A USA TODAY investigation found more than 66,000 children adopted in the U.S. from 2008 to 2020 ended up in the foster care system after their adoptions failed.
That includes more than 2,200 children in Indiana.
The first-of-its-kind analysis of federal and state data from all 50 states showed that, on average, 12 adoptions failed every day across the USA.
Those failed cases included children adopted from foster care, as well as through private, relative and international adoptions.
Many of the children from broken adoptions end up back in foster care.
Far from the fairy tale: Broken adoptions shatter promises to 66,000 kids in the US
What did this investigation find? The Indiana broken adoptions — where children enter the child welfare system after an adoption failed — follow the national trends.
USA TODAY’s analysis of federal data found mental health diagnoses or disabilities were more than twice as prevalent in youths who entered the foster care system following a broken adoption than among foster children generally.
In Indiana, children of failed adoptions who entered the child welfare system were more likely to be Black than the general foster care population.
And those children in foster care who had been involved in broken adoptions were also more likely to spend time in group homes or institutional placements, such as residential treatment facilities, than other kids in foster care.
‘It’s exhausting’The USA TODAY investigation features stories from those impacted in Indiana, including the Martin Family who adopted internationally.
In a lawsuit against Chinese Children Adoption International, Barry and Tammy Martin accuse the Colorado-based agency of negligence and fraud by not sharing the backgrounds of two of their three children adopted through the agency.
Uncovering broken adoptions: How USA TODAY did its analysis
“It’s exhausting,” Tammy Martin told USA TODAY. “There’s so many paths that we are on with healing the boys, healing ourselves, helping other families, dealing with a broken system. We wouldn’t be dealing with this broken system if our adoption agency would have been doing things the way they should have.”
What do broken adoptions look like in Indiana?USA TODAY analyzed demographic and behavioral risk factors of children who were adopted out of foster care between 2008-10 and who returned to the system at some point in the next decade.
In Indiana, where 4,419 children were adopted from the foster care system between 2008 and 2010, 95 of the children had been returned to the state’s foster care system by 2020.
That’s a 2% dissolution rate, slightly below the national average calculated from the 16 states used in the analysis.
Those states, including Indiana, provide data that make it possible to track children from foster care to adoption to reentry into the foster system, according to a 2020 report submitted to the federal Administration for Children and Families.
How many adoptions out of the foster care system occur in Indiana every year?Since 2008, Indiana has averaged about 1,600 adoptions a year out of foster care. That number peaked with more than 2,400 adoptions from the foster system in 2019.
In the Hoosier state, foster care adoptions account for nearly half of all adoptions. In 2020, 47% of adoptions were out of the foster care system.
There were 1,861 adoptions in Indiana in 2021, according to DCS.
Total adoptions out of foster care:
Contact IndyStar’s general assignment reporter Rachel Fradette at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter: @Rachel_Fradette.