Same-Sex Adoption in the UK
Legal Rights of Same-Sex Couples in Adoptions
According to the Adoption and Children Act of 2002 (entered into force in 2005), gay and lesbian single persons as well as same-sex couples have a right to adopt a child in the UK. The Act also rejected the prior requirement to adopt – to be married but it also gave more rights to foster parents who are now allowed to apply for special guardianship that gives them the right to take care of their foster children continuously until the age of 18 years. The UK is only one of 14 countries where same-sex couples can legally adopt children.
In order to be eligible for adopting a child in the UK, you must:
- be at least 21 years old; no upper age limit exists but you are expected to be of good health
- be resident of the UK
- not have any convictions for particular offences
The Same-Sex Adoption Process
You can apply for adoption in the UK if you meet the requirements above regardless of your sexual orientation and regardless of your relationship status. But in order to be able to become an adoptive parent, you must be confirmed as suitable by the adoption agency and be able to meet a matched child’s needs. Several factors will be considered before you will be considered as a potential adopter besides the above mentioned requirements including your age, health, financial situation, religion, ethnic background, children in your family, etc.. If you are in a relationship, you can apply for adoption as a single parent but you may also apply together with your partner for joint legal parenting.
Same-Sex Adoption in Practice
As gay or lesbian single or same-sex couple, you have the same rights as heterosexual singles and couples, while adoption agencies are legally not allowed to refuse you as a potential adopter on the basis of your sexual orientation. However, many gay and lesbian singles and couples who would like to adopt a child in the UK report that they are not treated the same as heterosexual applicants. In comparison to the latter, gay and lesbian couples wait longer to be able to adopt and are usually given older children rather than babies who are typically placed with heterosexual married couples. Also, the Adoption and Children Act applies only to the UK which means that same-sex couples sometimes may not be able to adopt a child from outside of the UK.