Number of adoptions plummet 'due to IVF treatment success'

Rate of fertility treatment success has nearly tripled since 1978, while adoptions fell by two-thirds

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 03 November 2018 12:59 GMT
In 40 years, the success rate of fertility treatment has almost tripled, rising from 7 to 29 per cent for under-35s
In 40 years, the success rate of fertility treatment has almost tripled, rising from 7 to 29 per cent for under-35s (Getty Images)

Increased IVF use among couples unable to have children has led to a drop in adoption rates, a prominent child advocate has said.

Since fertility treatment began 40 years ago, its success rate has almost tripled, rising from 7 to 29 per cent for under-35s, while adoptions in England and Wales have fallen by almost two-thirds (62 per cent).

Meanwhile, the number of children in care has reached a record high, with 90 young people entering the care system each day in the 12 months to March 2017 – marking the biggest annual surge of children in care in seven years.

But despite a total of 72,670 children entering the care system during that year, less than 5,000 children were adopted in 2017, compared with 12,121 in 1978.

Anthony Douglas, head of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, told The Daily Telegraph adoption was competing with “lots of other ways of having children”.

He said this was also in part due to the length of time it takes to become an approved adopter in England and Wales – a process he said was “far too slow”.

“Every child deserves a family to live and grow up in but adoption still takes twice as long as it should, which puts people off,” Mr Douglas said.

The fall in adoptions also follows warnings that adoptive parents are being “overwhelmed“ by a lack of support from social services to deal with pressures, with recent research suggesting more than a quarter of such families are in “crisis”.

Figures show that children in care are waiting longer to be placed with adoptive families, with a 30-day increase in waiting time in just the past six months.

Youngsters waiting to be adopted currently outnumber approved adopters by three to one.

This does not only pose a risk to the long-term outcomes for children, but new analysis by charity Coram also shows the cost to local authorities. Failing to find adoptive families for just 30 children a year costs £1m for each extra year they remain in care, their findings show.

Earlier this month, the National Adoption Service put out a call for prospective parents in Wales to come forward to help, following an “unanticipated increase” in children looking for homes.

IVF – or in vitro fertilisation – is a process in which an egg is removed from a woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory, before the fertilised egg is returned to the woman’s womb to develop.

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