Sharon Issitt, 33, had no problem adopting five-year-old Sarah when the child was three months old.
But new rules banning smokers from adopting mean the second application by Mrs Issitt and her husband - who cannot have their own children - has been rejected on medical grounds.
'It seems so unfair that we can't help a child who needs a loving home,' Mrs Issitt, a pie factory worker of Western Park, Leicester, said.
Her husband Martin, 38, said social workers suggested they adopt again, but the couple then found out about the new rules. 'Sharon has been trying to give up smoking but it has been very difficult and we have to accept she can't'
He said they intended to appeal against the decision by Leicestershire social services adoption panel. 'I know there must be rules but we can provide a good home, and social services know that. They could make an exception,' he said.
Judy Hardman, spokeswoman for Leicestershire social services, said since April 1991 the Adoption Agency had ruled the adoptions panel should accept medical advice and the new ruling was 'that only non-smokers will be taken on as prospective adopters of babies'.
She added: 'Medical evidence, particularly in respect to cot deaths, shows that smoking can be very harmful to young children.'Reuse content