Adoption Policy Review Group: phase one report

Report on phase one of a two-phase review to look at adoption law and practice, commissioned in April 2001.


  1. Scottish Ministers attach a high priority to improving the life chances of children 'looked after' by local authorities and would wish to achieve a stable family placement for all children who might benefit from this. Adoption is one means of achieving a stable family placement. The number of adoption applications in Scotland, by persons unrelated to the adoptee, has been relatively stable over the past 5 years, but there were 29 fewer such applications for which an outcome was reached in 2000 compared to 1999. To address questions surrounding the place of adoption in securing permanence for 'looked after' children, the Minister for Education, set up a review group under the convenorship of Graham Cox, formerly Sheriff Principal of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway. The group included representatives from local authorities, legal and court interests, specialist adoption agencies, the Children's Hearings system and independent experts. Adoptive parents and young adults who have been through the adoption process were also members of the group. Full group membership is shown in Annex 2.
  2. Group Remit

  3. The group's remit for this phase of the review was:
  • the place of adoption services within the spectrum of services considered for children and young people looked after by authorities
  • the recruitment, selection and assessment of prospective adopters
  • the provision of post-adoption support for families
  • the case for Scotland joining the proposed UK National Adoption Register
  1. The scope of phase 2 of the review is set out in paragraphs 33 and 34. It will examine the broad issues of the rights of birth parents; arrangements for contact; timescales within court procedures; the role of Children's Hearings and legal processes relating to adoption and fostering.
  2. Working Methods

  3. The review group met 9 times. Sub-groups were also set up to deal in more depth with complex issues. The sub-groups looked at research and statistical information; the case for a national adoption register; methods of assessing children's needs; recruitment issues including consideration of sharing of resources amongst authorities; revision and adaptation of national standards to suit Scottish needs; and an examination of post-adoption services. Membership of the sub-groups is shown in Annex 3. Graham Cox also heard views from three members of the general public who, having written to either the Minister or the Department, accepted his invitation to discuss relevant issues with him.
  4. The group felt it would be beneficial to share its emerging conclusions with other key stakeholders. A workshop covering the 4 areas of the remit took place in Glasgow on 21 November. Invitations to attend were issued to relevant individuals and organisations. Those who attended the workshop are listed in Annex 4.
  5. Annex 1 to this Report sets out a brief summary of the current adoption process. The process can be complex and the experts on the group found it constructive to bring all the factual material together in one place. Each chapter in the report covers one aspect of the remit. There is also a Glossary of terms in Annex 11.
Back to top