17.1 Adoption law and practice is complex and multi-layered. It has profound significance for those to whom it applies. Although adoption is no longer a common practice, it attracts enormous community interest, and widely divergent views about how it should operate.
17.2 The Commission was asked to consider the best interests of the child as paramount in decisions about adoption. Adoption has lifelong effects, so decision making must also consider the interests of the adopted person as an adult.
17.3 While the Commission accepts that adoption can provide permanency and stability to a child, it can also cause psychological and emotional harm to the child and their natural parents. There are also ongoing, intergenerational effects of changing a person’s identity and severing their legal relationship with their family.
17.4 In this report the Commission has tried to ensure that the voices of adopted people are heard. It has made recommendations to facilitate greater openness in the adoption process, while providing for appropriate protection for those who may be at risk of harm. It addresses parties’ need for professional and financial support, before and after the adoption.
17.5 The Commission expresses its appreciation of the substantial contribution to this report made by people with experience of, or affected by adoption; by organisations with responsibility for caring for vulnerable children; by adoption agencies and agencies that provide access to information about adoption, as well as professionals with specialist knowledge in adoption law and practice.
17.6 The Commission is pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to modernisation and reform of this significant area of law.
17.7 The Commission commends this report to you.