The importance of the cultural identity of a child awaiting adoption, in terms of ‘race’, religion and ethnic background, is the subject of continuing debate, and often controversial and heated discussion. In the article, Tina Patel, Catherine Williams and Peter Marsh, sought to examine closely the public and legal perspectives of the debate, and in particular the degrees to which the two positions corresponded with each other. To do so, over 1200 questionnaires were used on a stratified sample of members of the general public throughout England and Wales, to gather data about public perceptions of adoption. The questionnaires were then analysed to see whether certain characteristics, for example, age, gender, religion, ethnic background and family environment, affected public views of the religious and cultural identity of a child in need of adoption. The data gathered from the questionnaires was also examined against the law on adoption, in order to ascertain whether there was any correspondence between the public’s views and the legal view. In the article, the authors present the findings from the study, along with a discussion of the relationship between the public perceptions and legal position on race, religion, identity and adoption.