Same-sex couples are now adopting one in six children in England, official figures confirm.
That’s a massive growth from 2012 when just one in 22 adoptions were to same-sex parents. Meanwhile the total positive impact of LGBT+ parents to children needing new families is certainly even greater.
The growth in same-sex adoptive parenting comes at a crucial time with more children in care than at any other time in the past.
New Family Social, the UK’s charity for LGBT+ adopters and foster carers, told GSN there had been a ‘welcome revolution in LGBT+ adoption’.
The figures from the Department for Education today show LGBT+ couples were behind 570 of the 3,440 adoptions in England in the year ending 31 March 2020. This is the highest number since records began.
Of those 570, the greatest number were to married male same-sex couples (170), followed by married female same-sex couples (120). Meanwhile married male civil partners adopted 70 children, with female civil partners adopting 30.
Finally unmarried male couples also adopted 120 children with unmarried female couples adopting 60.
‘Welcome revolution in LGBT+ adoption’
However the figures do not show the number of single LGBT+ parents who adopt children. Experts estimate that may add at least 10% to the total.
And the stats also don’t show the number of bisexual parents in opposite-sex relationships who adopt.
Meanwhile, the official statistics do not include the number of LGBT+ people providing foster care to children.
Research shows that 80% of LGBT+ parents fear their identity will be a barrier to being a foster parent. However the government doesn’t gather statistics to reveal how many LGBT+ people provide foster care.
James Lawrence from New Family Social told GSN that LGBT+ parents often approach adoption in a different way to heterosexuals.
LGBT+ parents are more likely to consider adopting children who need more support and they are more open to adopting pairs or groups of brothers and sisters together.
They also tend to be more open about adopting older children – with many adopting parents considering children as young as four to be too old.
As a result, some same-sex parents wait less time to adopt a child than their heterosexual peers.
Meanwhile adoption agencies have become increasingly open to same-sex parents adopting. Success stories have encouraged more LGBT+ parents to come forward.
Lawrence said: ‘There has been a welcome revolution in LGBT+ adoption, especially for our country’s most vulnerable children who just want a loving sustainable home.
‘Previously parents who are LGBT+ would have ruled themselves out but they are now ruling themselves in.’
Worrying drop in overall adoptions even before COVID
However, the need has never been greater. Commenting on today’s statistics, the charity Adoption UK said it is ‘deeply concerned’ that the number of children adopted from care in England is down by more than a third compared to five years ago.
The 3,440 adoptions last year compared to a peak of 5,360 in 2015. And the new figures do not factor in the full effects of coronavirus.
Adoption UK’s chief executive, Sue Armstrong Brown, said: ‘There is no right number of adoptions, but this continuing downward trajectory is very worrying. It does not bode well for next year’s figures, which will undoubtedly be exacerbated by the pandemic.’
Moreover, New Family Social warned same-sex adopting parents would have also faced a challenging pandemic.
As they are more likely to adopt children with extra needs, many have struggled to access the additional services their kids need to thrive due to lockdowns and restrictions.
Nevertheless, the new figures are great news for campaigners who have fought tirelessly for rainbow families to be respected and recognized.
Tor Docherty, New Family Social’s chief executive said:
‘We’re delighted to see the numbers of adoptions to LGBT+ people increase for the third consecutive year.
‘LGBT+ people can and do provide invaluable parenting to some of our most vulnerable children.
‘England’s adoption agencies increasingly recognise and use us as an essential resource. It’s great to end this challenging year with some much-needed good news.’