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Report Number P20-572
Rose M. Kreider, Daphne A. Lofquist
Component ID: #ti1638617670

Introduction

Children live in a variety of family configurations. The type of relationship between children and their coresident parents reflects the way the family was formed. A parent’s remarriage or repartnering may result in a child living with a stepparent. Other parents may build their families through adoption. Ninety-five percent of children under 18 live with one or two biological parents, but children may also live with adoptive parents or stepparents.

This report provides a portrait of adopted children and stepchildren of the householder. Together, these children represent about 7 percent of the 64.8 million sons and daughters under age 18 in 2010. Since the circumstances that lead to children living with an adoptive parent or stepparent differ, the profiles of these groups may be distinct from each other, and from that of children living with a biological parent. In this report, we use several data sources to explore the particular characteristics of each group.

The first section of the report provides estimates of adopted children and stepchildren of the householder, and explains differences among the data sources. The second section of the report provides a profile of the groups and discusses differences in characteristics among stepchildren, adopted children, and biological children of the householder. The third section of the report provides a more focused look at relevant topics for stepchildren and adopted children. We highlight changes in the usage of the term “stepchild,” as well as two groups of special interest among adopted children: internationally adopted children and transracially adopted children. In the United States, these subgroups of adopted children have received considerable attention as their numbers have increased. These are also two of the groups we can distinguish in the data, while it is not possible to determine other subgroups of adopted children, which would also be of interest, such as those adopted by their stepparents, by other relatives, through the foster care system, or those adopted privately.

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