Publication of “Children Adopted from Care in Northern Ireland 2020/21”

Date published: 30 September 2021

The Department of Health has today published the “Children Adopted from Care in Northern Ireland 2020/21”.

This bulletin details statistical information relating to children adopted from care during the year ending 31 March 2021. The tables within the bulletin present a range of information about these children and their adopters, including durations between different stages in the adoption process. The bulletin is based on the DoH statistical return AD1 2020/21, which was collected from each of the five Health and Social Care Trusts.

Key Findings

  • 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);
  • 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 Carers[1] 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).

[1] The child is placed with carers who are approved as foster carers and adopters while the future of the child is still being decided.

Notes to editors: 

1. This publication is available on the Department of Health website

2. About the data:

The source of the data contained in this release is the Departmental AD1 statistical return, collected from Health and Social Services Trusts and relating to the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

This statistical bulletin was produced by Community Information Branch, DoH.

3. Further information is available from:
Community Information Branch
Information Analysis Directorate, Department of Health,
Room 11, Annexe 2, Castle Buildings,
Stormont Belfast
Tel:      (028) 90 522580

4. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:

5. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.


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