The crisis over adoption has been growing for years. Just 60 babies under 12 months old were adopted in England last year, compared with 70 the previous year and about 4,000 in 1976. And while adoptions have fallen, the number of children in care has been rising. Of 65,000 in care last year, 3,660 were under a year old, the ideal age to find a permanent home with a new family.
But fewer than 2 per cent did. Why is it not happening? Because adoption has become a bureaucratic, box-ticking exercise that excludes many who would make "good enough" parents. As Martin Narey, the Government's adoption adviser, points out, of the 168 babies adopted in Romania in 1989 – mostly by people rejected for adoption in the UK – just two placements have broken down.
Yesterday's announcement of an overhaul of the adoption system is welcome. It will have succeeded when the number of children offered a permanent, secure home starts to rise.