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About Half of Internationally Adopted Children were Born in Asia

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The United States adopts more children from abroad than any other nation. Over time, the countries from which American parents adopt have shifted. Some of these changes are evident in the age distribution of internationally adopted children.

A new report, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2010, uses multiyear data from the American Community Survey (2009 to 2011) as well as other data sources to provide a look at characteristics of adopted children, such as country of origin.

Thirteen percent of adopted children of the householder were internationally adopted. About half (51 percent) of these internationally adopted children under age 18 were born in Asia, about one-fifth (20 percent) in Latin America and about one-quarter (25 percent) in Europe.

Overall, China was the largest single-country source of internationally adopted children, comprising about 60,000 children or 29 percent of all internationally adopted children  and 57 percent of adopted children from Asia. However, this has changed since the 1990s.

During 2009-2011, 23 percent of adopted children from Asia were born in Korea. For adopted children 18 and over from Asia who lived with their parents, 71 percent were born in Korea. Although only a small proportion of adults live with their parents, these data reflect the dominance of Korea as a source country for adopted children prior to the 1990s (see discussion by Peter Selman).

Turning to adoptions from Europe, the majority (73 percent) of internationally adopted children under 18 came from Russia. When considering all internationally adopted children, we see that at least 20 percent of children in each age group, for those 6 to 17, were born in Russia. For internationally adopted children who were under age 6, however, only 12 percent were adopted from Russia.

From Latin American, the majority (71 percent) of adopted children were born in Guatemala.

When considering all internationally adopted children, just 5 percent of older children age 15 to 17 were born in Guatemala, compared with 25 percent of children under age 6. This shows the growth in Guatemala as a source country for international adoption.

Figure 6 graphs the percent distribution of region of birth by the current age of the child.

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Page Last Revised - November 14, 2022
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