Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Family Facts and Figures

Part of Families

These statistics were gathered by Groundspark. 

Millions of children are raised by single or divorced parents, grandparents, guardians, parents of different religions or races, gay or lesbian parents, or adoptive parents.
What do American families look like today?

Single Parents

  • Single parents account for 32 percent of family households with children under 18. (1)
  • More than two million fathers are the primary caregivers of children under 18, a 62 percent increase since 1990. (2)
  • One in two children will live in a single-parent family at some point in their childhood. (3)
  • One in three children is born to unmarried parents. (3)
  • Between 1978 and 1996, the number of babies born to unmarried women per year quadrupled from five hundred thousand to more than two million. (4)
  • The number of single mothers increased from three million to ten million between 1970 and 2000. (1)

Divorced Parents

  • Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. (1)
  • More than one million children each year have parents who separate or divorce. (5)
  • More than half of Americans today have been, are, or will be in one or more stepfamily situations. (6)

Guardians/Foster Care

  • One child in every twenty-five lives with neither parent. (3)
  • An estimated eight hundred thousand children were in foster care during 2005, with another one hundred fifteen thousand waiting to get in the system. About one hundred twenty thousand of these children were waiting for permanent adoptive families. (3)
  • The number of children in foster care who are being cared for by members of their extended family—grandparents, aunts, uncles—continues to increase. In 1993 (the last year that national statistics are available), kinship providers cared for about one-third of the foster children in New York, 40 percent of foster children in California, and nearly half of foster children in Illinois. (7)
  • In 1999, adoptions were finalized for more than seventeen thousand foster children; another eighteen thousand children were living in foster homes, waiting for adoptions to be completed, and about twenty thousand foster children were legally available for adoption but had not yet been placed in their new homes. (7)
  • The 2000 U.S. Census found that 2.4 million grandparents are the primary caregivers for the children in their families. (1)


  • According to national estimates, one million children in the United States live with adoptive parents, and from 2 percent to 4 percent of American families include an adopted child. (9)
  • More than one hundred thousand children are adopted each year. (9)
  • From 1992 to 1999, the number of children adopted from abroad more than doubled from 6,720 to 16,396. (10)
  • Of all adopted children, 23.7 percent are of a different race or ethnicity than their adoptive parents. (11)
  • In 1996, more than 5.2 million children lived with one biological parent and either a stepparent or adoptive parent, up from 4.5 million in 1991. (8)

Mixed-Race Families

  • Interracial families are an ever-growing part of our national landscape. The 2000 Census showed that 2.8 million children under age 18 and nearly seven million Americans of all ages identify as more than one race. (1)
  • There are more than 4.5 million married and unmarried couples in the United States who are mixed racially or ethnically. (1)

Gay-and-Lesbian-Headed/Unmarried Partner Households

  • Between six million and ten million children of bisexual, lesbian, and gay parents currently live in the United States. (12)
  • The number of unmarried partner households has increased by 72 percent in the last decade from three million in 1990 to more than five million in 2000. These figures include both same-sex and different-sex couples. (1)
  • One-third of lesbian households and one-fifth of gay male households have children. (1)
  • The Census Bureau reports that New York has 46,490 same-sex households, Ohio has 18,937 same-sex households, and Missouri has 9,428 same-sex households. (13)
  • During the past decade, the number of same-sex households “grew significantly” in ten states for which figures have been released: more than 700 percent in Delaware and Nevada; more than 400 percent in Vermont, Indiana, Louisiana, and Nebraska; and more than 200 percent in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Montana. (14)