Adoption System Reform on Track

The reform of Scotland’s adoption laws has moved a step closer. MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s education committee have come out in support of proposals that would allow unmarried couples to adopt children. However, they said the reforms should be tied to a campaign to increase the number of foster families. At the moment, only one member of an unmarried couple can adopt, while the other has separate rights to live in the same house as the child.

The Adoption (Scotland) Bill would allow both unmarried and same-sex couples to adopt for the first time.The number of children being adopted each year has fallen by more than half over the last 20 years. Most involve children more than two years old, often coming from difficult backgrounds.

The new law makes it clear the courts and the local authorities always have to act in the best interests of the child, not the adults, though natural parents will for the first time be able to seek contact with their children.

The Catholic Church in Scotland has said the proposals undermine marriage. However, the Church of Scotland, while supporting marriage, said the needs of troubled youngsters must come first.