The number of children adopted by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples and individuals has reached record highs over the last 12 months, with over 480 children placed in loving stable homes in the last year.
The news comes as adopters and foster carers get ready to celebrate LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week 2015 - a week long event which marks the selfless dedication and contributions made by LGBT adopters and foster carers to some of the most vulnerable children.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Adoption and Children Act which gave LGBT adopters the same legal rights as heterosexual adopters. Since then, the number of children adopted by LGBT parents has grown year on year.
Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson has celebrated the start of the week by urging LGBT singles and couples considering opening up their hearts and homes to those children in need of a loving stable family to take the first step on the journey towards becoming an adoptive or foster parent.
Edward Timpson, who grew up with over 80 fostered brothers and sisters including 2 adopted brothers, said:
Over the last 12 months, we placed thousands more of our most vulnerable children in the loving and permanent homes they so desperately need - but we still need more people from all walks to come forward and adopt.
Having grown up with over 80 fostered brothers and sisters, I know as well as anyone that what matters in adoptive and foster parenting is not their sexual orientation or gender identity but their ability to love and provide for children in need.
I would encourage anyone who believes they have the skills needed to become either a foster carer or adopter to contact New Family Social without delay, and take the first steps towards the challenge - and joy - of being a parent.
Research published in 2013 by the Department for Education showed that there could be up to 4 million people in England likely to consider adopting or fostering at some point in the future, yet up and down the country there are still thousands of children waiting for a safe, loving home.
Over the last 2 years, the government has introduced a number of reforms to overhaul adoption and improve fostering including the support on offer through every step of the adoption and fostering journey - from filling in the forms to becoming an approved adoptive or foster parent, to bringing the child home for the first time.
We have invested £17 million to boost voluntary adoption agencies in recruiting and supporting adopters, including £400,000 to launch the first adoption service exclusively for LGBT people and £400,000 to Barnardo’s to recruit adopters for siblings, with a focus on LGBT adopters.
We have also:
- changed the rules so that children in care can stay with their former foster families until their 21st birthday - enabling them to make the transition to adulthood and independence when they are ready
- provided £875,000 to help fostering services recruit and retain more foster carers from a wider range of backgrounds
- funded Fosterline - a confidential, free-of-charge advice service for foster carers
- streamlined the rules to make the foster carer assessment process clearer and more efficient
- changed the rules so that foster carers have the power to make day-to-day decisions about their foster children - such as haircuts and school trips - allowing them to get on with the job of looking after their foster child
- extended entitlements so that children in care going straight through to adoption have access to priority school admissions, the pupil premium and - from September 2014 - are eligible for free early education for 2-year-olds
- published the adoption passport, setting out the rights and entitlements of adoptive parents
- set up First4Adoption, a dedicated information service for people interested in adopting a child in England
- announced improved support for families post-adoption by a commitment to rolling out the Adoption Support Fund nationwide from May 2015 - a £19.3 million fund to pay for essential therapy for adoptive families as and when they need it
Notes to Editor