Scottish Forced Adoption Scandal: When Will Scotland Say Sorry?

Minister to meet campaigners calling for apology for forced adoption

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Written by Marion Scott, Chief Reporter at Scotland’s national newspaper The Sunday Post, June 16, 2021.

Scotland’s new children’s minister has said she will meet with campaigners calling for the Government to apologise to women who were forced to give up their babies for adoption.

Clare Haughey said she was “deeply saddened that in the past ”some mothers had felt “forced to give their children up”.

With campaigners calling on the Government to follow on from the example of countries such as Australia, Canada and Ireland, and apologise for the state’s role in this, Ms Haughey said she would meet members of the Movement for an Adoption Apology …

continue reading the full paper on The Sunday Post.

What Clare Haughey has said in Parliament – Historical Forced Adoption

Chamber meeting date: 16 June 2021

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I welcome you to your new position.

I thank Monica Lennon for bringing forward the debate, and I welcome the opportunity to make some closing remarks. In common with other members we have heard from during the debate, I am deeply saddened that, in the past, women felt forced to give up their children for adoption due to the prevailing moral and social norms of the time. The lives of the women, children and wider families who have been affected by the issue have been profoundly changed by the experience, and I offer my sincere sympathies for what they have endured. I thank the women for their commitment, courage and determination to come forward and have their voices heard. I do not for one minute underestimate how harrowing it is for them to revisit their experiences. Sadly, I am sure that doing so will have added to their pain.

The issue is complex and was influenced by many facets of society at the time. Those of us who have heard first-hand accounts or read research will have been moved, if not shocked, by the often heartbreaking experiences, such as mothers being prevented from seeing their baby during birth and birth mothers feeling pressurised into giving up their child.

The accounts that have been shared today have reiterated the terrible harm and long-lasting impact. The practices might well be historical, but the effect that they have had on the women is very real today. Sadly, we know from the numerous accounts of birth mothers’ experiences that they suffered widespread social censure, condemnation, prejudice and stigma. Thankfully, those practices and morals have no place in our society today.

Two weeks ago, the First Minister agreed to look at the matter properly, fully and quickly, and I am equally committed to doing so. Having reached out to the Movement for an Adoption Apology, I am delighted that it has accepted my invitation to meet next week. I am actively working to establish future meetings with others who have been affected by the historical practices. No voice speaks louder on any issue than the voice of lived experience, and the opportunity to have discussions directly with women who have suffered the trauma of separation and its lifelong effects is of paramount importance to me.

As members will know, I am fairly new to my role as the Minister for Children and Young People. However, I understand that the Movement for an Adoption Apology has campaigned for many years on the issue and has called on the UK Government to issue an apology.

I am acutely aware that the group recently reported that the adoption apology that the Republic of Ireland Government made earlier this year has “not been well received” and has?been “described as ‘political waffle’”. That is why it is so important for me to have direct discussion with those who have lived experience of adoption under these circumstances. It is right that we look at the issue properly, and for me that means listening to the voices of women, children and wider families whose lives have been profoundly changed by the experience. By doing that, we can work in partnership on the next steps.

I certainly give a commitment that I will speak to everyone who wants to raise their voice. We are looking at ways in which we can ensure that we have the widest range of voices to inform us of what the women and their children need and want.

The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 requires local authorities to provide those who have been affected by adoption with the support that they require. Adoption support services are available across the country. In certain areas,? that includes specialist agencies such as the Scottish adoption advice service, which is run by Barnardo’s, and Scottish Adoption. Those specialist agencies run extensive and well-established information, intermediary and counselling services, with provision available to local authorities.

The Scottish Government funds and works closely with the organisation Birthlink, which provides services to individuals and families who have been separated by adoption. That includes maintaining the adoption contact register for Scotland. If any women, adoptees or others who have been affected by the issues need support, their first step should be to contact their local authority adoption agency, which will be ready and willing to support anyone in that position.

Although those supports are in place, I recognise that they might not provide everything that those who are campaigning on the issue feel that they need. That is why it is critical for me to understand what really matters to the women and how they feel that they can best be supported, to ensure that they are treated with the sensitivity and respect that they richly deserve.

I will work really hard with the women and their families to find out exactly what they want, because there is no one voice in this. We have one shot at getting this right, so I want to get it right. I give Mr Sarwar a commitment that I will do my level best to assist in making the Parliament’s voice heard. I am mindful that, as Miles Briggs mentioned, the issue has had a huge impact on the children who were separated from their mothers all those years ago, so it is equally important that their voices and experiences are heard, too.?

Given the importance of the issue, I have written to the UK Government to discuss historical adoption practices, as I know that the matter is being discussed south of the border, as members have said.

Major shifts have occurred in adoption practice as well as across society as a whole. However, we are not complacent, and we know that more can be done. That is why, this year, the First Minister committed to implementing the findings of the independent care review’s promise. The promise recommends keeping families together where it is safe to do so, and says that families must be given support so that, together, they can overcome the challenges that are experienced in their lives. Where it is not possible for a child to remain with their birth family, it is crucial that all parties are given the appropriate support, including therapeutic support, as well as support through advocacy and engagement.

I would not want to single out any one of the powerful speeches that we have heard. Members have spoken eloquently about the experience that their constituents have brought to them. I say to every member who has participated that I have certainly heard their words and will take on board their considerations.

I once again reiterate my deepest sympathies to all those who have been affected by historical adoption practices in Scotland. Earlier, I referred to the bravery of the women who have made their voices heard. I am committed to listening to those women, to their children and to others who have been affected, and I am committed to working in partnership with them to explore our next steps.

Sources.

Related Tweets

A DES word, from Marion Scott, Investigative Journalist

Marion Scott image courteasy of democratonline, 2020.

I know many of those mums were given DES to suppress their breast milk and very little awareness has been raised on the effect this may have had on them and their future children.
I’m hoping to reach out to see if anyone is aware of this, and is willing to share info or an experience so we can shine a light on what was done to so many women and children, and the lasting effect.
My email is here and I’d very much like to hear from anyone if they can help give voice to this.

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