Updates – 2021

Update – 14 December, 2021

Following years of campaigning, we can now confirm that the Parliamentary inquiry:
The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949 – 1976will commence tomorrow, Wednesday 15th December 2021. 

Over 300 people submitted written evidence during the information gathering phase and much of the data that has been collected is still being analysed.

As we understand it, tomorrow’s session will comprise several experts giving oral evidence to the Committee.  The BBC are holding a Zoom call for some of those affected by these issues. The oral evidence will be broadcast on www.parliamentlive.tv/Guide at 3.00.pm.

A piece covering the inquiry so far will be broadcast on the BBC 6 o’clock News.

The inquiry will be suspended over the holiday period. When it resumes it is likely to focus on evidence submitted thus far.  We have yet to hear about whether any of us will be called to provide oral accounts of our experiences.

As soon as we receive more information , we’ll send out another update.

Update – 23 September, 2021

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has announced that it will hold a new inquiry:

The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976 

Inquiry page details: The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976 

Find out how to submit evidence here 

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched a new inquiry to understand the experiences of unmarried women whose children were adopted between 1949 and 1976. The inquiry will examine whether adoption processes respected the human rights, as we understand them now, of the mothers and children who experienced them, as well as the lasting consequences on their lives. 

The inquiry will cover a range of practices that led to the children of unmarried mothers being adopted. The scope of the inquiry will specifically cover issues arising from cases which took place during the time period between the Adoption of Children Act 1949 and the Adoption Act 1976.

Launching the inquiry, Committee Chair Harriet Harman QC MP said: 

“Everyone has the right to family life. The Joint Committee on Human Rights will look at whether the right to family life of young unmarried mothers and their children was respected in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. We have launched this inquiry to understand the realities of what the adoption process was like at that time and hear the experiences of those who went through it. 

“The adoptions took place decades ago, but the pain and suffering remains today.” 

Terms of reference 

The Joint Committee on Human Rights invites submissions on the following questions by 28 October. Find out more about how to submit evidence here

  • Was the right to family life of unmarried mothers and their children, as we understand it now, respected at the time;
  • How the experience of being adopted, or having a child who was adopted between 1949 and 1976 impacted on the family life of the unmarried mother, child and others;  
  • How social practices at the time contributed to unmarried women not being able to keep their babies and what if any, other reasons contributed to women feeling compelled to have their babies adopted; 
  • What, if any, information and support were provided to expectant mothers to help them make decisions or to enable them to keep their baby;  
  • The role played by legal consent of the parents in any adoption, how consent was given, what effect it had on children whose parents did not consent and how the standards of consent have changed since the 1950s; and 
  • How the lack of recognition of the impact of adoption practices between 1949 and 1976 has affected those whose child was adopted or who were adopted as a child during this time.

Notes to editors

The inquiry will examine historic adoption practices in England and Wales.

The inquiry will not examine current adoption practices.

Media enquiries to George Perry: perryg@parliament.uk / 07834 172 099   

Committee membership:       

Website: http://www.parliament.uk/jchr     

Ms Harriet Harman MP (Chair) (Labour),  Joanna Cherry MP (SNP),    Florence Eshalomi MP (Labour),  
Angela Richardson MP Conservative),   Dean Russell MP (Conservative),    David Simmonds MP (Conservative),      Lord Brabazon of Tara (Conservative),      Lord Dubs (Labour),      Baroness Ludford (Liberal Democrat),     Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour),     Lord Singh of Wimbledon (Crossbench),      Lord Henley (Conservative)      

Email: jchr@parliament.uk     

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:  www.parliamentlive.tv     

George Perry
Senior Media Officer, Select Committees
Home Affairs | Human Rights | Justice
+44 (0)20 7219 8430 | +44 (0)7834 172 099
Text relay: 18001 020 7219 8430
House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA 

Update 25 June 2021

It is a month since we wrote to the Prime Minister and our letter was handed in at No. 10.
We have yet to receive a reply.

By way of contrast, a Parliamentary Debate took place in Scottish Parliament, during which immense compassion was shown for everyone affected by these issues. The Scottish arm of the campaign is being received sympathetically by those in power there. More details on our MAA Scotland page.

Update 29 May 2021

More encouraging news from the MAA Committee!
It is surprising what can be achieved in less than a week following the Duncan Kennedy reports on BBC News.
Harriet Harman MP Chair of The Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to look into the matter of Forced Adoptions.

An Early Day Motion has already been tabled: 
Apology for Forced Adoption – Early Day Motions – UK Parliament
Please write to your MP requesting that they give it their full support and sign it.

The Duncan Kennedy documentary about adoptions is being aired on BBC News Channel at 1.30.pm and 8.30pm on Saturday 29th May, and again at 4.30pm on Sunday 30th May. The full 30 minute version is available on BBC iPlayer.
A shorter version can be watched by clicking below. It can also be watched on YouTube.

Thanks to all those people who have helped to make this happen.

Update 25 May 2021

To all our wonderful Supporters –
Good news at last from the MAA committee

Today a letter from the Movement for an Adoption Apology (MAA) was delivered by David Amess MP to Boris Johnson, Prime Minister asking for an apology for historical adoption practices.

[As was given in Australia by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2013 in the Australian Senate]   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hVbokTpYeg.  A really wonderful speech!

There will be a news item today about this letter and our campaign on the BBC1 Evening News at 6pm from Duncan Kennedy, a BBC journalist.  Another item from him about adopted adults will be aired on Wednesday during the day on the BBC News Channel 

Since February Duncan has interviewed  a number of birth mothers and adopted adults. He has made a documentary about them all to be aired on the BBC News Channel and BBC iPlayer on Saturday 29th .

All this has happened because despite letters to MPs, a Debate in Parliament in 2018 etc. etc. it has been very difficult to get a response from Parliament.

We have been in touch with Duncan for a number of years and value his determination to make our issue public. He was in Australia when the Prime Minister apologised and made a documentary.
Transcript BBC News Pain of Australia Forced Adoption Policy.pdf (acu.edu.au)

May 2021

As part of our Campaign, we conducted UK-wide Adoption Survey. Thank you to everyone who took part.

January 2021 – Update

Though our UK campaign has stalled, partly as a result of the current political turmoil, and partly because the MPs who stepped forward following the debate have done nothing to help us get justice, in Ireland the story is different.

With the publication of the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes on 30 October 2020, the extent of the difficulties, prejudice and injustices faced by unmarried mothers in Ireland has been exposed. The horrors which took place in Bessborough and Tuam, to name but two, have been revealed. Stories are now coming out of babies being sold, and of the appalling suffering endured by mothers and their children.

“Babies died by the thousands in these hellholes directly as a result of the early state’s policy of semi-official discrimination against single mothers and their babies.”
“Where is their truth and justice?” 

In the wake of the Report, calls have been made for an Independent Investigation into NI Mother and Baby Homes (see video at 4.5 minutes). As reported by the BBC, First Minister, Arlene Foster, has said that a report is “an important first step towards a full understanding of what happened to thousands of women and their children in our recent past.” The many deaths, the cruelty, the coercion, the dishonesty and the trafficking of babies are among the issues that need to be addressed in any investigation.

Though there have been apologies from both the Taoiseach and Tanaiste, their words have not been well received and have been described as ‘political waffle’, something with which are are all too familiar in our own fight to be heard in the UK.

We have also been told that it was the fault of ‘society’, and it has been suggested that ‘everyone is to blame’, which is little more than an effort to avoid stepping up in the face of a difficult situation. As we watch the events unfolding in Ireland, we look to our own representatives in Parliament to set up an investigation, or an inquiry, here.

What happened in Ireland was horrific.
What took place in the UK, was only a few steps behind.