The Church of Scotland (the Kirk) has cautiously welcomed proposals for unmarried and gay couples to adopt.

The Kirk was responding to the policies of the Scottish Executive that will overhaul the adoptions law in the country. Under the current legal system in Scotland, only one member of an unmarried gay or straight couple can legally be considered the adoptive parent of a child, with the other partner being granted only the right for the child to reside with them.

The Kirk, however urges caution in the wording of the bill, ensuring that it is the rights of the child, rather than the rights of a couple to adopt that is paramount.

In a statement they say “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.”

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The Kirk’s Church and Society Council 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.”

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