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
||Adoptions in 2022 [2021/22]
|| Adoptions in 2023 [2022/23]
| Female couple [married]
| Female couple [civil partnership]
| Female couple [unmarried / not in a civil partnership]
| Male couple [married]
| Male couple [civil partnership]
| Male couple [unmarried / not in a civil partnership]
| Total same-sex couples
| All adoptions by adopter type
|Same-sex couples as percentage of all adopter types
| 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.