During the year ending 31 March 2021, 57 children were adopted from care in Northern Ireland, almost half the number of the year before (111).
Of that overall number, four children were adopted in the Southern Trust area.
The average age of children at the time of adoption was at 3 years 10 months, somewhat younger than in previous years;
From the child’s last entry into care, the average length of time for a child to be adopted in 2020/21 was 3 years 2 months. This was similar to the last three years.
For children adopted in 2020/21, the average duration from the HSC Trust proposal that adoption was in the best interest for the child (the Looked After Child Best Interest Proposal) to the Adoption Order was 2 years 6 months, slightly longer than in recent years; and.
In 2020/21, children adopted by Concurrent Carers2 were younger at the time of adoption (3 years 3 months compared with the national average of 3 years and 10 months) and they also had a shorter last duration in care (2 years 9 months compared with the regional average of 3 years 2 month)
Adoption, unlike any other permanence option, involves the ending of a child’s legal
relationship with their birth parents and family and the creation of a lifelong relationship with new parents and family.
In 2020/21, the average length of time between the date of the child’s last period of care started to the Adoption Order was granted was 3 years 2 months. The average length has stayed just over three years since 2017/18. Some 9 of the children (16%) were adopted within two years of entering the final period of care and for just under half of the children (27 children, 44%), the last period of care lasted three years or longer.
For some children who enter care, adoption is the preferred means to secure permanency and stability and the agreed care plan would be identified at an early juncture. For other children, adoption may not be considered until the child has spent some time in care, for
example after changes to the child’s family situation which makes it unlikely that the child can return home to birth parents