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1 in 5 adoptions in England to same-sex couples [20 November, 2023]

20 Nov 2023 14:19 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

1 in 5 adoptions in England in 2023 were to same-sex couples, according to new statistics published by the Department for Education and analysed by New Family Social. Some 600 adoptions in the reporting period were to same-sex couples, which is both the highest total number and proportion on record in the country.

The news comes following March’s LGBTQ+ Adoption & Fostering Week, the only national campaign that specifically focuses on encouraging LGBTQ+ people to consider adoption or fostering. Led by New Family Social – the UK’s peer support charity for LGBTQ+ adopters and foster carers – the campaign brought together some 100 agencies.

Tor Docherty, New Family Social’s Chief Executive, said: ‘These results are fantastic news - not just for LGBTQ+ people in England thinking about adoption but most importantly for those vulnerable children waiting to be matched with a new forever family.

‘LGBTQ+ people now play a key role in adoption. It’s time for the sector to develop and adopt minimum baseline standards of good practice when working with our community. These will make sure that LGBTQ+ people can have confidence that whichever agency they choose, they’ll work with professionals who focus on the strengths LGBTQ+ people bring to adoption, rather than misconceptions and prejudice. We know from our work that not all LGBTQ+ people who adopt in England have a journey free from discrimination and baseline standards would help agencies to better assess and support our community.’

Analysis of data taken from Department for Education

Adopter type Adoptions in 2022 [2021/22]   Adoptions in 2023 [2022/23]
 Female couple [married] 110   130
 Female couple [civil partnership] 30  30 
 Female couple [unmarried / not in a civil partnership] 40  70 
 Male couple [married] 180  190 
 Male couple [civil partnership] 40  40 
 Male couple [unmarried / not in a civil partnership] 130  140 
 Total same-sex couples 530  600 
 All adoptions by adopter type 3000  2960 
Same-sex couples as percentage of all adopter types 17.7  20.3 
 Same-sex couples as proportion of all adopters types 1 in 6 [1 in 5.7]  1 in 5 [1 in 4.9] 

Limitations of data – as the Department for Education reports on the composition of the adoptive family, rather than sexual orientation or gender identity of adopters, it undercounts LGBTQ+ people’s engagement. Absent from the data are LGBTQ+ single adopters, bi people in a different gender relationship and trans people in a different gender relationship.

Compared to the rest of the UK, in Northern Ireland in 2023, 1 in 8 adoptions were to same-sex couples. The most recent statistics for Wales show that 1 in 4 adoptions in 2022 were to same-sex couples. In Scotland – where adoptions are reported by calendar rather than financial year – 1 in 12 adoptions in 2022 were to same-sex couples.

New Family Social's online annual briefing for adoption and fostering sector professionals takes place 29 November.

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