Statistics About Infant Adoption and Adoption Practitioners

by Laura Christianson

Each year in the United States, approximately 14,000 women and a growing number of men make an agonizing parenting decision that they hope will provide their children with the best possible future: They place their babies for adoption.

A comprehensive study, conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, examines contemporary infant adoption, particularly as it relates to birth parents.

Here are some interesting statistics from the study regarding infant adoption:

More than 135,000 adoptions take place annually. About 13,000 to 14,000 of these adoptions involve babies who are voluntarily relinquished domestically.

Of non-stepparent adoptions each year, approximately 59 percent are from the child welfare system, 26 percent are international, and 15 percent are voluntarily relinquished domestic infant adoptions.

Statistics About Adoption Practitioners

About half of all infant adoptions are carried out by independent practitioners, who facilitate birthparents’ placing their children directly with potential adoptive parents.

Service fees for infant adoptions typically range from $20,000 to $35,000.

The vast majority of adoption agencies, as well as independent practitioners, offer open adoptions, in which identifying information is exchanged. Many of the adoptions they arrange also are mediated adoptions, in which ongoing information is exchanged through the agency.

Currently, 20 states permit legally enforceable adoption contact agreements, but the laws in only 13 of those states apply to infant adoptions. (Penalties for violation of such contracts include fines, but never return of the child).

In some states, attorneys paid by and representing the prospective adoptive parents also may represent the women (and men when they are involved) considering placing their children. This practice of dual representation raises acute ethical and practical concerns.

At least 28 states specify a waiting period after the birth of a child before legal relinquishments can be signed; only six states mandate a waiting period longer than three days.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia have adoption laws providing a specified number of days after the signing of a relinquishment (ranging from three to 30 days) during which parents can revoke their decisions without having to prove fraud or best interests of the child.

In the next post: Statistics about Birth Parents

Source: “Safeguarding The Rights And Well-Being Of Birthparents In The Adoption Process” by Susan Livingston Smith, Program and Project Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, November 2006.

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