The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 came into force on 28th September 2009, making major changes to the law surrounding adoption, writes solicitor Gus Macaulay. The press has focused much of its attention on the fact that it will now be possible for a same-sex couple to adopt a child together.
However, the act also makes other important provisions.
Some of the key changes are: The Act introduces a completely new order which can be granted in respect of a child, a “Permanence Order”. The new orders will be granted in respect of children who can no longer live with their families for some reason. They are designed to be a flexible way of giving certain rights and responsibilities in respect of the child to the Local Authority. It is hoped that they can be tailored to each child’s needs.
The Act increases Local Authorities’ duty to provide services to a wide range of people affected by the adoption process. Once the Local Authority has deemed somebody to be in need of such support services they will have to compile an ‘Adoption Support Plan’, setting out the support which will be offered. As a result of the new act, the opportunity to adopt as a couple now extends to a much wider range of people. So long as a couple is a “relevant couple”, they are eligible to adopt in this way; civil partners and cohabiting couples who are not married or in a civil partnership, as well as married couples can now consider it.
Adoption by step-parents constitutes an increasingly large portion of adoptions in Scotland and the extended concept of a “relevant couple” also applies to these kinds of adoptions. Someone who is married to, in a civil partnership with, or cohabiting with a parent of a child is eligible to adopt them under the act.