Campaigner in call for law change to allow adoption beyond 18-years-old

A campaigner has told MSPs he feels a special moment has been “stolen” from him because he cannot ask his stepfather to adopt him now he is over 18.

Nathan Sparling, 28, wants to change the law in Scotland which currently limits adoption to people aged under 18.

Speaking at Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee in support of his petition to scrap the legal age limit, Mr Sparling said: “My dad came into my life when I was 12.

“I’ve never known my biological father, in fact my birth certificate reflects this as it is blank where most people would have a father’s name. I’ve never wanted to know who he was.

“My dad Brian shaped me as a person, he continues to provide love and support to me… but it was not until the age of 18, however, that I considered how I could repay that love and support.

“Finding out that I was not able to be adopted because I’d reached an arbitrary age set by the state left me feeling as though my special moment of asking my father to adopt me was stolen from me.

“I remember as if it was yesterday walking my mum down the aisle at their wedding, allowing them to make their commitment of love in the law, yet rather than being too young to make such a milestone decision to show our commitment as father and son before the law, I found myself too old.

“I launched the campaign in March this year because I believe the right to a family life, to the important feeling of belonging to a family that adoption can bring, should not be restricted to those under the age of 18.

“Every family deserves the ability to formalise their relationships in the eyes of the law and we should not force people to make such as big decision as adoption before they turn 18.”

Mr Sparling, 28, argues the current legal restriction is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and believes the Scottish Government could use its forthcoming Family Law Bill to make the change.

Adult adoption is currently legal in countries such as Canada, the US, Japan, Germany and Spain.

Mr Sparling and his fellow campaigner Caroline Dempster said currently available steps such as taking your step-parent’s surname or being included in their will do not go far enough.

Ms Dempster told the committee she did not meet her step-daughter until she was 21 and on being asked to adopt her she found she was unable to.

Now 35, her step-daughter still wants to be adopted.

Ms Dempster said: “This is two consenting adults wanting to make a public and legal commitment to their relationship as a parent and child. It is not just for inheritance purposes.”

The committee agreed to contact Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie, legal bodies including the Law Society and adoption agencies on the issue.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) David Cheskin / PA Wire.