Better outcomes for adopted children and value of adoptive placements generated cost savings of £4.2 billion in 2021

10 February 2023
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  • New analysis shows billions of savings each year across England, Wales and Scotland as a result of children in public care being adopted.
  • Children who are adopted are likely to have better health, achieve more in education and have better employment prospects than children in alternative permanent arrangements, according to the evidence currently available
  • Falling numbers of children being adopted mean that this value to children, families and society is diminishing over time.

New analysis has revealed that at least £4.2 billion in value was generated across England, Wales and Scotland in 2021 when 3,359 children were adopted – including savings of £3.6 billion to local authorities, £541 million to the economy, and £34 million to the NHS.

The modelling, which compared the outcomes of children who were adopted with those in other permanent placements found that the value created for adopted children, families and society is at least £1.3million for every child adopted.

Adoption is only right for a small number of children who cannot remain with their birth families. Yet the scale of the benefits it brings to those children – and to society as a whole – appear to be declining year-on-year as the number of children being placed for adoption falls. Despite policies supportive of adoption introduced over the last decade, the number of children adopted peaked in England in 2015 at 5,360, and has since fallen to 2,950 in 2022. This trend has occurred despite increased numbers of children needing to live in safe homes apart from their families of origin, with numbers of children in care in England up 25% since 2010 – and at their highest levels since records began.

Children’s charity and leading voluntary adoption agency, Adoption Matters, attended the formal launch of the new report A Home For Me? By Sonnet Advisory & Impact detailing these new findings, at the House of Lords on 31st January. The report’s author introduced the report at the event, followed by speeches by the Honourable Mrs Justice Judd, Adoption Lead at the Judiciary’s Family Division, and Adoption Matters trustee and adoptee Jamie Bennett.

Jamie was adopted through Adoption Matters and also reconnected with his birth family with Adoption Matters help, is now a Trustee bringing his experiences and views as an adopted adult. Jamie comments:

“It was an honour to be invited to the House of Lords to speak at the launch event of a very interesting piece of research commissioned by the Consortium of Voluntary Agencies. Adoption, in the right circumstances, can give a fantastic start to a child’s life. I’m humbly proud to be an example of this.

But adoption is not the right option for all children; and it’s not perfect… Over recent years there has been a shift in sentiment towards adoption as an option. Numbers are at a record low for adoption but an all-time high for children in public care.  This does signal some positive change towards kinship placements and fostering. But still, so many interim foster placements are being used and also adoption reversal orders issued.

I was so delicate when I was a kid about my status as an adopted child. I can only imagine what these disruptions and seismic shifts of [in]stability must feel like to children. So, can we say this is optimised either? Every decision needs balance and all options need open consideration & long term support – which is lacking.

The objective of this research is not to eclipse other options for vulnerable children.

It’s to make sure the perception of adoption breakdown doesn’t eclipse the unique good it can do. Adoption can work. It’s been contentious and historically imperfect. But there are mature, ongoing support provisions for birth parents, adopters and adoptees to create a comfortable triangle where everyone can be at peace and the children involved can flourish.

I’m not the lonely satellite I perceived myself to once be looking in at the world wondering why I was on the outside, pushed out. My insecurities painted that picture. In fact, I’m relieved to see good adoption agencies manage a bespoke “life story” process, and support parents to maintain a connection to children’s roots; everyone in the adoption triangle needs equal respect and empowerment.

I have the gift of a massive family now – adoptive and biological. It’s an absolute lottery win. And I know it can’t be like that for everyone, I know I’m lucky. The launch event was about shouting out the positives & winning support for more resource to do even better.

If you only see the red in a rainbow, then you miss the beauty of the rest so it was nice to have the opportunity to speak with passion about this and I continue to be proud to be part of the Adoption Matters Board of Trustees in helping shape their adoption practices”.

The full report is available here:

Accompanying infographics are available to download here and here.

For more information about adopting with Adoption Matters download an information pack.