The number of children adopted in England and Wales rose by almost ten percent in the year to 2012, new figures show.
There were 5,206 adoptions in that year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced, a jump of 9.8 per cent over the previous year.
According to the ONS, this is the sharpest rise in a single year since they began to collate the figures in 1997 and they believe it “could be a consequence of the recent drive to improve the adoptions process in England and in Wales.”
The figures include adoptions from care, ‘kinship care’ adoptions by extended family members, and adoptions by step parents.
The great majority of the children – 85 per cent – were born outside marriage, and a smaller majority (63 per cent) were aged between one and four, almost twice the 1998 figure of 34 per cent.
Hugh Thornbery is the Chief Executive of charity Adoption UK. He said the rise was encouraging.
“It is encouraging the number of adoption orders increased in 2012. Adoption offers positive outcomes for children from the care system, providing them with a permanent family that many of them might not have if they remained.”
But the government should not focus entirely on recruiting new adopters, he added.
“We need to remain committed to recruiting more adoptive parents but it is important to remember that any focus on recruiting adopters must go hand-in-hand with good support packages, both to encourage new adopters and ensure the long-term success of adoptive placements.”
The Department for Education said it welcomed the figures. A spokeswoman explained: “We welcome any rise in the rate of adoption. In England, too many children are waiting too long for loving, stable families. We are overhauling the system – simplifying the process for parents who want to adopt and giving them clear, independent information. We have also been clear that we expect councils to recruit more adopters and provide children with loving homes swiftly.”