• The Adoption and Children Act 2002 legalised joint adoption by cohabiting heterosexual and homosexual couples in England and Wales. The Act came into force on 30 December 2005.
  • The 2002 Act replaced the 1976 Adoption Act, which allowed joint adoption only by a married couple. The 1976 Act also allowed single people to adopt.
  • Before the 2002 Act was passed, some 95 per cent of all adoptions were by married couples; the remaining five per cent were by single persons.1
  • By 2013, 77 per cent of adoptions in England were by married opposite-sex couples. In the same year, six per cent were by same-sex couples, compared to three per cent in 2009.2
  • The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 legalised joint adoption by cohabiting heterosexual and homosexual couples in Scotland.
  • Following a successful legal challenge from a Northern Ireland human rights quango in 2011, successive court rulings have stated that the Province must allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
  • Since 2007 equality laws have forced all the Roman Catholic adoption agencies in England to either close or abandon their religious ethos in order to continue.3

Biblical arguments

Adoption by cohabiting heterosexual couples and homosexual couples is radically opposed to the Judeo-Christian family ethic which views marriage as the only right context for sexual relations and the procreation of children.

The book of Genesis states: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”4

Parenthood is male and female. Children need male and female role models. The fifth of the Ten Commandments enshrines this.5

In Christian understanding, children are not possessions but a gift from God. There is no ‘right’ to have children. To “Be fruitful and multiply”(KJV)6 is the normal expectation of marriage, though it is recognised that not all married couples can have children. Having children is one of the three purposes of marriage universally recognised across the Christian Churches.7

Procreation is tied to marriage. Children are not to be spawned in random relations, but begotten in arrangements in which their parents are bound to their offspring by the ties of law as well as nature. The intention is for parents to be as committed to the nurture of their children as they are to each other as husband and wife.

Marriage is best for raising children

Same-sex adoption deliberately and permanently deprives a child of a mother or a father figure. This is wrong. Children need both complementary role models.

The Government’s Social Justice strategy paper said in March 2012:

“Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study shows that around one in ten married parents split before a child’s fifth birthday, compared to one in three cohabiting couples. Given that married relationships tend to have greater longevity and stability than other forms, this Government believes marriage often provides an excellent environment in which to bring up children. So the Government is clear that marriage should be supported and encouraged.”8

Children living with single parents are more likely to have been suspended from school than children living with continuously married parents.9

In 2009/10, children in cohabiting families living in the UK were 1.5 times more likely to be living in poverty than children in married families after housing costs were considered. Children living in lone parent families were more than twice as likely to be living in poverty as children in married homes.10

Key points

  • The Government’s justification for changing adoption law was to increase adoptions of children in care. The Government argued there were not enough married couples adopting and changing the law would ‘widen the pool’ of available adopters.
  • This argument was a red herring. The problem was never a lack of married couples wanting to adopt, but bureaucracy and political correctness which deterred and prevented many married couples from doing so. There continue to be reports of married couples being rejected or delayed in adoption or fostering for being overweight, smoking, being members of a mainstream political party, being too tidy, or for their Christian beliefs, especially for believing in traditional marriage.11
  • The real agenda for changing the law was to legitimise and normalise cohabitation and homosexuality – to use ‘children as trophies’.

The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, when Home Secretary, is reported to have said on the Today programme in 1998:

“I’m not in favour of gay couples seeking to adopt children because I question whether that is the right start in life. We should not see children as trophies. Children, in my judgement, and I think it’s the judgement of almost everyone including single parents, are best brought up where you have two natural parents in a stable relationship. There is no question about that. What we know from the evidence is that, generally speaking, that stability is more likely to occur where the parents are married than where they are not”.12

  1. 1For example, Surveying Adoption: A comprehensive analysis of local authority adoptions 1998-1999 (England), BAAF, 2000, page 88
  2. 2Statistical First Release: Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2013, SFR 36/2013, ONS/Department for Education, 26 September 2013, Table E3
  3. 3The Daily Telegraph, 19 August 2010
  4. 4Genesis 2:24
  5. 5Exodus 20:12
  6. 6Genesis 1:28
  7. 7The others being: the mutual society, help and comfort of man and wife; and as a remedy against sin. This is outlined in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, but is also recognised in The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 24 and in the Roman Catholic Church, see Neuner, J, and Dupuis, J (Eds) The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, Collins, 1983, page 526.
  8. 8Social Justice: transforming lives, Department for Work and Pensions, March 2012, page 16, para. 48, citing Kiernan and Mensah Partnership trajectories, parent and child wellbeing in Hansen, Joshi and Dex, Children of the 21st Century Volume 2: the first five years, 2010
  9. 9Amato, P R, ‘The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation’, The Future of Children, 15(2), 2005, page 86
  10. 10Households Below Average Income: An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2009/10, ONS/Department for Work and Pensions, May 2011, page 13. Figures for ‘married families’ include children living in families headed by a couple in a civil partnership.
  11. 11See for example, Daily Mail, 13 January 2009; The Mail on Sunday, 22 February 2015; The Times, 26 November 2012, MailOnline, 28 May 2014, see as at 12 May 2015 and ‘Legal Defence Fund’, The Christian Institute, March 2015
  12. 12The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP quoted in House of Lords, Hansard, 16 October 2002, cols 870 and 885