3.3 Eligibility to Adopt with Specific Reference to Marriage

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am ar 21 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

3.3.1 We note and very much agree with the provision in Clauses 47 to 49, that only married couples or single persons may apply to adopt.

3.3.2 It is argued that there are many unmarried couples who would wish to adopt and who would be able to provide a good home for a child who are barred because they have chosen not to marry.

3.3.3 This position ignores a basic and crucial aspect of adoption. For adoption to succeed there needs to be a total lifelong and public commitment of love and care. If this is our expectation of adopters then it needs to be reflected in their own commitment to each other.

3.3.4 We also need to recognise that adoption is created by the state, where its agencies, namely adoption services and the courts, approve a particular couple to care for a child as if it were their own, with all others who may have had a claim, having that claim extinguished. The state therefore is creating a family.

3.3.5 If the reported moves to allow co-habiting couples to adopt are successful, we will be in danger of allowing what may seem, at first sight, to be an individual good, to be something that harms what is recognised as a universal good, that is marriage. If this institution is undermined, as it would if co-habitees could adopt, it would make matters worse for many more children.

3.3.6 All too often co-habitation is seen as being on an equal footing with marriage. This is clearly not so, as is revealed by the available research, and although this research is not directly about adoption it does have relevance to this aspect of the debate. The two conditions are qualitatively different. With marriage, the couple make a life long public commitment to love and care for each other and their children. This does not exist in co-habitation which can lead to a one generational arrangement without the clear kinship links created by marriage. Such kinship links and the social bonds created give rise to social values.

3.3.7 Co-habitation also has a far higher breakdown rate than marriage, with less than 4 per cent lasting ten years or more. 70 per cent of those children born to married parents, will live with them throughout their childhood, in contrast to the 36 per cent of those born to those who co-habit. Married couples are more secure, one with the other.

3.3.8 Financial and emotional help to married couples and their children is at a greater level than in co-habiting unions.

3.3.9 Co-habitee fathers, when separated, are less likely than divorced partners to financially support the children.

3.3.10 The institution of marriage gives structure, a framework for decision making and a sense of meaning. In co-habitation, rules have to be created in a situation where there are no agreed societal norms. The lack of socially approved ground rules is a recipe for ambiguity and ambivalence.

3.3.11 There is even evidence which indicates that married mothers have more meals with their children, read to them more and have more outside activities with them, than co-habiting mothers.

3.3.12 There are also legal aspects of co-habitation to do with property and therefore the security of the child, should the co-habitation cease, that are less clear than in marriage.