Since the introduction of adoption legislation in 1956, more than 55 thousand children have been adopted in the Netherlands. They are mainly children born abroad. With 39 thousand, the number of international adoptions is nearly twice as high as the number of domestic adoptions.
Initially domestic adoptions, later international adoptions
In the 1950s and 1960s, most adoptions concerned native Dutch children. Since the 1960s, the number of domestic adoptions grew substantially, partly due to an increase in the number children born to teenage mothers.
With the introduction of the Social Security Act in the 1960s, young, single mothers were in a better position to raise their children. Gradually, it became unacceptable to coerce mothers into giving up their children for adoption. The introduction of the contraceptive pill also helped to substantially reduce the number of domestic adoptions in the mid-1970s. Simultaneously, the number of international abortion soared.
Number of domestic and international adoptions
Since 2000, China is the largest supplier of adopted children
In the mid-1990s, most adopted children came from Colombia. At the end of the twentieth century, China took over the number one position. In 2004, nearly 60 percent of international adoptions involved children of Chinese descent. China’s one-child policy was an important factor in this respect.
Number of adopted children by country of birth, 1995-2009
More girls than boys
Since the introduction of adoption legislation in the Netherlands, more girls than boys have been adopted. Altogether, 29.9 thousand girls and 25.7 thousand boys have been adopted in the Netherlands.
Number of adoptions by gender
Until the end of the twentieth century, the number of adopted boys and girls hardly differed, but since the turn of the century, the number of adopted girls has grown dramatically. This is due to the fact that the bulk of children adopted from China, the largest supplier in the period up to 2009, were girls.
John de Winter, Arie Eilbracht and Arno Sprangers