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
Their adoptions broke. Now they strive to make things better for others.
Tens of thousands of children have suffered the collapse of their birth and adoptive families. These adoptees used that as fuel to improve the system. Read the story
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
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
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
‘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
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
‘You love this country, and it’s taken from you’
Thousands of adoptees who came into the U.S. legally as children found out they aren’t citizens. They face uncertainty and, at worst, deportation. Read the story
‘The problem is poverty’
A new Florida law triggered a flurry of removals for reasons classified as “neglect” but that experts say are often just symptoms of poverty. Read the story
Latest religious freedom battleground: Adoption
Religious interest groups have developed a playbook, called Project Blitz, to help push hundreds of copycat bills through statehouses nationwide. Read the story