Adoption UK’s Alison Woodhead has said that IVF and other fertility treatments are “a factor” in the drop of adoption numbers but “not the main factor”.
In the last 40 years, adoption numbers in England and Wales have dropped 62%, and the success rates of IVF for women under 35 have almost tripled.
Ms Woodhead, the Director of Public Affairs and Communications at Adoption UK, told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “I am sure advances in fertility treatments are a factor in all of that but certainly not the main factor.”
“There are all sorts of reasons [why adoption seems less popular]. The main one is that society has changed,” she added.
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“Decades ago unmarried mums were having to relinquish their babies whether they liked it or not because it was socially unacceptable.
“Nowadays the adopted age of a child is three years old and they are being taken into care for a different range of reasons – mostly around abuse and neglect.
“It is just a very different picture and there was also a court ruling in 2014, which made a really big impact on how many children were being placed for adoption.
“It made the whole system much more cautious than it had been in previous years.
“I am sure advances in fertility treatments are a factor in all of that but certainly not the main factor.”
'An oversupply of children'
Ms Woodhead said that adoption services have “an undersupply of parents”.
“The situation we have got at the moment is that we have got twice as many children waiting for adoption as available adopters,” she said.
“We have got an oversupply of children and an undersupply of parents to put it crudely.
“Children are not taken into care lightly. It is an enormous upheaval for everybody and has a huge impact on that child’s life forever.
“So generally speaking, children who go into care tend to stay in,” she added.
“Then there is a decision about whether it is best for them to go to an adoptive family or stay in care until they are 18.
“There are a smaller amount of children who are taken into care temporarily.
“A humongous amount of effort is put into keeping children with their birth parents.”