To celebrate LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering week 2021, we’ve answered below some frequently asked questions in relation to the adoption process in Scotland:
Q: Who can adopt?
A: In Scotland any individual aged 21 and over can apply to adopt a child if they have lived in Scotland for more than one year. There is no restriction in relation to race, sexual orientation or gender. The main goal is to allow children to be part of a healthy, stable, and safe family.
Q: Do I need to be in a couple to adopt?
A: No. Your relationship status does not preclude you from adopting. Single people, married couples, civil partners and unmarried couples are all able to adopt.
Q: Are LGBT+ adopters less likely to be selected?
A: No. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, non-binary and transsexual people are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. That means an adoption agency must assess you fairly, using the same criteria as heterosexual or cisgender applications. To put it another way, an adoption agency cannot turn your application down on the basis of your gender identity or sexual orientation.
Q: What proportion of Scottish adopters are LGBT+ people?
In Scotland there were 472 adoptions in 2019, an increase of 1 compared to 2018.
In that year, 1 in 12 adoptions in Scotland were to same sex couples. In 2020 that figure rose to 1 in 6 in England, 1 in 5 in Wales and 10 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Q: What does the process involve?
A: The key steps in the process are as follows:
- Select an adoption agency: The first step in the process is to contact a recognised adoption agency using the Scottish Adoption Register.
- Initial discussion: You will have an initial discussion with a Senior Practitioner at your Adoption Agency, at which you will provide information about your personal circumstances and discuss the reasons why you are interested in adoption. It will also give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
- Preparation Group: This stage comprises of various workshops and provides more in depth information on the process and what is involved in being an adoptive parent.
- Home study: At this point you will be assigned a link worker (social worker with specialist knowledge on adoptions) who will have an in-depth look into your home life and lifestyle. They will want to learn as much about you as possible and will ask questions about your own family and childhood, your employment and finances, your health, and any other points of relevance. This is where the formal assessment begins and it usually takes around 6 months.
- Panel: Once your link worker has completed their initial assessment and is in agreement that you should proceed, the next step is for you to attend a panel where the panel members will discuss your Home study. You will also be asked some further questions.
If the panel approves your application you will become fully approved adopter(s).
It is worth highlighting that the adoption assessment process is very robust and can at times feel intrusive. If you feel you are asked for information that would not normally be asked of a non-LGBT+ person, you can challenge what the grounds are for asking it. You may also wish to seek support from New Family Social, a UK charity that works with agencies to develop their services to be as LGBT+ inclusive and friendly as possible.
Q: How do you get matched with a child?
A: There are a few ways in which you can be matched with a child, whether it be privately or using Scotland’s Adoption Register. Once you have requested the details about the child you wish to adopt from their social worker, you will meet with the social worker. A linking meeting is then arranged in the Local authority where the child is based. That meeting is for all of the professional involved to explore the potential match. If the match is agreed, there will be a Matching Panel where the match will be discussed. If the match is agreed, the introductions between you and the child will be arranged.
Q: Will I be told about the child’s background?
A: Yes. Knowing a child’s experiences, how they have grown up and the challenges they have encountered is very important. By knowing a child’s history, you are better equipped and more understanding of their circumstances.
Q: How is the adoption formalised?
A: You will need to instruct a solicitor to make an application to the Sheriff Court for an Adoption Order. That order can only be granted once the child has been living you for at least 13 weeks. Once granted you will legally be the child’s parent(s).
Q: Will the child still see their birth parents or other relatives after adoption?
A: When the adoption order is granted, the child’s relationship with their biological parents is severed and replaced with the new parent-child relationship between you and the child. The biological parent(s) can only have contact with the child if the court thinks it would be in their child’s best interests.
If you have any queries about the adoption process, please do not hesitate to get in touch.