In the sixth episode of the series we ask "What do I do if…I am adopting in a same-sex relationship?"
Highly experienced family lawyer, Garry Sturrock discusses the law and process surrounding same-sex adoption in Scotland alongside Andrew Askew Blain, who has been through the adoption process himself along with his husband.
Garry and Andrew discuss the different pathways to parenthood for same-sex couples, the positive experiences as well as the challenges of adoption in Scotland, as well as how long the adoption process takes.
David Lee, Podcast host
David Lee hosts the 'What do I do if..? podcast. David is an experienced journalist, writer and broadcaster and he is also the host of 'The Case Files' podcast by Brodies.
00:00:05 David Lee, Host
Hello, my name is David Lee, and welcome to Podcast by Brodies. Experts from Brodies operate in many areas of the law every day, and their clients ask a very wide range of questions during their time working with the lawyers, whether they're navigating new or more familiar situations together.
In each episode of our series, “What do I do if...?” Brodies experts from various fields explain how they help clients when faced with some of those different scenarios and those difficult questions.
The latest series of episodes features Brodies personal and family team, and today we're looking at the question, “What do I do if I'm adopting in a same-sex relationship?”
My guests are Garry Sturrock, a highly experienced family lawyer with Brodies and Andrew Askew Blain a senior associate at Brodies who has adopted himself with his husband. He will speak from a personal point of view rather than as a legal expert in this podcast.
Welcome to Garry and to Andrew.
Garry to you first of all, a couple of fundamental questions.
What's the law on adoption for same sex couples in Scotland and when were there last any changes to that legislation?
00:01:18 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
I'm not going to get too much into the law itself or the legislation because it's quite detailed and complex, but in general terms, a prospective adopter can adopt a child if they're over the age of twenty-one years old and if they've stopped fertility treatment, if that's applicable, and if they've been trying to conceive, if they've got a spare bedroom for the child and they're able to satisfy an adoption agency and and indeed in due course, the court, that their health and financial circumstances are such that they're able to adopt. So same sex couples can adopt.
So in answer to your second question, the law changed on the 29th of September 2009, which is when the 2007 act came into place.
That was a long time ago now and we've come quite a long way and since then.
So the most recent statistics are showing that 1 in 12 adoptions recently were to an LGBT+ couple, whereas when the legislation was first enacted, the statistics showed that 5 out of 466 adoptions in 2010 were to LGBT+ couples. So things have come a long way since the legislation was enacted.
00:02:34 David Lee, Host
So Garry, can you just summarize what are the different pathways to parenthood for same sex couples?
00:02:41 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
Adoption is going to be the focus of our discussion today but the main alternatives, which will depend on the couple themselves and their ability to select those pathways to parenthood, include IVF, and it also includes intrauterine insemination, which is also known as artificial insemination and then surrogacy is another way for same sex couples to achieve parenthood.
00:03:09 David Lee, Host
There's obviously quite a number of different pathways to parenthood there, as outlined by Garry, Andrew.
When did it all start for you and your husband? What options did you discuss and why did you decide to adopt in the end?
00:03:27 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
We were actually discussing this the other night and we really struggled to pinpoint a date where we decided to become parents.
It's something that had always been on our radar and we knew we wanted to pursue at some point as our relationship developed.
We started to think more and more strongly about it, and then that took us down the route of, well, how on Earth are we going to do this? That was the biggest issue for us was, “how?” And we overcame that really quickly because when we sort of sat down to answer that question, we both just said adoption. And to be honest, we then didn't really look at any of the other options or routes to parenthood.
It's a very personal decision, as Garry said, and our personal view was that if there is a child out there looking for a forever family home and we were looking to bring a child into our family, then that was the clear route for us. So we overcame that one quite quickly.
The other issue for us was whether we felt that we were ready at this particular time.
I suppose everyone says there's no right or wrong time to become parents. We had however been living in a one-bedroom flat and thought if we're going to pursue this and if we are serious about pursuing this, then we're going to have to set up the right environment at home to bring a child into that.
So we got ourselves onto the property ladder. Moved out to the suburbs, a house with some extra bedrooms, a nice enclosed garden at the back and thought we have this base now we just have to crack on with it.
00:05:16 David Lee, Host
And how did you find the information out there, Andrew?
Was there a lot of useful information on adoption and was that helpful in you making that decision to go ahead?
00:05:28 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
There is an awful lot of really useful stuff out there. What I will say is that there is just a lot of stuff out there as well. So it can take a bit of time to sift through all of that information and it can be incredibly overwhelming.
It's a huge decision to come to and a pretty intense process that you end up going through if this is the pathway for becoming parents for you.
So what I found was actually more useful was in-person events, which there are loads of, that anyone can go along to and find out more about adoption, about the process.
What sparked our journey with adoption was that my husband had actually spotted an ad on Twitter for our local authority, who were hosting an LGBT+ adoption awareness evening. It was just the week or so after he spotted it, so we got ourselves signed up to it and headed along and it was fantastic.
We got to meet social workers from the local authority. We got to meet a variety of adopters, whether they were same sex couples, other couples, single people, whole range of ages and all at different stages in the process. So it was a really good evening for us to go and find out about the process and what it would cover.
00:06:58 David Lee, Host
So it was maybe more about that real life experience of meeting people who'd done it rather than just reading words on a computer screen that brought it alive for you?
00:07:08 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
I mean, I'm a lawyer, I read all day and then reading all evening about adoption was great and really informed me about it. But it's such a personal thing to do, that in-person interaction and just asking really stupid questions of people that were whoever stage in the process, it was always better to ask someone that was slightly further ahead than you the questions, because they would probably have been through that particular aspect.
But yeah, the in-person stuff that you can get your hands on is invaluable.
00:07:47 David Lee, Host
Garry, when it comes to training of those prospective adopters and that process of ensuring couples are serious and suitable, what happens?
What is the what's the training all about?
00:08:07 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
I think I would preface that explanation by starting to say that it's a really rigorous training application and selection process for prospective adopters, and rightly so, and given that it involves often vulnerable children who have, on some occasions experienced, adverse childhood experiences.
So great care is taken to make sure that prospective adopters can provide the child with a suitable, loving, stable and permanent home. And that they are in a position where they're able to deal with the various challenges that adoption itself can present.
So in terms of the actual selection process, training, etcetera, the first step for prospective adopters is they find an agency and they discuss the process with them.
There's then usually a two stage application process the firsts and initial income. Then there's a more formal application with references and some other documents that need to be provided.
They then prepare for adoption by undergoing quite specific and thorough training, and the training is designed to allow prospective adopters to understand the reality of adoption, and to find out more about what support is available to them in the future.
The training itself covers various things that one might expect, including child development, trauma and general important parenting skills as well.
Once that process has been completed, the link worker is then assigned from the adoption agency, and they'll carry out a home study. The home studies normally are between 6 and 12 months, and it's a series of sessions between the link worker and the prospective adopters.
The home study really goes into the background of those seeking to adopt and really gets into the bottom of their understanding of the needs of an adopted child and how they are going to be as adoptive parents.
And it also goes a wee bit into their own health and financial stability to make sure that they are suitable for adoption. Then if they’re approved and they wish to proceed, their cases are then presented to an adoption approval panel.
00:10:17 David Lee, Host
Wow, so quite a lot to go through. So Andrew, how did you find all of that?
How did you find what sounds like quite a lengthy, detailed, complex process?
00:10:28 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
It was much more detailed than I think I could have expected it to be.
I compare it, when I'm talking to friends and other people about it, as being the equivalent of what I imagine the therapy is like, and we had our assessor social worker come to visit us every Monday evening for the best part of a year, we were we were slightly shorter than a year.
Starting right back from childhood, your earliest memory to present day. There was analyzing, there were dots being dots being joined that I would never have thought to have joined throughout my life, and your experiences of how you were parented.
How you think that may have affected you and may sort of set your own parenting style and techniques? It was unbelievable.
It was quite tough for a Monday evening and the sessions were anything from an hour to about three hours long. So it was quite intense.
You also do some before that starts a course called “Prep to adopt”, certainly you do with the local authority which is the route we went down. And that was a four-day course of full days with other potential adopters at the same stage as we were.
It covered a full range of things, but it also provided a really useful network of support of other people that were going through what you were going through, because it's a unique personal thing, but it was really nice to know that there were other people that were doing it as well and that could provide that support to you.
The other training that you are given that surprised me, but I was really glad we got it, was some first aid training, which I thought was a fantastic thing. It seemed so obvious and I think all parents should go and get some child first aid training because we haven't had to use it so far, but I'm really grateful that we've had it.
Certainly the local authority sort of helps you as much as they possibly can to give you the tools and to make sure that you are ready for this, and it's part of the whole assessment process that they are checking that you are suitable, but they're also giving you the tools to get you there if there are some gaps that they feel you need to fill before you're ready to become a parent.
So it was grueling but positive is how I would summarise it.
00:13:06 David Lee, Host
Thanks very much, Andrew for that. It's really, really interesting.
Garry, again, what you said before, the word “rigorous” very much comes to mind in terms of the training that prospective adopters are going through.
Can you then take us to the next stage and explain how the matching process between a child and the prospective adopters happens? How the placement of a child takes place and the actual process of adoption itself?
00:13:33 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
By the matching stage, the link social worker should, given their involvement with the family and given their understanding of the child's and or the children that are registered with them for adoption, they should have a really good understanding of the prospective adopters and they'll be able to work hard to identify a suitable match.
So the social worker will usually first check whether there are any local children known to the agency and who could be suitable potential matches for the child.
And if there's not a suitable local match, then the social worker will check the Scotland Adoption register.
All children who are registered for adoption and prospective adopters themselves who have been approved, should be on the national register within three months. This is a register of children across Scotland who are looking for placements and of course the opposite, where there's a register of those looking to adopt.
The social worker will then identify a match and discuss that potential match with prospective adopters.
But in advance of this, they've more than likely had some detailed discussions with the child’s social worker to assess whether this potential match could be the right one, after quite significant discussion between the child’s social worker, the link social worker, and their perspective adopters if everyone agrees to proceed, there's then a matching panel, who will then formally decide whether or not this match will be approved.
Then comes the placement stage, and there will be careful planning for the placement of a child with perspective adopters.
As you can imagine, those children are with other families and usually in advance of being placed with the perspective adopters. So there needs to be a good bit of work that takes place to be able to place that child successfully with the perspective adopters, who will then usually the child's foster carers until adoption.
In some cases, the children’s hearing needs to approve the prospective adopters as foster carers and approve the move to their home.
As maybe alluded to by Andrew, there's generally a phased approach that's taken to placement of children with prospective adopters. What would happen is that the child would meet the prospective adopters first, and they'll build up that relationship and incrementally increase the replacement with them and building up to them staying in their home with a view to that being their permanent home.
After that then, David, you've asked about the adoption process.
In terms of the process itself, there's two main things to consider.
Prospective adopters themselves can actually lodge a petition with the court for direct adoption.
That means that the local store I don't need to be involved at all, apart from preparing a report for the Court.
So for children have been placed by an adoption agency, the child's got to be at least 19 weeks old or six months if the child's involved in international adoption.
The child’s got to have been placed with effective adopters for a period of three weeks immediately preceding the making of the order by the court.
In terms of the process itself, a direct petition for adoption can be quite difficult, and it can be quite a long and emotionally taxing process for prospective adopters, particularly if birth parents, are going to oppose the adoption.
The alternative is the local authority can apply for a permanence order with authority to adopt, which is an order that is sought to deprive birth parents of their parental responsibilities and rights and ask the court to approve the child for adoption.
If that's granted, then the prospective adopters can then raise the petition for adoption.
But unlike a direct petition, they don't need to seek the consent of parents or seek for the court to dispense with the consent of parents because that's already been dealt with in another process.
So it can be a much more streamlined and quicker process and for those involved, particularly for prospective adopters.
In terms of the actual process itself, the petitions lodged with the court, the agency that's involved will then lodge a report with the court. Someone called a curator ad litem and reporting officer will be appointed by the courts. That's an independent person who's experienced in these types of matters to prepare a report for the court, and it's an independent person that will provide that report and their recommendations as to whether the adoption should be granted.
Now the court process can be expeditious, so it could be dealt with fairly quickly, potentially at a first calling of a case, if it's not opposed. Or it may be a slightly longer process and whereby witnesses may require to give evidence in the court then makes a decision at the end of that as to whether the adoption should be granted, considering the legal tests to be applied.
Even in where there is a proof fixed in these cases, David, the rules of court say that these cases need to be dealt with expeditiously because, we're dealing with children here, and so the courts do recognise the importance of decisions being reached fairly quickly.
00:18:42 David Lee, Host
You used the word “grueling” before Andrew, it does sound like quite a grueling process and you were just talking about the training.
If I can just talk about your specific circumstances relating back to what Garry’s just said.
How long did that process take for you and when did the adoption of your child finally go through, Andrew?
00:19:02 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
It is a long process.
I wouldn't want to put anyone off because I think it has to be, in some respects, a long process because there's a lot of thinking needs to be done.
There's a lot of other people's views need to be taken into account to make sure that this is the right thing to do, because it's a huge thing to move a child from whatever care they are in at that time into some into another family in any circumstances.
If I take it from when we went to our drop in evening that I spoke about earlier, we were three years from that night to completing the court process.
Our son was identified as a potential match in late summer 2019 and we went to panel for approval to adopt him in early 2020, when the initial links started and we got to meet him and start that transition that Garry spoke about.
The formal transition period was meant to start in spring that year, but COVID struck, which was totally out with anyone's control, so that caused a good bit of delay.
It was quite tough because what we felt, was the final hurdle of bringing him into our family to then being told actually everything has to be put on hold as we're in lockdown, no one knows when we can restart this...we had to have a big gulp and then sort of come to terms with that and then move on. We had to pause there.
When we were able to start was just the summer of that year, so it wasn't a huge, huge gap.
What it did allow us to do was to build more of a connection with him or be it virtually so.
His foster family were absolutely fantastic in facilitating video calls, we would have one sort of once a week, maybe two or three times a week, just short calls, just to let him know that we were still there because he was two at the time, but he had been told that this was going to be happening and then it didn't happen.
So we had to keep the channels of communications open, let him know we were still here. Things were still going to be happening.
He then moved in with us, as I call it, which people sometimes laugh at me, and suggests that he sounds a bit like a lodger. But he then moved in over a period of two weeks when we could get started again.
That was a a transition plan that had been reviewed by us, our social worker, his social worker, his foster carer, his foster carer’s social worker - everyone got to input into it to make sure that it was completely bespoke and was right for everyone involved and then that sort of took place over as I said, a two-week process and my goodness, it was exhausting. Really enjoyable, but yeah, it was quite the, quite the emotional, emotional strain it took on everyone, I think.
He then had to - Garry, you can correct me if I if my memory doesn't serve me right - he had to be in our care for 90 days before we went down the direct petition route, before we could petition the court to adopt him.
He was with us for a bit longer than that before we got to that and COVID and court openings and things caused a bit of delay, but it was all wrapped up by spring 2021. So it was three full years, but looking back now, it was quite a good experience, but at points it was pretty tough.
00:23:00 David Lee, Host
And what did you feel, Andrew, when you know the adoption finally went through? Everything was done and your son was yours, he was with you for good.
And how have you found that experience of being a parent?
Because the whole process is tough, but then actually being a parent at the end of it. How have you found all of that?
00:23:23 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
Yeah, yes, it certainly is tough.
I mean, people did warn us it was going to be tough, but I feel as if they did sugarcoat it a little bit.
The day it all became official was quite a strange day because he had been part of our families from the day we met him, essentially.
He had just been our son from that day from the first day that we met him.
And had been in our care for so long by the time that the Court had approved it, all that it was.
It was a really nice day, but it feels less of a key day than the first day we met him, because that to me and to my husband, that was the day that he became our son.
And then the rest of it was the process that was gone through.
So it was a lovely day, and we didn't get our day in court because of COVID.
I think usually, Garry you'll have some experience of this on adoptions when they go through the sheriff, that the Sheriff Court likes to get a photograph with the family and and all of that when it's gone through, but we got none of that.
But I remember getting a call standing in a play park saying essentially that it had all gone through, and the order had been granted, so it was, yeah, it was a lovely day.
00:24:48 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
Just reflecting on something that I understood there about the adoption itself by that stage in in all cases where the adoptions being applied before the child's being placed with the prospective adopters for some time.
As a curator ad litem myself, I deal with some cases quite frequently and report to the Court in these circumstances.
And in every case I've been involved with, the words are almost the same that are repeated by everyone, and they say it's more of a formality. And and it's more of a piece of paper confirming that that child is officially part of their family.
But by that stage, they've already cemented the roots into the family, they feel part of the furniture and they feel integrated fully into that family.
And many just see this as now the final piece of the puzzle and to make that official for the child’s long-term future. And so, the child, when they're an adult, knows that they're a permanent part of that family.
00:25:45 David Lee, Host
And in your experience, Garry, are some couples put off by the length and complexity of the whole process?
00:25:57 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
I think it's inevitable really, David, that many couples will be daunted by the length of the process and just how many steps are involved in it.
But those that are genuinely interested in providing a permanent home for a child, should hopefully conclude that the process is there for a good reason.
And that it's also not just about assessing their suitability, but providing them as Andrew said, preparing them for the experience of being adoptive parents and once they understand that process and engage with it, they'll hopefully see the reasons behind that and commit to that process once they fully understand what's involved.
The other thing I would say on another note, I think it’s fair to say that everyone knows that people who conceive children naturally have a nine month wait, for their child as well.
So for comparing sort of timescales involved, although it can seem quite a long process, parents who are conceiving or having children through natural conception also have that time to prepare and think about things in many cases. So you need to bear these timescales in mind.
00:27:15 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
Sorry, just to jump in as well there. We didn't consider the three years to be a huge amount of time to go through this process because we were conscious that anyone going to going to adoption may have considered other routes first, so may have already had quite a period of time passed where they have wanted to be parents and then maybe considered adoption as an alternative route.
So three years from our first, “we're committed to this, we're going to go and find out a bit more about it,” to the court order being granted, bearing in mind he was with us long before the court order was granted, wasn't really a huge amount of time when you put it into perspective.
00:27:59 David Lee, Host
OK, that's really interesting that you say that.
And Garry, we've come up to the point in Andrew's story where the adoption becomes legal as the formality, as you put it, because of the time the child is as often spent with the with the parents before.
So what happens afterwards in a legal sense what the important legal considerations after the adoption has taken place?
00:28:21 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
After the adoption has taken place, that child is treated as a child of the family, as any other child would be treated.
So in terms of legal implications, for example inheritance, that child is treated as your child and you have the same obligations and responsibilities as a parent as you would with any other child, for example, the right and responsibility to direct that child and to make sure that you ensure their welfare and that you are responsible for them financially.
So that is one of the main things to consider with adoption. I don't think any person who has gone through that process would be in any doubt about those things that happen after adoption is just part and parcel of the process.
But the biggest thing I think that needs to be mentioned in terms of the adoption story for most children is that adoption now isn't always a clean slate where they're starting with a new family, because these children have their own life story in their own background, and often the approach of the courts is for the involvement of their birth families to continue to some extent.
So now a common feature of adopted cases in Scotland, which can often be quite a contentious issue when cases are litigated and there's action raised for adoptions, is about post-adoptive contact.
As you can imagine, David, there's competing interests involved, so there's the resistance of birth parents to relinquish their sort of relationship with their child, and often the desire of adoptive parents to allow the child an opportunity for a fresh start, unencumbered by their past and any past experiences.
But the court's focus really needs to be on the best interests of the child. When weighing up and assessing that the best interests of the child, it can be quite a delicate balance for the court to think about so on the one hand, sometimes maintaining a direct link with birth parents, for example, minimise the risk of a child idealising their past life with their parents, and it can help reassure them about each other's welfare.
It can also help adoptive children deal with the issue of identity and help them know their own past. So medical and family history as well, and it can give a really important sense of identity to the child to have some sort of ongoing link with their birth parents.
So in some circumstances the court may continue direct contact. It maybe once every six months, it maybe once a year, it maybe three or four times a year.
In some circumstances that's considered by the court to be appropriate and others the court make for example an order that there will be indirect contact, so that's usually an exchange of letters between the birth parents and the child's adoptive parents.
It’s generally for the adoptive parents to decide as the child grows and they mature, how those letters are dealt with and and often it's a two-way street.
So the adoptive parents will write back with some updates on the child and give photographs.
And from my experience, particularly curator ad litem, it's quite a common thing now to be involved in the letterbox exchange program.
And social workers are there really to help facilitate that and manage and post adoptive contact.
But again, last piece of advice on that one, David, I would say is that anyone going through adoption should really bear this in mind.
That post-adoptive contact will be something that the court will consider. They need to consider how they will deal with that themselves and their views on this and how they will best facilitate that if it's something that the court orders.
00:32:04 David Lee, Host
Andrew, do you want to come in on this as well?
00:32:07 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
Yeah, our practical experience of it is that we will engage in an indirect letterbox contact. I first heard about post-adoptive contact during the prep to adopt course and I can't lie, it really worried and daunted me that the prospect of this ongoing contact and how that might go and and I it did really quite scare us when we realised what it might entail and the different levels of it.
But as we went through the assessment process and learned more about it, my attitude totally shifted and I was quite keen for there to be some form of contact, whatever everyone deemed most appropriate.
And then my concern then shifted to, well you would want to hope it was a two way street if there was some sort of contact. And that everyone was getting involved in it.
So I totally shifted from thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is really scary,” to then thinking, “I want it to happen, and I want it to really work.”
As Garry said, it's really important, I think, for the child's identity to know what their background is and for no secrets to be kept and to keep them updated with from birth parents lives and where they essentially came from and keeping it age appropriate and making sure that they know everything that they need to know at whatever stage they're at in their lives.
00:33:37 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
I think it's important, just to add to what Andrew said, David, that there are situations of course where the courts will in some circumstances decide that it's not appropriate for child to maintain that direct or indirect link or contact with their parents because of the circumstances or background.
For example, where the birth parents have a real resistance to that child moving on and they may be seen as potentially disrupting the child placement with the prospective adopters or by that stage, the adoptive parents.
So the court does have to assess what is in this individual child's best interests and but bearing in mind that often and that will come down as Andrew says, on maintaining a link and to have some sort of connection with birth parents and and to enhance that child sense of identity. But it's not always the case.
00:34:29 David Lee, Host
So we've been through the whole process here obviously in a truncated way, you know in in 30 minutes rather than three years. But overall, Andrew, was your experience positive?
And, I'm also interested, do you think you and your husband faced any different challenges as a same-sex couple throughout this whole process?
00:34:49 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
With hindsight, it was a really positive experience.
I can't lie that there were some challenges to it. Both my husband and I like to be in control of things and it's something that we just had no control over pretty much any aspect of it, not knowing what was going on at certain times. It was quite stressful, particularly as COVID took over and everything seemed to just grind to a halt, which was quite upsetting for us and our wider families and just everyone involved. So waiting for news could often be quite difficult.
Advice I would give anyone who's going into it is don't be afraid to just get in touch with social workers or anyone that's involved in the process just for an update.
Even if there is no update, it's just nice to hear from someone to know that you're still on their radar. Because it is such a long process, sometimes your mind will race, and you'll wonder what's going on. So just that little bit of reassurance now and again is quite good.
I'm pleased to say that I didn't see any challenges because we were same-sex adopters. We were treated exactly the same as any other prospective adopter and would be treated.
We did, as part of the assessment process, have to talk a little bit about whether we had faced any prejudice as a same-sex couple in any aspect of our lives and explore that from younger years through to AD.
Come look at how we how we overcame many challenges, and then also think about how we might deal with any prejudice that our son might face at any point during his life, because he has same-sex parents. So it was explored and talked about. We made sure there were strategies in place for dealing with that if it were ever to arise and hopefully it doesn't come.
So no, we there was no particular challenges because we were a same-sex couple.
00:36:55 David Lee, Host
And Garry, a final word from you, Andrew has given some pieces of advice there, what about from yourself?
When you're dealing with couples in this situation, what's your one or two real pearls of wisdom to help them through this long process?
00:37:12 Garry Sturrock, Associate, Brodies LLP
Much of what I have to say would mirror what Andrew says. It could be an arduous process, but it's hugely rewarding. There's lots of excellent information out there, in fact, about the adoption process.
What I would implore couples, and particularly same sex couples, to do if they are considering adoption is to find out more about the process, if they are interested in becoming parents and they're looking at pathways to parenthood.
The website of Adoption in Scotland is an excellent resource for information about the process and about general advice about what it's like to be an adoptive parent.
There's also a number of networks. There could be local networks, there can be, as Andrew spoke, about nights are organised and aimed at LGBT+ couples specifically.
There's also websites such as New Family Social, which is a charity dedicated to supporting LGBT+ couples who are looking to adopt.
So look at the process, get as much information as you can and really involve yourself before you take that step in terms of committing.
The other piece of advice, again goes back to the whole process and post-adoption. You are one part of this child's life story, and as Andrew said, it's really important that you bear that in mind when you're thinking about adoption and when you're dealing with a child as an adoptive parent. The social work department work really hard, the link agency work really hard with adoptive parents to give them advice on how to manage any questions from children as they grow and about their life story, about their background and about talking to them about being an adopted child.
Gone is the idea, David, that the child doesn't find out until they're 16 that they were adopted. The current advice and guidance is, generally always, that a child should know that they're adopted and that's discussed with them throughout their childhood, so that there's no surprises when they reach adulthood.
So it's about preparing yourself for having conversations with their children, with your child, about their life story. Getting support from professionals if you need that support to be able to manage those queries or questions.
00:39:29 David Lee, Host
And finally Andrew, put yourself back at the very start of the process, imagine someone else is in that position having that conversation that that you had with your partner all those years ago.
What's your simple piece of advice to them?
Should they go for it?
00:39:46 Andrew Askew Blain, Senior associate, Brodies LLP
Yep, they absolutely should. It is one of the most rewarding things I think my husband and I have done.
We look at our son now and he is a total ball of energy that keeps us on our toes. If you have challenges to work through and you crack a challenge and, well, there's just one waiting in the wings to replace it, and you get through that one as well, but it is incredibly rewarding.
We're watching his little personality develop now. We're teaching him things, he's teaching us things.
Absolutely go for it and really, really embrace your support network. You might not know how big your support network is sitting today. But when you get through this process, you'll realise just how many people there are in your life, and professionals involved who will support you throughout the process and also sort of post-adoptive care and everyone is just a phone call or now a knock on the door – post- COVID – away to help you.
So yeah, I would very much recommend it.
It's a really, really great thing to have done and we’re thoroughly enjoying it.
00:40:53 David Lee, Host
Thank you very much Andrew and thank you to Garry for your great insights there.
You've been listening to Podcast by Brodies with some of the country's leading lawyers and special guests share their Enlightened Thinking about the big issues and developments having an impact on the legal sector and what that means for organisations, businesses and individuals across the economy and society of the UK.