Twice as many children waiting to be adopted as there are adopters

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Children awaiting adoption outnumber adopters by two to one, new figures show.


Research by Adoption Match, released at the start of National Adoption Week 2018 (15-21 October), shows that there are 1,135 children waiting to be adopted, but just 407 families approved to adopt.

Of these, 755 children are under the age of five, compared to 380 children over five. The figures are correct as of this month.

The research, based on data from the Adoption Register for England, which Adoption Match manages on behalf of the Department for Education, also shows:

  • almost a third (29 per cent) of children waiting to be adopted are black and from ethnic minorities.
  • more boys (652) than girls (483) are waiting to be adopted.
  • more than half are in sibling groups of two or more.

During National Adoption Week, Adoption UK, a charity run by and for adopters, is working to debunk some of the common misconceptions around who can and cannot adopt.

It says that there is no upper age limit for adoptive parents, who can be single or unmarried, gay, bisexual or transsexual, disabled and living on benefits.

Adoption UK’s chief executive Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said, ‘When it comes to a child’s development, it’s not the sexual orientation, or gender, or age, or race of their parent(s) that’s important. Rather, the resilience of those individuals and the quality of the family relationships are what really matter.’

Dr Peter McParlin was 59 when he and his husband, then aged 55, decided to adopt, he explained, ‘I was 60 when our six-year-old son came into our lives. He’s been with us for two years. Yes, it’s been challenging, but challenges can also keep you young. It’s also been hugely enjoyable, but it would be crass to say it’s easy-peasy. Our son has ADHD and has also had the awful experience of his first adoption disrupting.

‘I would recommend people in their late forties and older embrace the challenge of adoption and so would my partner. I’m of the opinion that there are a good few thousand older people who could offer something invaluable to a child desperate for a home, and loving parents.’

Alex was the first transsexual to adopt from his local authority when his son Cassius, then aged 18 months, was placed with him three years ago. He said, ‘I always planned on adopting but assumed I’d do it as a couple. I didn’t imagine that transitioning could be a barrier, but I assumed wrongly for a long time that a single man couldn’t adopt.

‘In my day-to-day life I am a man and a father. No one questions either fact. I don’t come out as being trans, or an adopter, unless I want the other person to know, for a good reason.’

He added, ‘If you’ve transitioned and sorted out your own identity you’ve probably got a great deal of resilience and self-reliance. So, if you’re up for another huge challenge and making a real difference to a child who needs supporting while working out their own identity, go for it! But bear in mind your life will completely change yet again, and like transition, there isn’t a way back.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said, 'Every child deserves to have a loving, stable home that’s right for them, and thousands of adoptive families have had their lives transformed by adoption.

'We want to encourage more adopters to come forward and open their homes to these vulnerable children, but what’s most vital is stability and what is best for the child at heart. Which is why there are a range of options – including Special Guardianships and long-term fostering – so children can have a secure home with a trusted relative or guardian.

'We want to help adoptive families every step of the way – that’s why to date we have invested £89 million in the Adoption Support Fund, which helps adopted children and their families to adjust to their new lives together.'

  • For more information on adoption and becoming an adopter click here
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