This section examines adoptive parents’ motivation to adopt. Examining why parents choose to adopt and how those reasons are similar and different across adoption types may inform agencies’ recruitment efforts. See Appendix Table 15 on page 74 for detailed data on each indicator.
Adopted children typically have parents who said they chose to adopt in order to provide a permanent home for a child, to expand their family, and/or because of infertility. Children’s parents reported whether five possible reasons for choosing to adopt applied to them. The most commonly reported reason was to provide a permanent home for a child in need (81 percent), followed by a desire to expand their family (69 percent), inability to have a biological child (52 percent), wanting a sibling for another child (24 percent), and having previously adopted the child’s sibling (7 percent). Some respondents also volunteered additional reasons for adopting, including being related to the child prior to the adoption, having already formed a bond with or loved the child, loving children in general, and helping a child avoid foster care.
The reported motivation to adopt differs by adoption type. Although the ordering of the frequency with which these reasons are reported is generally the same across adoption types, the percentages of children whose parents reported each reason differ. For example, children adopted internationally are more likely than children adopted from foster care or privately adopted adopt U.S. children to have parents report that they were motivated by a desire to expand their family (92 percent compared with 61 and 60 percent, respectively), by infertility (72 percent compared with 39 and 52 percent), or by a desire for a sibling for their child (36 percent compared with 24 and 16 percent). Additionally, children adopted internationally are more likely than privately adopted U.S. children to have parents report being motivated by a desire to provide a permanent home for a child (90 percent compared with 70 percent); see Figure 35. Among the three adoption types, children adopted from foster care are least likely to have parents report infertility as a motivation for adoption, and most likely to report being motivated because they had previously adopted their child’s sibling.i
Figure 35. Percentage of adopted children by parents’ reasons for choosing to adopt, by adoption type
Note: Values corresponding to unreliable percentage estimates have been suppressed in this figure.