Effective 1st January 2006 unmarried and same-sex couples will be eligible to adopt children jointly, provided they are otherwise suitable. Previously such groups were able to adopt, but with only one member of the couple being able to adopt as an individual with the other member of the couple having no legal status in respect of the adopted child.
As with the Civil Partnerships Act, which recently became effective in England and Wales, the Scottish Executive chose to adopt the same changes simultaneously in Scotland so that the changes affect the whole of the UK. Whilst the Church of Scotland has on balance accepted that the change in the law is beneficial, the Roman Catholic Church, in the person of its most senior representative here (Cardinal Keith O'Brien), has expressed the view that youngsters would be victims of a "distorted social experiment"; luckily these views have not been allowed to prevail here by derailing the amendments to the legislation.
I readily agree, indeed I would insist, that the prime consideration in ANY adoption must be the well-being of the child or children in question. I do not think this change in legislation will have any material effect, in a practical sense, on this fundamental requirement when potential adoptive parents are being vetted. What it will do is help to ensure that as many children who need this facility may find homes with adoptive parents who can provide them with safe, secure and loving homes.