Commenting on statistics showing a continuing fall in adoption applications (see below), Mr McConnell highlighted the rewards of adoption for both children and parents:
'There are many vulnerable children in Scotland's care system who need a stable family environment. For too many years now there has been a declining number of adoption applications and less children are being placed with families. Modernising the system will help us change this.
'That is why I have set up a review of adoption practice in Scotland to break down the barriers to adoption. This should encourage more people to come forward as adopters and benefit from the personal rewards adoption can bring.'
1. Statistics published today show that there were just over 400 adoption applications in 2000. This is a decrease of 50 applications from the previous year.
2. Mr McConnell set up an adoption policy review to look at adoption law and practice in Scotland. The group, chaired by former sheriff principal Graham Cox, is made up of professionals along with adoptive parents and young people. They are due to report back to the Minister before the end of the year.
ADOPTION APPLICATIONS IN SCOTLAND - 2000
Statistics on the number of adoption applications in Scotland for the year 2000 have been published today by the Scottish Executive.
The main points are as follows:
There were just over 400 adoption applications for which an outcome was reached in 2000. This was about 50 fewer than in the previous year.
44 per cent of applications were for children aged under five at the time of application, compared with 37 per cent in 1999, when a higher percentage were in the 5-11 age-group. The average child was just over six and a half years old at the time of application.
Just over half of all applications were made without using an agency, while applications made through a local authority accounted for 36 per cent of the total. The proportion of applications made via a voluntary agency has increased in recent years, and now stands at 12 per cent.
In 2000, only 6 applications were not granted. This follows the trend of recent years when at least 95 per cent of adoption applications have been granted.
In half of all cases, both adopters were unrelated to the child, while most of the remainder involved the natural mother and step-father.
The number of applications for the making of freeing orders has risen from 70 in 1996 to 116 in 2000. In 2000, 97 per cent of freeing orders were granted, compared with 83 per cent in 1996.
1. Adoption applications are made to sheriff courts. The prospective adopters may or may not be related to the child concerned, and their application may be made through the local authority, via a voluntary agency or without using an agency. The application can have various outcomes - it may be withdrawn before the court hearing, it may be granted, it may be refused or the court may make a provisional or alternative order.
2. 'Freeing for adoption' was first introduced in the Children Act 1975 to enable parents who wish their child to be adopted to end their involvement in the adoption process at an early stage. When a child is 'freed', birth parents lose their responsibilities for the child and are not involved in any subsequent adoption proceedings.
3. The 49 sheriff courts in Scotland supply the Scottish executive with data on adoption applications and applications for freeing orders. The data provided do not identify individual children.
4. The tables are available here.