Despite discouraging laws in some parts of the country, new figures say that the number of US gay couples adopting children is rising.

According to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law, in 2000, only eight per cent of gay couples raising children had an adopted child.

In 2009, this had risen to 19 per cent. Now, it is estimated that four per cent of adopted children have a gay parent.

Two states – Utah and Mississippi – ban gay couples from adopting. Some others allow one person in a gay couple to adopt as an individual but do not recognise the other partner.

Meanwhile, Arizona recently passed a law to give married heterosexual couples priority when adopting.

Last month, a gay male couple in Arizona revealed they had adopted 12 children, aged between two and 16.

Big-hearted Steven and Roger Ham cannot legally adopt in the state as a couple, nor can they marry.