Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Parents hit out at Edwin Poots over gay adoption ban

'Adoption law forced us to travel to England so we could fulfil our dreams'

New parents John Davis and Jason Scorer have hit out at Health Minister Edwin Poots
New parents John Davis and Jason Scorer have hit out at Health Minister Edwin Poots

A gay couple have hit out at Health Minister Edwin Poots for trying to bar homosexual couples from adopting after they had to go to England to complete the family of their dreams.

Project manager John Davis (45) tied the knot with his partner Jason Scorer (38) two years ago but they were told they could not adopt in Northern Ireland.

"The process to be assessed for adoption is exactly the same whether you are straight or gay, the problem we had was that we began to be assessed here in 2011 and the process is very slow," he explained.

"At that time we originally went to our local Trust. We had to wait nearly five months just to get an initial kick-off meeting. In June 2012, although we had already applied and already had the first part of our assessment, we were blocked.

"We were told the law had changed and we were no longer eligible to adopt in Northern Ireland."

John and Jason, who live in Co Antrim, then approached Parents and Children Together (PACT) and from there the process moved much more quickly.

"We went to see them in October last year and we were matched and placed with our children in April this year," he said.

"It was quick by the time we found an organisation that actually wanted to allow us to adopt."

John said adopting is a poignant lifelong wish for him because he was himself adopted.

He and Jason adopted two boys – aged four years and six years – in April.

"We have our hands full – it's all school runs, but this is what we signed up for and I wouldn't change it for the world," he said.

While John and Jason have now completed their family, they are aware of at least three other couples locally who are facing the same battle they faced.

John criticised Health Minister Edwin Poots for applying to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision that the ban was discriminatory.

Mr Poots has insisted the issue was about stability not sexuality.

"I think we should be cautious about changing the system which actually provides the stability those children need," he said.

"It is not a human right to adopt a child for either a mixed-sex couple or a same-sex couple."

John commented: "I just think it is nonsense. Surely the best interests of the children is that they are placed quickly with families who are able to give them a loving, caring, stable, secure environment and that's what we have been able to give our children. I know other couples who are desperate to do the same."

A spokesman for PACT told the Belfast Telegraph that it is currently helping three couples from Northern Ireland.

"Fundamentally, we believe that anyone who is suitable should be able to adopt, every child has a right to a family," he said.

"And in London and the southern counties of England, our feedback is just as good for gay and lesbian couples who have adopted as for heterosexual couples."

BACKGROUND

The Court of Appeal ruled that legislation which prevented gay, lesbian and unmarried couples from adopting children in Northern Ireland was unlawful.

However, Health Minister Edwin Poots plans to go to the Supreme Court to try to overturn that decision.

Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy claims he is "wasting taxpayers' money to fight a personal campaign".

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