The Scottish executive has announced plans for a complete
overhaul of the nation’s adoption system to stem a decline in the
number of children adopted.
The proposals aim to broaden the pool of potential adopters by
allowing same-sex and unmarried couples to adopt, simplify the
legal process to reduce the amount of time adoptions take to go
through the courts and offer more post-adoption support to children
Plans for a new permanence order, which will give long-term
stability to children who cannot live with their birth families but
for whom adoption is not the best option, were also unveiled.
Deputy education minister Euan Robson said the system needed to
change because the number of adoptions in Scotland had dropped from
1,000 to 400 per year since the mid-1980s.
The proposals came out of a three-year review by a group of
adoption and legal experts. One of its members, Baaf Adoption and
Fostering’s Scottish director Barbara Hudson, said the complicated
interface between the courts, children’s hearing system and the
council planning process meant it took up to two years to complete
“I would hope that we can reduce that to something between six and
nine months because it is better for the child,” she said.
However, allowing same-sex and unmarried couples to adopt –
currently, only one person from each couple can apply – promises to
be the most controversial aspect of the plans. When similar changes
were introduced in England in 2003, religious and pro-marriage
Hudson said the move would increase the number of adoption
applicants, but hoped it would not dominate debate on the
“Sadly there are some sectors of society that may feel the change
in legislation is a threat to marriage as an institution, but for
those most closely involved in the sector it won’t be seen as the
most important aspect,” she added.
The executive is to publish a consultation paper on the proposals
- The Scottish executive’s proposals can be read in detail at