A LEADING Glasgow family lawyer says changing the law to allow adults to be adopted could be beneficial and is achievable as campaigners step up their fight.

It comes as the man behind the move said he had been contacted by supporters from north and south of the Border and internationally.

Nathan Sparling, 27, hopes to be adopted by his stepfather, but at present that cannot happen as Scots adoption law currently excludes anyone over the age of 18.

However, he believes his stepfather Brian, who has been involved in his upbringing since he was 13, should be able to become his adoptive father.

Lynsey Brown, a solicitor and family law expert with Harper Macleod in Glasgow, said the proposal was worthy of consideration. “The numbers involved are not

negligible. I’ve had enquiries from several

adults who were asking about being adopted,” she said.

“The underlying ethos of adoption law is to safeguard a child’s welfare – not only through childhood, but their whole life.

“So although I’m not certain the proposed changes would be as straightforward as amending a few words of the 2007 act, neither is it unrealisable or unachievable.”

The campaign launched by Mr Sparling is calling for changes to the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act of 2007, and says other countries already allow someone who has fulfilled the role of parent to adopt their child after they turn 18.

Ms Brown said safeguards would need to be put in place to prevent abuse of any change to the law.

She said: “The campaign needs to clarify whether it envisages this being limited to people who have been involved in someone’s upbringing in childhood. Or could it include step-parents who only come into someone’s life in adulthood? Also, what safeguards are they proposing to put in place to prevent misuse of any law change?”

However, she said some of the existing rules would be easily adaptable. “If a child who is being adopted is over 12, they have to consent to being adopted, and that would plainly be required of adults seeking to be adopted, too.”

The campaign has argued there are various reasons why people might want to be adopted as an adult, including the transfer of inheritance rights, someone who has been adopted previously choosing to restore the relationship with their biological parents, or formalising the relationship between step-children and step-parents.

Ms Brown added: “Inheritance planning wouldn’t necessarily count as misuse, as long as it doesn’t stray too far from the ethos of adoption as it stands – which is to promote the welfare of the person who is being adopted. There may be reasons of family dynamics that might make it necessary, but any issues about inheritance might be better dealt with by making a will.”

Mr Sparling said he accepted this, and also the need for rules. “In Germany you have to have been living with the person from the age of 14 until you reach adulthood,” he said.

“However there is a limited need for additional safeguards when you are talking about a process that is already very formal.

“This is not just a question of signing a declaration. It involves lawyers and going to court and the process itself is arguably safeguard enough. For most people this isn’t about the legal elements, it is just about that sense of belonging to a family.

“I’ve had a lot of interest in this from people in the UK and some people getting in touch from overseas saying they can’t believe this isn’t already allowed.” he said.

He is now to meet with MSPs Miles Briggs and Ben Macpherson to discuss his proposal. The Scottish Government has also said it will examine the plan.