4. Adoption by Married Couples or Single People

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 20 November 2001.

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We reiterate the concern expressed in our previous evidence (paragraph 9) at the failure to use this chance to amend the law by allowing two people living in a stable union—whether heterosexual or homosexual—to adopt. Since that evidence was presented, BAAF has commissioned a MORI poll on attitudes to adoption, chiefly with the object of refining recruitment initiatives. One of the questions asked was about the respondents' attitude to the restriction of adoption orders to married couples or single people. 68% of respondents expressed the view that unmarried couples living in a stable relationship should be allowed to adopt, and only 18% disagreed with this proposition (a copy of the relevant findings is attached at annex 1.) The idea of adoption agencies operating ''blanket bans'' on certain categories of would-be adopters is rightly condemned; this current restriction enshrines in the law a blanket ban of its own. The assessment process would, as it already does, focus on the strength and stability of the relationship between the two adults as a critical factor in the decision on approval, and the court would, as it does in any other case, still have the final say.

At a time when considerable debate is taking place both within and outside Parliament about the possibility of some form of registration of relationships outside marriage it would seem regrettable to draft adoption legislation in such a way as to exclude the possibility of permitting couples whose unions were registered to apply jointly for adoption.

BAAF strongly recommends that the Bill should allow for unmarried couples to make a joint legal commitment to a child through adoption.