A recent report in The Times said that the number of children adopted who are returned to the care system has doubled over the last five years. 4,637 children were adopted in 2007.

The report says:

Local authorities are not obliged to keep any data on adoption breakdowns and the vast majority of those contacted by More4 News had no figures or only partial records. However, according to the numbers kept by 92 out of 450 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, 57 children were returned to care in 2008-09 compared with 26 in 2004-05. If the pattern is repeated across the country, it means more than 250 children were returned to the care system last year.

The Adoption Act of 2002 was supposed to speed up adoption so that children do not have to languish in the care system for too long. However, the bigger problem may be that they are allowed to stay with their natural parents for too long before social workers remove them from their home.

It adds that the charity Adoption UK "says the system is still too preoccupied with the intense and lengthy approvals process for would-be adoptive parents, rather than preparing them in advance and helping them afterwards."

I am sure it is true that the longer children are left in care the harder it is to adopt them successfully. But another way of looking at these figures is that the failure rate of adoption is very low – about 2%. The message to Councils should be to speed up the process – not to reduce the number of children placed for adoption in a misguided "risk averse" manner, A far greater risk to the child's prospects is remaining in the care system.