The first federal survey of both men and women on adoption challenges stereotypes and offers some surprising findings:
The results from the report issued Thursday contradict beliefs about the most common adoption scenarios, said the author, Jo Jones of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The perception is it’s a childless white couple that adopts from overseas, but that’s not what I found,” she said.
Minority women are seeking to adopt children more often than white women, the survey found.
Researchers also reported that women who have never married adopt children much more often than single men do. But overall, men adopt children at more than twice the rate women do, due largely to men marrying women with children from a previous relationship.
Overall, nearly 1.3 million men have adopted a child, compared with an estimated 613,000 women.
That’s not really surprising, said Jeff Katz, a consultant on adoption and foster care issues who formerly headed a Rhode Island adoption agency.
“More women get custody of children in divorce cases, so after a divorce the mom is living with her kids and she meets a man, and they get married, and he adopts her children,” Mr. Katz said.
About 2.5 percent of U.S. children younger than 18 are adopted, according to the CDC, citing a 2000 statistic. That is equivalent to about 1.6 million children.
The new report is based on interviews of about 12,000 men and women from March 2002 through February 2003. The interviews were done in person at participants’ homes.
The government has periodically surveyed women about adoption since the early 1970s, but not men.
“This is the very first national data we’ve had on men’s lifetime adoption experiences,” said Miss Jones, a statistician with the CDC’s national Center for Health Statistics.