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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 16:37 GMT
Kirk backs same-sex adoption move
The number of children being adopted has fallen
The Church of Scotland has backed proposals to allow unmarried and same-sex couples to adopt.

Its church and society council said some within the Kirk felt the Scottish Executive reform undermined marriage.

In its formal response, the church said the child's best interests had to be paramount and stressed that marriage provided the most stable environment.

But it said the system was not meeting youngsters' needs and that, on balance, it supported the proposed law change.

The executive unveiled its plans for a radical overhaul of Scotland's adoption and fostering legislation in June.

Separate rights

The proposals would allow unmarried and same-sex couples to adopt together if they could prove they were in an enduring family relationship.

Under the current system only one member of an unmarried couple can adopt, while the other has separate rights to live in the same house as the child.

The number of children being adopted each year has fallen by more than half over the last 20 years.

The needs of the many vulnerable children currently in care are very urgent and we are encouraged that some steps are being taken to meet those needs through these proposals
Morag Mylne
Church and society council convener

The proposals have been welcomed by gay rights groups but condemned by the Catholic Church.

Scotland's most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, warned last month that youngsters would be guinea pigs in a "distorted social experiment".

In its response to the proposals, the Church of Scotland said the focus had to be on the most vulnerable children, who were not currently finding families.

'Honest' approach

The Kirk said the current law was turning a "blind eye" to same-sex adoption and argued that a "more honest" approach may help more children.

"While we do not believe that the status of the relationship between adult potential adopters should be an absolute bar to them adopting jointly, we would hope that there would be explicit recognition that no 'right to adopt' is created by the bill," said the church.

It said it was appropriate that the stability and enduring nature of the relationship were part of a robust selection process.

Child being baptised
The church favours "strong, secure relationships"

The church said it had a role to play in encouraging more people to become adoptive parents or foster carers.

However, it said the executive needed to take action to persuade more people to come forward and government ministers should put resources into supporting efforts to help keep families together.

The council's convener, Morag Mylne, said: "We welcome and support the emphasis on the best interests of the child.

"Those interests are served in strong and secure relationships and the love and stability that adoptive parents and foster parents can give to children is invaluable.

"The needs of the many vulnerable children currently in care are very urgent and we are encouraged that some steps are being taken to meet those needs through these proposals."

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