A Scottish Adoption Journey

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Nancy and Craig are very much like the many thousands around the world who arrive at the decision to adopt each year. Nancy is an Occupational Therapist and Craig is an artist, and ten years ago, their dreams of having a family took them to Social Services in pursuit of adopting a child or children... Social Services in Scotland, that is.

Basic Requirements

Regulations covering intercountry adoption have been enacted only recently in Scotland, and domestic adoption is the most widely practiced. Requirements for those seeking to adopt domestically include:
  • Minimum age of 21;
  • Couples must be age 40 or less at the time the application is considered;
  • Single persons and couples may adopt, but couples must be married;
  • A couple must be married at least three years before an application will be considered;
  • The family's home may either be owned or rented;
  • The family may have other children, biological and/or adopted;
  • Employment status should not affect suitability.

Scottish Adoption

Approximately 6,000 children are living in care.


Assessments are performed "by a legally required panel made up of social workers, adoptive families and psychologists. The panel reads social workers' homestudies of the prospective adoptive parents and recommends whether or not they will be approved to adopt."

Rena Phillips, Msc, CQSW, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, Scotland


Scottish adoptions are governed by the same law as England and Wales.

At age 18, adoptees are given free access to their adoption records.

The Process

From Nancy and Craig:

We contacted the social work department that specialises in adoption and fostering, and embarked on the assessment procedure. This was an intense process involving many aspects of parenting. Parenting classes and serious communication with all parties of the adoption triad were ongoing throughout this. Due to financial restraints our assessment took 3 years, but we believe it is now four months.

We felt that we were given great support and insight from the social work specialists and, indeed, have a library of world wide source material on adoption that has allowed us to really connect with our chosen path.

In Scotland there are almost no babies available for adoption which means that available children are older and can carry some serious history. We had no problem with this and, as part of the assessment procedure, looked at many different scenarios. [We would like to point out that our adoption practitioner was, as you would want, professional and intimate.]

Finally, the assessment was finished. After three years it was, as we are sure you can imagine, a relief to be deemed suitable people to adopt a child.

Within days, we were presented with the portfolio of a child who may be of interest to us. The brief was a complete social, medical, and familial history of a particular person.

He was nearly four and is now eleven and is our most beautiful son.

There are many emotional traumas our boy has to deal with from day to day but his history is his and we talk of it often.


Nancy, Craig, and Adam

For more information on adopting in Scotland:

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