You may not know, but the adoption and child welfare industry in the US was valued at $20.2 billion in 2023—making it the 416th largest industry in the US.

Historically, cultural and societal norms about adoption were restrictive and discreet. Nowadays, adoptions and adoption reunions are seen much more in mainstream discussion. There are also many facts and statistics supporting the changing norms for adoptees, adoptive parents, and their birth parents – all for the better!

1. Nearly all birth mothers want to be found.

Between the 1930s and 1970s, unwed mothers were pressured to put children up for adoption. Many of these women were forced to sign documents saying they would remain anonymous.

In the 1980s, adult adoptees began pressuring governments to unseal their adoption records to allow them to reconnect with their birth parents. Opponents of this movement argued it would violate birth mothers’ rights to privacy. But this was perhaps misguided when we note that survey after survey revealed that a vast majority of birth mothers long to know about children they gave up. A surprising 90% of birth parents wanted their closed adoption records unsealed. Despite opponents of adoption reform’s attempt to hide it, a large majority of birth mothers wanted to know the children they gave up for adoption.

If you’re an adoptee and are wondering if you should search for your birth mother, this surprising statistic certainly indicates a fair chance that she may also be searching for you.

2. Open adoptions are the majority now.

In the last decade, 75% of private domestic adoptions were open adoptions. An open adoption is where the biological mother and adoptive parents have some level of contact before and after the adoption occurs.

Open adoptions became increasingly common after the 1970s. Public views on premarital sex, marriage, and infertility evolved and stigma against unwed mothers decreased. But this wasn’t the case between the 1930s and 1970s. Almost all adoptions during this time were closed adoptions. Biological and adoptive families often have no contact at all because many people thought that hiding an adopted child’s origins protected them from judgment.

Nowadays, even celebrities readily share their experiences with infertility and choices around adoption. As a result, conversations around adoption became common and led to more openness around the topic.

3. Contact between birth parents and adoptees can lead to higher self-esteem.

Research shows that adoptees who have some degree of contact with their birth parents are more likely to develop secure relationship attachments in their lives. Adoptees in open adoptions tend to have higher self-esteem and better mental health outcomes than adoptees in closed adoptions.

But why is it that children in open adoptions fare better than those from closed adoptions? Open adoptions allow adoptees to learn about their birth parents’ lives and circumstances. Access to this information helps adoptees gain context, enabling them to develop empathy for their birth parents’ choices instead of feeling rejected and abandoned.

4. Adoptive parents feel less anxious in open adoptions.

Many adoptive parents worry about losing their adoptive child if their birth parents decide they want their child back. Closed adoptions were popular before, because people believe that this would give the adoptive parents peace of mind that the birth families would not be able to contact them to take back their child.

However, research shows that the opposite is likely true. Adoptive parents who remain in contact with the birth parent report feeling more confident and secure in their family attachments than those without contact.

5. Birth mothers experience less grief with open adoptions.

A 2018 study found that birth mothers who had some contact with the child they put up for adoption remain confident in their decision, even a number of years later. Researchers believe that transparency in knowing how the child is doing reduces the birth mother’s anxiety about her choice. This finding is further proven by a Texas-based study where birth mothers who maintained some contact with the child reported experiencing less grief than those who had no contact.

If you’re a birth parent who is curious about the well-being of a child you gave up for adoption, search our registry and find out if your child is looking to find you too.

6. Most birth mothers marry – but often not the biological father.

Sixty-six percent of birth mothers marry within ten years of placing a child for adoption, and almost always to a new partner. It is quite rare for a birth mother to marry the biological father after placing a child for adoption.

7. Birth mothers usually have more children, after placing a child for adoption.

Within a decade after putting a child up for adoption, 77% of birth mothers have had one or more additional children.

8. A majority of birth mothers don’t hide giving their child up for adoption from their new families.

Many late discovery adoptees worry about disrupting their birth mother’s life by seeking contact. But research shows that this worry is likely unfounded. Most birth mothers are open about the adoption with their spouses and subsequent children.

Ninety-nine percent of birth mothers tell their new partners about having placed their previous child up for adoption and most share the information with other children in the family.

9. Female adoptees are more likely to search for birth parents.

UK research uncovered a surprising gender imbalance among adoptees in closed adoptions who seek their birth parents. Sixty-six percent of adopted women made efforts to find their birth parents. However, only thirty-four percent of male adoptees tried to find their birth parents.

10. Most adoptees searching for birth parents have good relationships with their adoptive families.

Of the adoptees who searched for birth parents, only 23% felt unloved by their adoptive families. Most adoptees (77%) who tried to find their birth parents reported feeling very loved and supported by their adoptive parents.

Are reunions between birth parents and adoptees a good idea?

If you are an adoptee or birth parent looking to reunite with your biological family, these facts and statistics may relieve you of some worries related to a reunion. However, it’s important to know that these statistics may not be specific to your story and that it is up to you to decide if you want to find out more about your biological family.

Are you curious about your birth parents? Filled with questions about a child you placed for adoption? Or trying to support your adopted child on their journey? can help. Birth parents and adoptees can search our registry to determine if their biological family is looking for them too. Registering for an account ensures that you’ll receive an alert if there is a match. Even if you don’t find a match immediately, there is still hope in the future that you will be able to find them.