There are more than twice as many children waiting for families than there are adopters, new figures show.

The statistics reveal there are 1,135 children waiting to be adopted but just 407 families approved to adopt.

The shortfall in the number of adoptive parents is revealed at the start of National Adoption Week, which aims to inspire more people to adopt.

The new research, by Adoption Match and based on data from The Adoption Register for England*, also reveals that of the children awaiting adoption:

  • Almost a third (29%) are Black and Minority Ethnic children
  • 57% are boys
  • 55% are in sibling groups of two or more

Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, Adoption UK’s chief executive, said: “Children who are older, part of a sibling group, or have special needs are always harder to match – so there is an urgent need for families who can meet their needs.”

Adoption UK is also keen to debunk some of the common misconceptions around who can and cannot adopt.

Adoptive parents can be single or unmarried; gay, bisexual or transsexual; disabled, living on benefits; and while no upper age limit exists you do have to be aged 21 or older.

Adoption UK member Dr Peter McParlin was 59 when he and his husband, then aged 55, decided to adopt.

Dr McParlin said: “I was 60 when our six-year-old son came into our lives. He’s been with us for two years. Yes, it’s been challenging, but challenges can also keep you young. It’s also been hugely enjoyable, but it would be crass to say it’s easy-peasy. Our son has ADHD and has also had the awful experience of his first adoption disrupting.

“Would I recommend to folk in their late forties and older to embrace the challenge of adoption? I most certainly would, and so would my partner. I’m of the opinion that there are a good few thousand older people who could offer something invaluable to a child desperate for a home, and loving parents.”

Alex was the first transsexual to adopt from his local authority when his son Cassius, then aged 18 months, was placed with him three years ago. He said: “I always planned on adopting but assumed I’d do it as a couple. I didn’t imagine that transitioning could be a barrier but I assumed wrongly for a long time that a single man couldn’t adopt.

“In my day-to-day life I am a man and a father. No one questions either fact. I don’t come out as being trans, or an adopter, unless I want the other person to know, for a good reason.”

Alex’s message to members of the trans community considering adopting a child, is: “If you’ve transitioned and sorted out your own identity you’ve probably got a great deal of resilience and self-reliance. So if you’re up for another huge challenge and making a real difference to a child who needs supporting while working out their own identity, go for it! But bear in mind your life will completely change yet again, and like transition, there isn’t a way back.”

Paying tribute to today’s diverse range of adopters, Dr Armstrong Brown said: “When it comes to a child’s development, it’s not the sexual orientation, or gender, or age, or race of their parent(s) that’s important. Rather, the resilience of those individuals and the quality of the family relationships are what really matter.”

People who want to take the first step to adoption can start by contacting Adoption UK. There is a free helpline and membership provides expert advice, access to legal help and a range of fantastic offers on training, shopping and family activities.