Who Places Children for Adoption? Quick Facts

How many women place their children for adoption?

Approximately two percent of unmarried women place their children for adoption. The percentage of premarital births placed for adoption has decreased since the 1970s:

from 1952 to 1972, 8.7 percent of all premarital births were placed for adoption.
from 1973 to 1981, this percentage fell to 4.1 percent.
from 1982 to 1988, it fell further to 2 percent.

Are there any statistics on birth fathers?

Experts point out that only a very small percentage of birth fathers have taken an active part in the decisions surrounding adoption. But some agencies report that in recent years, at least 25 percent have included active involvement of birth fathers.

Who are the mothers who place their children?

Women who voluntarily place their children for adoption are likely to have greater educational and vocational goals for themselves than those who keep their children in similar circumstances. Birth mothers who plan for their child's adoption often come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Most are also from intact families which have not experienced teenage pregnancies and support placing the baby. Women whose mothers completed at least one year of college were three times more likely to place their babies for adoption than women whose mothers did not complete high school.

Birth mothers who place their children tend to be between 17 to 30 years old and have no more than a high school education. Most are not related to the adoptive parents. Many mothers, though, have some contact with the adoptive family and are involved in the selection of the parents. Fifteen percent of recent births to never-married women and 18 percent of those to formerly married were unwanted by the mother at time of conception.

What determines the number of children available for adoption?

Fewer women are placing their children for adoption than in the past. After abortion was legalized in 1973, a sharp drop occurred in placement rates among white women; rates for minority women who place their children have remained relatively stable.

The continuing decline in placement rates also reflects the diminishing stigma attached to unwed parenthood. In addition, the proportion of teens placing their children for adoption has declined sharply over recent decades. Other factors influencing the numbers of placements are the declining pregnancy rate and increasing use of contraceptives.

Research has not shown that women are choosing to abort their children rather than place them for adoption. Although the adoption rate has remained relatively steady, nationwide abortion rates have continued to decline since 1990.

Skyrocketing use of drugs and alcohol, leading to higher numbers of drug-exposed children, has been targeted as a primary factor in the increase in children placed in out-of-home care in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Read essays by real-life birth parents at Adoption Central

Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse

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