One in five adoptions in England to same-sex couples, new statistics reveal

Graham Robson November 20, 2023

One in five 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

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, one in eight adoptions were to same-sex couples. The most recent statistics for Wales show that one in four adoptions in 2022 were to same-sex couples. In Scotland – where adoptions are reported by calendar rather than financial year – one in 12 adoptions in 2022 were to same-sex couples.

New Family Social is the UK’s peer support charity for LGBTQ+ adopters, foster carers and special guardians. It has some 10,500 adopter, foster carer, special guardian and professional members across the UK

An annual online briefing for adoption and fostering sector professionals, that’s free to attend, will take place November 29. Booking information on New Family Social’s website.