Adoption in the United States is the legal act of adoption, of permanently placing a person under the age of 18 with a parent or parents other than the birth parents in the United States.
Domestic U.S. adoptions can fall into two types: agency and independent. Adoption agencies must be licensed by the state in which they operate. The U.S. government maintains a website, The Child Information Gateway, which lists every state’s licensed agencies. There are both private and public adoption agencies. Private adoption agencies often focus on infant adoptions, while public adoption agencies typically help find homes for waiting children, many of them presently in foster care and in need of a permanent loving home. To assist in the adoption of waiting children, there is a U.S. government-affiliated website, Adopt US Kids, assisting in sharing information about these children with potential adoptive parents. The North American Council on Adoptable Children provides information on financial assistance to adoptive parents (called adoption subsidies) when adopting a child with special needs. Independent adoptions are usually arranged by attorneys and typically involve newborn children. Approximately 55% of all U.S. newborn adoptions are completed via independent adoption.
The 2000 census was the first census in which adoption statistics were collected. The number of children awaiting adoption dropped from 132,000 to 118,000 during the period 2000 to 2004.