Bishops' statements on the Adoption and Childrens bill

 As the parliamentary debate continues over proposed changes in the adoption laws, the Rt Rev Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Birmingham, and Bishop Howard Tripp, Episcopal President of the Catholic Child Welfare Council, have issued the following statements: Archbishop Nichols said: The current debate has, I understand, the overall aim of making adoption more possible, especially for children who suffer from the disturbing effects of instability or mistreatment in their earliest years. The present debate must centre on the good of the child. This, and this alone, should be the principle which shapes any change in law or practice. Stability and permanence of loving care are most important to the well-being of the child. Such stability is best underpinned by marriage. If a couple are willing to give a public and life-long commitment to a child in adoption why are they not also willing to give a public and life-long commitment to each other in marriage? The role modelling of parents is also crucial to the well-being of a child. For this reason a child's well-being is best provided when there are both mother and father in the family. The present discussion risks giving priority to other considerations. The adoption of a child must never be used as a way of giving greater public recognition to the variety of partnerships, in which adults choose to live. Bishop Howard Tripp commented: I fully support the government's objective to increase the number of children who have the opportunity, through adoption, to grow up as part of a loving, stable and permanent family. Whereas the law at present allows only married couples or single people (who may or may not be in a stable relationship) to adopt, the question has arisen whether this objective is assisted by the amendment to the Bill which would allow unmarried couples, including couples of the same sex, jointly to adopt. I believe that the best environment for bringing up a child is in a stable, permanent and loving married relationship, and that this should be recognised as the ideal. It is within this loving and secure environment that the child's needs for life, growth and development are best met. It is also in the best interests of children to have a father and a mother because their different genders provide for a child's needs in a complementary way and provide appropriate role models. Consequently, I do not believe that a child's best interests are likely to be served by two people living in a same sex relationship. I recognise that in this imperfect and broken world the ideal is not always possible, and if it cannot be achieved, then adoption by a single individual could well be in the best interests of the child. Parliament cannot legislate for each individual case and it is right that it should trust, support and free adoption panels and the Courts to make and authorise arrangements best suited to the interests of each individual child. I am confident that adoption into a family that matches the ideal will prove, in the great majority of cases, to be in the best interests of the child. For this reason I would urge the government and social services to do more to encourage married couples to consider adoption.

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