents, by adoptive status and by adoption type

Figure 13. Percentage of adopted children whose parents have other adopted children and biological children

Figure 13. Percentage of adopted children whose parents have other adopted children and biological children

MEASURES PERTAINING TO FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS AND FAMILY STRUCTURE

Child’s birth siblings: We reported on whether or not children have biological siblings, in combination with whether or not the children’s parents have also adopted the child’s siblings. Categories are based on parental responses to several questions about whether the adopted child has birth siblings including half siblings, whether those siblings were available for adoption, and whether the parent adopted the siblings. A substantial portion—15 percent—of children have parents who said “I don’t know” in response to the question about the existence of birth siblings. Additionally, some children whose parents responded “no” to the question likely have birth siblings of whom their parents are not aware. Therefore, in contrast to other measures included in this Chartbook, we included the “I don’t know” response as an explicit category for this measure.

Parents’ marital status: We reported on the marital status of children’s parents, regardless of whether both parents (if the child had two parents) had each adopted the child.

Family structure: We reported whether children are living with one or two adoptive parents, as well as the marital status of those parents.

Number of children under 18 in household: We reported the number of children currently living in the household, excluding any of the parents’ children who might have been living elsewhere.

Presence of birth and adoptive children in family: We examined whether the child was the only child in the family, or whether the child had siblings also adopted by his or her parent and/or siblings who were biological children to his or her parent.

 

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