Provisional figures for 2013/14 show that 5,210 children were placed with adoptive parents, compared with 4,560 during 2012/13.
The figures also show there was an 11 per cent drop in the number of children identified as needing to be adopted but who had not yet been placed with an adoptive family.
The latest data suggests that 6,160 were waiting to be placed at the end of March 2014, down from 6,890 in the same period in 2013.
The figures come as the government continues its drive to make the adoption system simpler and more effective.
Measures introduced through the Children and Families Act this year – including allowing prospective adopters to search the Adoption Register, and giving local authorities a duty to provide information on adoption support to adoptive parents and prospective adopters – are intended to make it easier for families to adopt and reduce delays in the adoption process.
Other government measures include a £19m adoption support fund to help adoptive families and the creation of the First4Adoption information services to link prospective adopters with agencies.
But while the figures suggest some early successes, the adopter gap, referring to the shortage of prospective adopters, is still above the 2011/12 level.
According to the provisional figures there was a shortage of 2,400 families during 2013/14. This is down on the 2012/13 figure of 3,100, but still higher than the 2,000 shortage in 2011/12.
The average time it takes to adopt a child from when they enter care has also improved, from 658 days in 2012/13 on average to 581 in 2013/14, but is still 34 days above the government’s threshold target.
The latest figures for 2013/14 are based on responses from 53 per cent of all councils as well as latest figures from adoption agencies.
Children's minister Edward Timpson said: "Our plan to increase the number of approved adopters and children being adopted is working, but with too many children waiting for a loving home there is no room for complacency.
"We’re committed to doing all we can to see more children adopted which is why we’ve made landmark changes to the system."