‘A broken system’ leaves tens of thousands of adoptees without families, homes

·2 min read
For tens of thousands of children in the U.S., their ‘forever family’ doesn’t last very long. USA TODAY investigates: Why do adoptions fail?
For tens of thousands of children in the U.S., their ‘forever family’ doesn’t last very long. USA TODAY investigates: Why do adoptions fail?

Broken adoptions have been on the federal government’s radar for more than 20 years.

Yet the government has done little to get its arms around the problem, despite funneling billions of taxpayer dollars a year into adoption assistance for families and incentives for government agencies that boost their adoption numbers.

In a first-of-its kind data analysis and investigation, USA TODAY uncovers what's happening, finding breakdowns at every point in the adoption process.



Broken adoptions shatter promises to 66,000 kids in the US

While the majority of adoptions in the U.S. remain intact, tens of thousands of children suffer the collapse of not one but two families: their birth family and their adoptive family. Read the story

Demetrius Napolitano cycled through 25 foster care placements and five high schools until he aged out of the system.
Demetrius Napolitano cycled through 25 foster care placements and five high schools until he aged out of the system.

How many adoptions fail and why? Here’s what the numbers tell us.

State-by-state data compiled by USA TODAY show that the foster system has become the leading source of adoptees in most places. Explore the data

Buried records

Children adopted from foster care get new identification numbers that hide their histories. The result: No one knows how well each state is fulfilling its mission of finding children their forever homes. Read the story

‘You don’t give up on family’

Mark and Tina Chase had waited for the day their foster daughter Becca would legally become theirs. When that day came, it wasn’t what they’d planned. Read the story

Images of Becca Chase, provided by her family.
Images of Becca Chase, provided by her family.

Now trending: Instagram adoptions

TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are becoming more common channels for hopeful families to find expectant mothers for newborn adoptions. Read the story

Breanne Paquin of Akron, Ohio stands in the nursery in her home that she thought would be for her adopted infant instead she was scammed out of $9,000 after matching with an expectant mom on Instagram.
Breanne Paquin of Akron, Ohio stands in the nursery in her home that she thought would be for her adopted infant instead she was scammed out of $9,000 after matching with an expectant mom on Instagram.

‘I don’t feel worthy’

What happens when an adoption fails? There was no safety net for Anthony Thornton when he left his adoptive home six weeks before he graduated from high school. Read the story

Anthony Thornton
Anthony Thornton

Adoption resources

Parents who have adopted internationally or privately get little support if things go wrong. These mental health and support group resources can help. Learn more

How we did it

USA TODAY scoured a federal database to find 66,000 foster children from broken adoptions and, in some cases, see risk factors linked to failure. Explore the analysis

Help USA TODAY investigate adoption

Are you an adoptee, parent, community member or public and private employee who can help us learn more about adoption issues? We want to hear from you about disrupted and dissolved adoptions.



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‘The problem is poverty’

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Tiffany Clark with her son, Kylhar, 7, and mother, Donna Koenig in Daytona Beach.
Tiffany Clark with her son, Kylhar, 7, and mother, Donna Koenig in Daytona Beach.

Latest religious freedom battleground: Adoption

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Aimee Maddonna, 34, a South Carolina mother of three, was turned away by Miracle Hill Ministries, a state-funded foster care agency, because she is Catholic, not Protestant.
Aimee Maddonna, 34, a South Carolina mother of three, was turned away by Miracle Hill Ministries, a state-funded foster care agency, because she is Catholic, not Protestant.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA TODAY investigates: Why do adoptions fail in the US?

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