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What do Americans think about adoption?

The National Adoption Attitudes Survey finds that while positive perceptions of adoption are on the rise, willingness to adopt is not.

In this groundbreaking survey sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a total of 1,416 adult Americans were surveyed to gauge the public's opinion about adoption--and to provide information necessary to change public policies, improve adoption practices, and inform the media about adoption. Some of the questions were taken from the Donaldson Institute's 1997 Benchmark Adoption Study, enabling researchers to measure how attitudes are changing. In conducting this research, the sponsors were particularly interested in what might influence Americans to adopt-and what might deter them. The results will be used to bring waiting children into the permanent homes and loving families they urgently need.

Positive opinion of and familiarity with adoption have grown significantly in five years.
*Two-thirds of Americans now have both a favorable opinion about adoption and personal experience with it, up from just over half of all Americans only five years ago. Favorable opinions about adoption are now found across all demographic categories.

Consideration of adoption has not grown at the same rate.
*Four out of ten (39%) Americans have considered adopting children, up only slightly from 36% in 1997.

Americans voice strong support for adoption in a number of ways.
*78% think that the government should be doing more to encourage adoption.
*95% think adoptive parents should receive the same maternity and paternity benefits as biological parents.

Concerns about behavioral and health issues are stronger impediments to adoption consideration than issues of race or age of the child.
*Over three-fourths of Americans would consider adopting a child of a different race.
*However, less than half would consider adopting a child with behavioral problems.
*Americans believe that adopted children in general (45%) and adopted children from foster care specifically (68%) are more likely to have social and behavioral problems than biological children.

Many concerns about adoption reflect misperceptions.
*82% would be concerned that the birthparents might take the child back, even though such instances are extremely rare in a finalized adoption.
*Despite a $10,000 federal adoption tax credit, low- to no-cost foster care adoptions, and growing employer benefits, 50% say that the cost of adoption is a major concern.

Attitudes about recent trends in adoption, such as the growth of open adoption, international adoption, and transracial adoption, are mixed.
*Only 21% think open adoption is a good idea in most cases, while about 47% think it can be a good idea in some cases
*50% believe that international adoptions are easier to complete than domestic adoptions, while 47% believe that children adopted internationally are more likely to have significant medical or emotional problems.
*Most Americans disapprove of interracial adoption. This is true whether the child is African-American or white, and whether the adoptive parents are African-American or white.

You can find the complete results of this study on and

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