A Manchester MP, John Leech, tabled this Early Day Motion (EDM 92) in support of our campaign in May this year. So far 82 MPs have signed it. EDM 92 That this House recognises the suffering that forced child adoptions during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s caused, which took place due to social pressures on women who had children outside of marriage; notes the unacceptable adoption and care practices of the past, such as not giving information about welfare services including housing and financial help which were available at the time and not questioning whether women putting their children up for adoption had given informed consent; further recognises the negligence of previous Governments, with regard to ensuring that the care provided for unmarried mothers was appropriate and that they and their children were not mistreated or discriminated against, resulting in many women suffering traumatising pre and post-natal experiences and children being denied contact with their birth parents; and calls on the Government to apologise in order to go some way toward helping the parents and children who were victims of these practices. I am a birth mother but also a retired social worker—ie I gave up a child for adoption many years ago, because I was not married. I was actually a social worker at the time—so yes, I should have known better…but! However, I am one of the lucky ones who went on to have more children. But many ended up too traumatised to do so, through grief, guilt and shame. So I am now involved in this campaign called MAA (www.movementforanadoptionapology.org) to try and bring all this out in the open and help women come to terms with what happened in those days, by seeking a cross-party Parliamentary Apology (see many more details under ‘forced adoptions’). This has already happened in Australia, whose campaign has inspired us. Last October we wrote to 586 MPs who have not yet signed, asking them to do so. But many MPs have ignored us and all MPs are more likely to answer requests from their own constituents than from anyone else.
If you are interested in helping our campaign , please write to your own MP, saying something like this: ‘I am writing to seek your support for a campaign which was started by a few women in 2010, to seek acknowledgement for the wrong done to thousands of women who were pressurised to give up their children for adoption in the years from the fifties right up until the 80s, simply because they were not married. As you may be aware, this situation, while totally usual nowadays, often led to women being thrown out of their homes by shocked parents. The only people they could turn to, the social workers employed both by the state and religious organisations, were rarely likely to offer any substantial assistance , such as information about the housing and benefits which would have been available to them even at that time. Instead the unmarried mothers were pressured, some would say forced, to accept the only solution which seemed to be left to them ie to give up their child for adoption, which typically left them with lasting grief. The campaign now seeks a Parliamentary apology for these wrongs, and so I hope that you will consider signing the Early Day Motion 92 about this issue. If you are unable to sign an EDM because you are a minister or shadow minister, please send a letter of support instead, either to Michael Gove or Edward Timpson.’
If you don’t feel like writing to your MPs , please at least have a look at the MAA web-site (www.movementforanadoptionapoloogy.org) and also many web-sites which you will find under the heading ‘forced adoptions’. The information on these may surprise and shock you. Finally, why am I now a member of SWAN? Well, first of all because the London members of SWAN gave me a hearing when I came to talk to them about our campaign, and have been extremely supportive towards us. But more importantly, because, as a retired social worker , I hate to see what is happening to families at the present moment, with many mothers failing to find enough support at the right time to enable them to look after their own children, while more and more money is being invested in the new industry of adoption placement–yes I would call it an industry, because like so many other functions of social work it is being increasingly privatised. So the nightmare of people losing their children when they should be able to keep them is not over. And don’t forget, adoption is not always a happy ever after story for the children either, as my friends and myself have learned all too often from our own children, when we do manage to find out what has happened to them.
Jean Robertson-Molloy 30-1-13
To get in touch with MAA, please e-mail MAANPN@gmail.com