Adoptions increase by nearly 10%
Last year saw the largest annual increase in adoptions in 15 years, with 5,206 in England and Wales.
The figure represents a 9.8% increase on 2011 when there were 4,740 adoptions, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS suggested the rise could be down to a recent drive to improve the adoptions process in England and in Wales.
The figures were welcomed by children's charities but they said more needed to be done to make sure children are adopted by families that meet their individual needs.
There are currently about 4,000 children in care who are waiting to be adopted and recent figures show that youngsters wait nearly 21 months on average before finding a new family. In some areas, children are forced to wait almost three years before moving in to a permanent new home.
The latest figures from the ONS are made up of adoptions which took place following court orders in England and Wales in 2012. They apply to adoptions by relatives and step-parents as well as adoptions from care.
Wales recorded a 12% increase in adoptions in 2012, with 371 children entered into the Adopted Children Register (ACR), while in England there was a 9.6% rise with 4,835 children registered. Adoption figures for Northern Ireland are not yet available while the statistics for Scotland are preliminary but show the rate remained relatively constant for 2012 with 494 adoptions compared to 496 the year before.
Hannah Dobbin, policy manager at Action for Children, said: "We're pleased to see that more children are finding permanent, loving homes across England and Wales. We now need to build on this and keep focused on finding the best possible placement for each and every child.
"This is especially the case for children that can be harder to place, who we work with, such as older children and sibling groups. With the Government's commitment to invest an extra £16 million to help the 4,000 children in care who are currently waiting for an adoptive family, and the clear recognition that more needs to be done to help children waiting for new homes.
"We need to see more innovative approaches to ensuring that children are placed with families that can meet their individual needs and can offer them the stability they need. We would also encourage more people to consider adoption, as they have the opportunity to transform the life of someone who would really benefit from a caring family home."