Scottish Adoption Week is taking place this year from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 November 2018. Adoption UK and Adoption & Fostering Alliance Scotland have been chosen by the Scottish Government to coordinate a series of events.

Adoption has evolved in Scotland over the years to keep up with changing societal views, family dynamics and relationships. It is the legal relationship created by an order of court between (an) adoptive parent(s) and a child which replaces the legal relationship with the child's natural parents. It confers upon the adoptive parent(s) rights and responsibilities to allow them to make important decisions for the child. The legal framework is laid down in the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007.

There is a legal mechanism for adoption of step-children by step-parents as well as private adoption of other children.

Many individuals and families may be considering adoption of a child but may be unaware of the process for adoption and whether they would be considered suitable. Here are some common queries:

  • Am I too old to adopt a child? There is no upper-age limit for adopting a child. The prospective adopter must be over twenty one for private adoptions. For step-parent adoptions, the natural parent must be over the age of eighteen and the prospective adopter must be over the age of twenty one.
  • Do I have to be married to adopt a child? There is no requirement for couples applying to adopt a child to be married. A single person can apply to adopt a child. For step-parent adoptions, the prospective adopter must be married to, in a civil partnership with or in an "enduring family relationship" with the child's natural mother or father. Whether a couple have been in an "enduring family relationship" is fact-dependent but generally requires demonstrating a stable and long-term relationship.
  • Does my sexuality preclude me from adopting a child? LGBTQ individuals and couples are entitled to be considered for adoption of a child.
  • Will my health preclude me from adopting a child? There is no statutory requirement to be of good health to adopt a child. However, the court will require to be satisfied that any health condition would not impair your ability to parent the child.
  • Can I adopt where I already have a child or children living in my family home? There is no distinction in law between individuals or couples who already parent a child or children and those who do not.
  • Does my income and employment have an impact on my ability to adopt? Whilst the court will require to be satisfied that an individual has or couple have sufficient means to support the child, there are no specific criteria concerning occupations or income levels. Adopters will be entitled to take Statutory Adoption Leave if in employment.

The adoption process usually commences by approaching an adoption agency. There are a number of practical and emotional considerations that require to be addressed before considering adoption. An adoption agency can assist in identifying and discussing these with prospective adopters. The approach of the courts to adoption, particularly in relation to whether a child should maintain direct contact with their natural parents upon adoption, has evolved and is an important consideration for some families.


Garry Sturrock

Senior Associate