The first thing to note is that adoption is about caring for someone else's child. It always has to be borne in mind that however, loving, stable and close a relationship develops between adopters and their child or children there will always be the fact that they are not the child's birth parents to be considered. No amount of love can make this fact disappear.
What adoption does is to provide the legal basis for the assumption of parental responsibilities in respect of a particular child by someone, or in the case of a couple (they need not be married, and they can be hetrosexual, gay or lesbian) by them both, who are not their natural parent. In the UK there were around 5,000 children adopted in 2000, but quite a number of these involved adoptions by a step-parent.
The government want to see the number of 'looked after' children being adopted increase. There were 3,200 children adopted from care during the year ending 31st March 2010. There are estimated to be many more children who would benefit from being placed with new families, and where adoption is the plan for the child. Most of these children are four years and older, and many are part of sibling groups. Nowadays, adoption is used to provide permanent families for children of all ages, from infants to teenagers.