The United States of America adopts the highest amount of children around the world. Since 1999, a total of 2,67,098 individuals have been adopted from around the world by US parents.

There is also a general trend among these children to be female. Female adoptees made up 61.1% of the total adoptees from 1999-2017. However, with changing adoption practices this is also changing.

The year 2016 marked the first year that male adoptees were higher than female adoptees, making up 51% of the total adoptions undertaken that year.

This slant for female adoptees may also be due to China making a huge percentage of the total adoption since the 90s. Chinese adoptees make up 30% of the total adoptees adopted by US parents from 1999-2017. Other major countries for adoption include Russia, Congo, Ukraine, Ethiopia, South Korea, Guatemala, and Kazakhstan.

Adoption has been falling in the past few years. In the past decade, adoption has fallen by 74%. Research shows that this may be a supply and demand problem. While there is still demand for adoption in the United States, a lot of the adoption receiving countries are adopting stricter policies to restrict American abortion, especially of younger kids. They often cite instances of abuse as their reasoning to revisit their adoption policies.

However, studies find that it is often much deeper, for example, stricter domestic regulations in these countries, implementation of the Hague Convention statutes, rising nationalism and changing foreign policy, demand for domestic adoption and lastly efforts to reduce cases of child abuse.

Russia which was once a major avenue for intercountry adoption has restricted American adoption since the past four years for political reasons. On the other side, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Nepal have been banned by the United States after uncovering document fraud and baby trafficking in these countries. Guatemala has stopped intercountry adoption altogether after being accused of malfeasance.

Data collected by the State Department also shows that a majority of the children adopted are often young children below the age of 2.

There has been a push by adoption receiving countries for the adoption of older children over younger children. Research has found that older children are more likely to have attachment disorders and thus unable to connect with their adoptive parents.


China makes up the largest percentage of individuals adopted by the United States in 2016, at 2231. The Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked second and Ukraine and South Korea were third and fourth respectively. On average, 40% of the adoptees in 2016 were from China.

This is also the first year that the percentage of male adoptees from China outweigh the female adoptees. Overall, there was a general trend for female adoptees. Many studies have attributed this to China's aggressive one-child policy and traditional Chinese preference for boys over girls.

This is believed to be a result of the end of the one-child policy in 2015. Data by the Department of State also shows a general preference towards a girl over a boy till 2016. Overall, from 1999-2016, male adoptees make up only 14% of the total individuals adopted from China.

Overall, adoption from China is falling rapidly. In the past four years, adoption from China has fallen by 37%. This can be attributed to falling supply of adoption as the government tightens lax laws and starts implementing stricter adoption policies, often with a nationalistic bent. China signed on to the Hague Convention treaty in 2006 and has since imposed stricter policies on adoption.

While claimed to be better for the children, some of these new adoption policies are arbitrary, for example, a ban on adoption by foreigners who are unmarried, above 50, overweight or on antidepressants. Harvard’s Adoption expert Elizabeth Bartholet believes that these measures have broader geopolitical aims and are enforced to change the perception of China globally from a third world nation to a first world nation.

There is also an increase in the age group of the adoptees as China pushes for more adoption of elder adoptees over young children.