Despite legal hurdles in many states, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of gay and lesbian couples adopting children in the US, reports The New York Times.

According to an assessment of recent US census data by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, the percentage of same-sex couples that have adopted children has increased from eight percent in 2000 to around 19 percent in 2009.

This means that around four percent of adopted children in the US are being raised by same-sex couples or gay or lesbian parents.

“The trend line is absolutely straight up,” Adam Pertman, executive director for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, told the newspaper.

Currently, only two US states, Utah and Mississippi, specifically ban adoption by gay couples, but challenges remain in many other states that do not recognise same-sex relationships.

A ban on gay adoption was reversed in Florida last year after a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional. And, in Arizona the law orders the state to give preference to married, straight couples over same-sex couples in adoption cases.

A 2007 poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp. found that 57% of Americans believe that gays should have the right to adopt while 40% said they should not.

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