At the risk of stating the obvious, deciding to adopt a child is one of the most significant life choices an individual or couple can make. It is a decision which also has the potential to transform the life of the child they welcome into their family. The clients we advise through the adoption process have shared with us a variety of reasons for choosing that particular path to parenthood.

Why adopt?

Many couples and individuals adopt as they are unable to conceive naturally. Others, such as step-parents, adopt within an existing family setting. Adoption has also provided a route for many same sex couples to become parents without the need to rely on a surrogate or sperm donor. However, recent research suggests the emergence of another factor which may be prompting some people to consider adoption……climate change.

Adoption to reduce carbon footprint?

It has been reported that that not having children (or having fewer children) is the most effective step a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint, and that other measures such recycling, eating a plant-based diet and avoiding unnecessary air travel combined have much less of an impact. These reports also make reference to a small, but increasing, number of parents who claim to have chosen to adopt rather than having a biological child or subsequent children due to climate concerns. That might seem like quite a radical step to take, but for those who may be struggling to reconcile their desire to become parents with concern over the impact that may have on the climate, adoption may present a solution.

Pathway to adoption in Scotland

No matter what motivates a prospective adoptive parent to embark on their adoption journey, the process will follow a similar path. They will require to be vetted, to attend training and to participate in a home study. If approved for adoption they will be matched with a child, who is then placed in their care. The formal legal process can only begin once the child is more than 19 weeks old and has been living with the prospective adoptive family for at least 13 weeks. After that, an application for an Adoption Order can be made to the court. The sheriff or judge can only make the order if they are satisfied that the proposed adoption will "safeguard and promote the child's welfare throughout their life."

The court process involves further investigation into the proposed adoption and the impact that it is likely to have on the child. The consent of the child's natural parents is required unless one of a limited number of grounds for dispensing with parental consent applies. Once the adoption order is granted, the adoptive parents acquire full parental rights and responsibilities for the child and any rights still retained by the natural parents are extinguished. From a legal point of view, the child is treated as if they were born to the adoptive parents, and an adopted child is treated equally in law to any biological child of their parents.

If you are considering adopting a child, the family law team are able to advise and guide you through all aspects of the adoption process. Learn more about how we can help here, or get in touch.

This is the third instalment of our Green Family Law series.  Read our other blogs in the series- part one and part two.


Zoe Wray