The change in the law will enable same-sex couples to adopt jointly for the first time. Before the change a gay person could only apply to adopt as an individual, with their partner having no legal responsibility for the child.
Such adoptions have been rare in Scotland however. In Edinburgh, there have only ever been two such cases and in Glasgow just one.
Next Monday’s (September 28, ) reform comes four years after the same change was made in England and Wales where last year there were 80 adoptions by gay couples.
Loading article content
After the introduction of civil partnerships, it is one of the most significant changes to the law on gay rights in Scotland for 40 years.
Carl Watt, the director of the gay campaign group Stonewall, said: “What all children need and deserve most of all is a safe, secure, loving and stable home environment and same sex couples are equally able to provide this as opposite sex couples.
“This legislation also means that there will be hopefully fewer children in care homes and more with homes and families of their own.”
However, the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 legislation has been criticised by the Catholic Church.
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Church in Scotland, said yesterday that the Catholic Church had opposed the reform because it was not in the best interests of children.
“Children need security and stability and civil partnerships and same sex relationships are profoundly unstable,”
“This change is unlikely to have an effect on the shortage of adoptive parents because there are very few same sex couples interested in adoption.
“It would have been better if the Government had launched a campaign to encourage heterosexual married couples to consider adopting.”
A spokesperson for The British Association for Adoption and Fostering said: “The Act has increased the number of potential parents ready to provide a new home for a child who cannot grow up with their own family.”
Shona Hamilton, a Glasgow-basded family law specialist, says that she has never come across an adoption by a gay person in Scotland and certainly it is rare.
Ms Hamilton, of HBJ Gateley Wareing, says the new law is a natural progression, adding: “We are a few years down the road with civil partnerships and the natural progression would be to see some of those couples now looking to adopt.
“Local authorities will be required to ensure that all employees working in this field understand the implications of this new legislation.”
Turan Ali, who has nursed the desire to adopt for many years, is worried about how long this will take.
He said: “The change in the law takes away a legal barrier but it doesn’t change people’s prejudice, does it?”
Mr Ali, who is 49 and runs a broadcasting company in Edinburgh, has tried to adopt with his partner, who is a dentist, but believes they have been blocked in their attempts because of homophobia.
“The social workers we’ve met have said: ‘This would be a fantastic place for a kid to grow up but we’re going to have problems placing kids with you.’ ”
Mr Ali believes gay couples make good parents.
He said: “We’re more likely to have thought about it. It hasn’t happened by accident – we’re not two teenagers who’ve got pregnant and think: ‘I’m a kid myself and now I’ve got to bring up a kid.’ ”
Mr Ali also supports Elton John’s attempt to adopt a Ukrainian child. The singer has been told he cannot adopt the boy because Ukraine does not recognise gay marriage.
But Mr Ali said: “I don’t have a problem with it. If there are women getting pregnant in their 50s and 60s by artificial insemination, why should this be different?”
Adopting Carlos and PJ ‘felt totally natural’
Peter McGraith, who’s 44 and from Lanarkshire, has been a father for 16 months now and today he’s having a chilled-out afternoon in Glasgow with the boys.
He and his partner David, who live in London, adopted seven-year-old Carlos and PJ, who’s four, under legislation introduced in England and Wales in 2005 which allows gay couples to adopt as a couple.
In between tending to the boys, Peter says how delighted he is about the change in the law, having tried in the past to adopt in Glasgow. “It’s easier for gay people to adopt in London than Scotland at the moment,” says Peter, “but this is going to change. Things in Scotland are going to move very fast.”
Peter and David first met Carlos and PJ in May last year. Carlos looks up from his Harry Potter, says with a smile that he remembers the day, and then dives back into the book. “We met the first time for an hour,” says Peter. “The next night we had dinner, the next day we took them out of the house. It moved fairly fast.”
They took Carlos and PJ home at the end of the 10th day. “It felt totally natural,” says Peter.
David, who’s 38 and works in finance, says the adjustment was remarkably easy for the boys. “There were no tears, especially for Carlos who’d been told for the past two and a half years that they were looking for his Forever Family as they call it. He was ready for it to happen.”
David believes the change in the law will have short and long-term benefits. “I suspect there will be quite a few gay couples who have been
waiting to adopt who will suddenly come forward. The law might not change
everyone’s opinions but what it does do is make it less likely for them to express homophobic views.”
David is speaking from America where he is on business. He took four months’ adoption leave when the boys first arrived but it’s Peter who stays at home full-time. Peter is a natural with the boys: firm, fun, friendly and he says it was these qualities that made him a good choice as an adopter. “Generally we are fairly strict and that was part of what the social workers were looking for. They were looking for ‘robust adopters’ who could impose consistent boundaries.”