While for most children the best place to grow is with their birth parents, others are unable to do so.
Under The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 the first duty of Health and Social Care Trusts, where children cannot live with their birth parents, is to seek a home for them with their extended family.
Finding a safe and caring new home for children with wider family or friends allows them to keep important attachments and connections in their lives, and is therefore the preferred choice where it is possible.
Where this is not possible, society has a clear responsibility to provide children with stability and permanence in their lives.
Some children are placed in alternative forms of care.
Adoption is traditionally a means of providing a permanent family for a small, but significant number of children who are unable to return to their birth parents.
Although there are many children in Northern Ireland who are looking for an adoptive family, there are also many children overseas who need homes and Intercountry Adoption may be their only opportunity to belong to a permanent family.
For humanitarian reasons the Government allows Intercountry Adoption to proceed where; the child cannot be cared for in any suitable manner in his own country; the adoption would be in the best interests of the child and with respect to the child's fundamental rights as recognised in international law; and the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency.