The number of children waiting for adoptive homes in the UK outnumbers prospective adopters by more than 2:1, according to new figures. Marking the start of National Adoption Week (14th-20th October), this data was released by the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board to highlight the urgent need for more families who are willing to adopt to come forward.
Authorities have concluded that 4,140 children across England should be adopted, however, there are only around 1,700 families approved to adopt and waiting to be matched with children. Looking at nine regions of England at the end of December 2018, there were 2,760 children where a placement order had been made for adoption, but they have not yet been placed.
According to the data, the groups most likely to struggle in finding adoptive parents are children from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, children with disabilities, older children, and sibling groups:
- more than half are waiting to be adopted with siblings (57 per cent);
- more than a quarter are over the age of five (28 per cent);
- one in five are from a BAME background (20 per cent); and
- four per cent have a disability.
Research from last year found that almost a third of all children waiting to be adopted in England were from a BAME background. Chief Executive of the adoption agency PACT, Jan Fishwick, explained:
“It’s a sad reality that some children have fewer options when it comes to finding adopters for them. These children are often referred to as ‘hard to place’ or those that ‘wait the longest’ of these, BAME children and Black boys, in particular, are a group that are often overlooked.”
BAME adopters twice as likely as white families to adopt
Fostering and adoption charity, Home for Good, found BAME adults are more than twice as likely to consider adoption than white adults (21 per cent versus 10 per cent). Interviewing more than 8,000 UK adults, the research discovered half (50 per cent) of white adults would not consider or explore adoption, while only 27 per cent of BAME adults would rule adoption out as an option. This falls even further to just one in five (20 per cent) Black adults who would not consider adoption.
Despite these results, there is still a significant shortage of BAME adopters. The charity’s research found BAME adults were more likely than white adults to worry about issues surrounding adoption, including:
- What family and friends might think;
- The government and authorities looking into their history;
- How they would be treated by social workers;
- Financial implications and space at home; and,
- Parenting challenges that adopted children might pose.
Who can adopt?
According to Adoption UK’s Adoption Barometer 2019, four out of five adopters would recommend adoption. Despite this, there are around 2.5 children waiting for every approved adoptive home. With more than twice as many children waiting to be adopted as there are families willing to adopt, there is a clear focus on potential adopters in this year’s National Adoption Week for England, with a social tagline of #YouCanAdopt.
In England and Wales, anyone over the age of 21 years old can adopt a child. While you do not have to be a British citizen, you (or your partner) must have either:
- A fixed and permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man; or,
- Lived in the UK for at least one year before you begin the application process.
The adopter does not need to married or in a relationship, and sexual preference does not get taken into account. In 2018, single parents applying for adoption reached a record high at 962; an increase from 904 in 2017 and 875 in 2012. According to the latest family court statistics, adoption orders by same-sex couples accounted for 12 per cent of all adoption in England and Wales during 2018/19. In the year to end March 2018, 400 children were adopted by single adopters, and 460 were adopted by couples of the same-sex.
People who already have their own children can also adopt and are allowed to adopt more than one child at a time.
The only automatic exclusion from adoption in England is if you, or a member of your household, have a criminal conviction, caution for offences against children, or for serious sexual crimes.
One of the most crucial factors a potential adopter must ask themselves is whether they can be patient and flexible with a child, empathise with them, and make them feel safe and loved.
Contact our Adoption & Child Law Solicitors
If you are considering adoption, it is always recommended you speak with a professional child lawyer to get expert legal advice about the adoption process in England. Do not delay and get in touch with a member of our qualified team today by calling 01256 595482 or completing the online enquiry form.