Adoptions rise 6% in 2011
62% of adopted children are aged one to four years
The latest statistical bulletin from the Office for National Statistics reveals that the number of adoptions in England and Wales in 2011 was 4,734, an increase of 6 per cent since 2010 when there were 4,481 adoptions. During this period adoptions also increased in Scotland, from 466 in 2010 to 494 in 2011.
In 2011, most children adopted (62 per cent) were aged between one and four years, rising from 58 per cent in 2010. The percentage of children adopted who were born outside of marriage increased slightly to 82 per cent in 2011, up from 80 per cent in 2010.
Responding to the figures, Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:
"It is heartening that there has been a slight increase in the number of children being adopted. The priority is, and must remain, placing a child within a loving family home but it should be recognised that this is not always best achieved through adoption.
"For the majority of children in care adoption may not be the most appropriate solution. Social workers must be able to make the best decision for the individual child and should not be deterred from considering all options including special guardianship arrangements.
"While the number of children being adopted has declined over recent years, the number of special guardianships, where a child retains contact with their birth family but is cared for by family or friends, has increased.
"Social workers are working with a system that has five times more children waiting for adoption, than we have adopters. Everyone knows that it is much easier to find loving parents for a newborn child, but we still need more willing people to come forward to help councils find stable homes for groups of siblings, older children and those with health issues or disabilities."
In March 2012 the Government published its Adoption Action Plan which is intended, amongst other aims, to speed up the adoption process.