Adoption USA. A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Race, ethnicity, and gender

11/01/2009

This section reports on demographic indicators related to race, ethnicity, and gender for adopted children and their parents. These include the race and Hispanic origin of adopted children and of their parents, transracial adoption (that is, adoptions in which the race, ethnicity, or culture of origin differs for adopted children and their parents), and the child’s gender. Additionally, for internationally adopted children, we report on children’s region and country of origin. See Appendix Table 3 on page 59 for detailed data on each indicator.

Figure 4. Percentage distribution of all children and adopted children by race and Hispanic origin

Figure 4. Percentage distribution of all children and adopted children by race and Hispanic origin

The race and ethnic distribution of adopted children is different from that of children in the general population. Adopted children are less likely to be white or of Hispanic origin than children in the general U.S. population, and they are more likely to be black;i see Figure 4. The racial distribution of children also varies by type of adoption, with children adopted from foster care most likely to be black (35 percent) and those adopted internationally least likely to be black (3 percent). Children adopted privately from the United States are most likely to be white (50 percent); those adopted internationally are least likely to be white (19 percent). The majority of children adopted internationally are Asian (59 percent). In comparison, very few children adopted from foster care or through private domestic adoptions are Asian; in fact, the proportion is so small that reliable estimates could not be generated. The percentage of adopted children who are Hispanic does not vary by type of adoption; see Figure 5.

Figure 5. Percentage distribution of adopted children by race and Hispanic origin, by adoption type

Figure 5. Percentage distribution of adopted children by race and Hispanic origin, by adoption type

Note: Values corresponding to unreliable percentage estimates have been suppressed in this figure.


The race and ethnic distribution of adopted children is different from that of adoptive parents. Whereas a majority of adopted children are nonwhite, the majority of these children’s parents are white (73 percent). Sixty-three percent of children adopted from foster care have white parents, as do 71 percent of children adopted within the United States, and 92 percent of children adopted internationally.ii A substantial portion of adopted children have black parents, including 27 percent of children adopted from foster care and 19 percent of those adopted privately within the United States; see Figure 6.

Figure 6. Percentage distribution of adopted children by race and Hispanic origin of their parents, by adoption type

Figure 6. Percentage distribution of adopted children by race and Hispanic origin of their parents, by adoption type

Note: Values corresponding to unreliable percentage estimates have been suppressed in this figure.


Given that the racial and ethnic distribution of adopted children differs from that of their parents, it is not surprising that four out of ten children have parents who report that they and their spouse or partner (if they have one) are of a different race, ethnicity, or culture than their child. Children adopted internationally are most likely to be in transracial placements (84 percent), compared with 28 percent of children adopted from foster care and 21 percent of those adopted privately from within the United States; see Figure 7.

Figure 7. Percentage of adopted children who were adopted transracially, by adoption type

Figure 7. Percentage of adopted children who were adopted transracially, by adoption type


Children’s gender distribution varies substantially by adoption type. Overall, about half of adopted children are male (49 percent), but gender distribution varies by adoption type. Only onethird of children adopted internationally are male (33 percent) compared with a slight majority of children adopted from foster care and through private domestic adoptions (57 and 51 percent, respectively). Among internationally adopted children, only 19 percent of Asian children are male, reflecting the large number of girls adopted from China.

Among internationally adopted children, more than twice as many were born in China as in any other individual country. Specifically, 33 percent of internationally adopted children lived in China prior to their adoption; the second-most common country of origin is Russia, with 13 percent. Eleven percent of the internationally adopted children originate from Guatemala, and another 11 percent originate from South Korea. Other countries from which internationally adopted children originate include India, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Ukraine, Philippines, and Ethiopia. All had too few children to generate reliable estimates of their frequency.

MEASURES PERTAINING TO CHILDREN’S RACE, ETHNICITY, AND GENDER

Children’s race and Hispanic origin

Parents’ race and Hispanic origin

Child gender

Transracial adoption: We categorized children as having been transracially adopted if their parents reported that their child was “of a different race or ethnicity or from a different culture” compared to themselves and their spouse or partner (if they had one).

Region of origin: Regions from which internationally adopted children came include Asia, Europe, South America, North America, and Africa. Other regions had too few adoptions to be reported separately.

Country of origin: Countries from which internationally adopted children most commonly originated include China, Russia, Guatemala, and South Korea. We grouped together the fifth through tenth most common countries of origin, including India, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Ukraine, Philippines, and Ethiopia. Other counties had fewer adoptions to the United States, so reliable estimates could not be calculated.

 

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