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Adoption legalised for same-sex couples

December 2005

The Adoption and Children Act came into effect on 30 December 2005, three years after being passed in November 2002, for the first time allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to apply for joint adoption.

Any unmarried couple, including a same-sex couple, wishing to adopt will need to be able to demonstrate that their partnership is an ‘enduring family relationship’.

Applications for adoption must be made to an adoption agency – the local authority or an approved adoption agency. It is not necessary to live in the area of the local authority to which the adoption application is made.
The adoption assessment is lengthy and very thorough. If you are a couple applying to adopt you will both be assessed and will need to demonstrate the stable and enduring nature of your relationship. Even if you are applying to adopt as a single parent, your partner will also be included in the assessment process.
If the initial assessment is favourable the application is referred to the Adoption Panel. If you are approved by the Adoption Panel a child or young person may be placed with you and depending on the success of the placement an application can be made to the court for an adoption order, when further reports will be placed before the court.

Stonewall is not aware of any local authorities who refuse to consider applications from lesbians and gay men although adoption agencies are able to do so (for example, if they are a religious agency which may have a policy of only placing children with married couples). It remains to be seen whether local authorities and other adoption agencies will actively welcome lesbian and gay couples as adoptive parents.

In practice the majority of children placed with lesbian and gay couples are ‘hard to place’ children.

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