Children's Society objects to proposed changes in adoption law

 The Catholic Children's Society has expressed concern over government proposals to allow unmarried couples to adopt. Director Jim Richards said he supported the present law which allows married couple or single people to adopt, but he has concerns about the future. "All the well known child care charities support a change in the law to allow unmarried couples to adopt. The Catholic Children's Society (Westminster) is one of the few which opposes this view," he said. "The Government's own statistical information shows that half of all co-habitations last two years or less and that it is still very much a minority of families (12%) that are headed by a co-habiting couple. There is also clear evidence to suggest that the main reason women give for marrying, having co-habited, is to ensure the security of the children. Moreover, many co-habitees expect to marry in the future, why not wait therefore, until they do, before becoming adopters". Jim Richards also pointed out: "There is a failure to understand the true nature of co-habitation. Most people choose it because it is different from marriage. It is easier to walk out from, there is an appearance of freedom and far less commitment. Relatives of co-habiting couples sense this, which is why there is less financial and emotional support given by parents to their co-habiting children. "Marriage is a commitment given by two people, not just to each other, but to the community, that they want to stay together forever. That is why society backs marriage. The couple make a commitment and so do we to them in all sorts of different ways, not least, in terms of ensuring that the financial security of the children will be scrutinised by courts if things go wrong". He concluded: "In assessing co-habiting couples as adopters, social workers will have to check that the house is owned jointly and what arrangements will be made if they part, particularly, who expects to have custody of the children. The legal consequences of this are likely to be messy and confused. "The key thing about adoption is the total commitment required of the couple to the child. One of the best ways of judging whether a couple can do this is if they have made such a commitment to each other".