UK Parliament At Westminster Investigates Forced Adoption, Calling For Mothers To Share Their Stories

·4 min read
Photo credit: kieferpix - Getty Images
Photo credit: kieferpix - Getty Images

It has been reported that around 60,000 mothers in Scotland were pushed to have their babies adopted because they were not married.

And from the 1950s up until the 1970s, many women who were pressured into giving up their babies – up to 250,000 in the UK – weren't permitted housing and social benefits, which could have allowed them to avoid adoption.

After Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin last year addressed the treatment of former residents at mother and baby homes over many decades, Labour MP for Scottish parliament, Monica Lennon, called for the nation to apologise for forced adoption.

As for now, the UK parliament at Westminster has spearheaded its own investigation into forced adoptions.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights started gathering evidence before of Christmas, and it's set to report on the findings later this year.

Furthermore, Scottish ministers are asking women to share their stories via an online questionnaire that has now launched.

While a formal apology hasn't been issued by the Scottish government, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was said to be considering the issue of forced adoption, the survey is intended to allow women to share 'views and insight', as a way of helping the support process, the BBC reports.

Of the survey, Lennon highlighted to the news outlet that results would tell the Government what women have been expressing for years.

Supporting the initiative is a helpline that's been introduced by mental health charity Health in Mind.

The charity's staff are experienced in dealing with trauma.

Photo credit: Ángel Uriel Gutierrez Cofre / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ángel Uriel Gutierrez Cofre / EyeEm - Getty Images

Lisa Rolland, who became pregnant at 16 while living in Edinburgh in 1982 told the BBC about being pressured into giving up her newborn son after having spent only three days with him.

Still a schoolgirl and unmarried, Rolland recalled feeling 'so shamed' after her GP reacted to her pregnancy by saying: 'Who's been a silly girl then?'

'I didn't choose adoption, it was presented to me as the only available option,' she said.

'There was an implication that I wouldn't be able to have a career, it might ruin my life.'

Explaining the saddening moment her baby was taken, she recalled: 'I handed him over and then I went into the toilets and cried for about two hours. It was just dreadful.'

She continued: 'I just felt this massive pain and hole and grief, and just empty really.'

Lisa, who reunited with her son about 10 years ago, and with whom she had a 'wonderful relationship', sadly lost him after he died in a car accident.

'At that time the grief was so hard,' she said.

'It made me realise that I'd never grieved the baby, I'd kept all of that inside.

'I felt such shame and guilt that I hadn't fought for him. Would I have been such a bad mother?'

Children's Minister Clare Haughey has said that forced adoption needs to be looked at properly.

'Listening to these voices will help us to understand what support and action is needed. The last thing I want to do is to ask those affected to revisit the trauma it caused them, but, if they feel able, I would encourage them to give their views and share their experiences,' she explained.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Speaking of the 'long overdue' apology that's needed for women who have suffered 'a lifetime of grief and guilt', Lennon has said of First Minister Sturgeon: 'Hearing 'we are sorry' from the first minister will help to end the stigma and begin to heal the burden of shame that the women have carried for decades.

'Nicola Sturgeon was not to blame for this historic injustice but the gift of an apology is in her hands and she should do the right thing.'

This comes after a report from The Guardian highlighted that of the yearly 3,500 adoptions, a staggering 90% are against the will of the birth family.

For more information, visit the UK parliament page here.

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