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UK

New Adoption Law Gives Gay Couples Joint Rights

 

 

 

 


 


LONDON, December 30, 2005   –  Same-sex couples, whether in a ‘civil partnership’ or not, can from today jointly adopt children – as can unmarried opposite-sex couples.  Previously, adoption law in England and Wales allowed individuals – both straight and gay – to adopt, but this gave their partners few parental rights.

There has never been a law prohibiting gay men and women from adopting.

The new Adoption and Children Act 2002 came into force today and adoption support groups say that the new law will encourage more people to come forward and adopt children.

Any unmarried couple, including a same-sex couple, wishing to adopt will need to be able to demonstrate that their partnership is an ‘enduring family relationship’.

Among other provision of the new Act is that natural parents who gave up their children for adoption now have the right to try to trace them through an intermediary service, providing the child agrees.

In addition, the Act allows foster parents to apply for ‘special guardianship’ orders that, if granted, will enable them to take continuous responsibility for children until their eighteenth birthday.

“These changes will have a major impact on thousands of families,” said Felicity Collier, chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

“We know there are people eagerly awaiting [today] because they are an unmarried couple who would like to adopt jointly, because they are fostering a child and want to make sure the child can stay with them for the rest of their childhood or because they would desperately like know more about a child they gave up for adoption many years ago.

“We welcome the fact that no identifying information about adopted adults will be given without their consent but we believe there are many adopted adults who have not made the first approach in case it is not welcomed by their birth parent but who would want to respond if they knew their birth parent was concerned to know how they were.

“Opening up adoption to unmarried partners will encourage more people to consider adoption and this is very important at a time when too many children wait too long in temporary care waiting for an adoptive family or, in some cases, never have the chance of adoption at all.

“Foster carers often want to make a permanent commitment to a child whom they love and are caring for but for one reason or another it is not right to legally sever the child from their birth parents through adoption.  Special guardianship will give the child much greater security about the future and we welcome this major new order,” she said.

■  The Scottish Executive is currently reviewing adoption policy in Scotland.

LINK

Stonewall resource page on same-sex adoption.

 

 

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Posted: 30 December 2005 at 15:00 (UK time)

 

 

 

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