The Adoption and Children Act 2002: a level playing field for same-sex adopters?

10 APR 2007

Emma Hitchings, School of Law, University of Bristol, and Tracey Sagar, Department of Applied Social Sciences, University of Swansea. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (the 2002 Act) came into force fully on 30 December 2005. One of the features of the 2002 Act was the inclusion of same-sex couples as a category of potential adopter (s 144(4)(b). This was a last minute addition emerging from a drive to get children out of care homes and into families.

Various changes were made to the adoption process by the 2002 Act and this article analyses the results of a detailed study which looked at the effects of the 2002 Act on the adoption process from the perspective of five social workers. In particular the way in which the new legislation has (or has not) affected same-sex couples applying to adopt children is considered. The study showed that the adoption process remains discriminatory and generally problematic for same-sex adopters, with certain issues demonstrating a misalignment between theory and practice. Same-sex couples are expected to fulfil additional assessment criteria and there are further obstacles at placement stage. There is a general discrimination which emanates from a general view that what is in the best interests of a child is a nuclear family with clear male and female role models carrying out pre-conceived gender roles. This article looks at the legal and social issues which underlie the problems faced by same-sex couples wishing to adopt, and considers the other key concerns of social workers which were not addressed by the 2002 Act. For the full article see Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 19, No 1, 2007.

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