According to statistics released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are twice as likely to adopt a child compared to women. The CDC’s data comes from the 2002-2003 interviews conducted on a national level on 12,571 U.S. residents in the age group of 15-44 years. The researchers noted that 2.3% of American men and only 1.1% of women have ever adopted a child.
Study author Jo Jones, PhD, a statistician for the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said, "Folklore tells us it is the childless couples, or the women who want more children in the house, who seek adoption. This tells us there is another face of adoption. It is more complex than we had thought."
The reason for this unexpected role reversal is that when couples divorce, the children are more likely to live with their mothers. When these men and women remarry, the men are more likely than women to adopt the children who come into the family. This could be a way of solidifying and formalizing their relationship with their step children.
Other findings that the researchers reported were that Latino and black women were more likely to be trying to adopt a child as compared to a white woman. They also found that three quarters of the women who looked at adoption were infertile.
The researchers also noted that 89% of the women considering adoption were happy adopting a child with a disability, preferred to adopt a girl and ideally the age should be under two years of age as well as a child who was an only child. Most of these adoption-seeking women weren't fussy and nearly 90% were willing to accept a child with a mild disability, 79% would accept a child 2 to 5 years old, and 75% would accept a set of siblings.
Kim M. Hober, LMSW, an obstetric social worker at New York's University of Rochester Medical Center who has worked with women who place children for adoption said, "We've seen an increase in same-sex couples adopting, and this is a trend all over the country. If you think about same-sex couples, gay men who want children really have to adopt, but gay women can have their own children. I don't see as many gay female couples adopting as gay male couples."
The number of people who never married and adopt a child is also high. 100,000 women who never-married and 73,000 never-married men had adopted children by 2002," she says. "It is not just white married couples who are adopting children." Black Americans are proportionately seen to be more likely to adopt as compared to the white Americans. Men who have never married are less likely to adopt when compared to a currently or previously married man and men who adopt are more likely to have fathered a child than men who do not adopt. Contrarily women, who have never had a child, are more likely to adopt than are those who have given birth.
Race was not a problem in adoption and 84% of white women were willing to adopt a black child while 95% were willing to adopt a child who was neither black nor white. 75% of black women were willing to adopt a white child and 93% were fine with a child who was neither black nor white. Children with severe disabilities and over the age of 13 were not acceptable to two thirds of the women.
124,000 American children in foster care were up for adoption in 2002 whose average age was 8.5 years. These children had already been in foster care for an average of three years. "Because the characteristics of children that women and couples seek to adopt ... may not correspond to the characteristics of children in the foster care system, women and couples may seek children from outside the foster care system to adopt," Jones notes in her report. More than 50,000 foster care children are adopted every year and there are 118,000 to 127,000 adoptions every year in the U.S.