We were delighted to welcome the Scottish Adult Adoptee Movement (SAAM) to Adoption Week Scotland 2023. SAAM is a group of adult adoptees working to change the narrative around adoption and give a voice to adoptees in Scotland. Fiona Menzies-Henderson, from SAAM, explains why it’s so important to listen to adult adoptees and how working with AUK Scotland is an opportunity to share their lived experiences of adoption.

Why do SAAM want to be involved with Adoption Week Scotland this year?

Earlier this year, the former First Minister of Scotland gave a "sincere, heartfelt and unreserved" apology on behalf of the Scottish Government to all affected by the "living nightmare" of historical forced adoptions. The Scottish Adult Adoptee Movement felt much more of the story was still to be told and much more awareness was required on the lifelong rights and support required for those impacted by adoption and the scars of abuse within.

During this year’s Adoption Week Scotland, we arranged a two-day conference called Listen, It’s Lifelong. Day one followed the journey of historical research and experience from pre-legislation to current practice. Day two was an opportunity to hear from our peers in Australia sharing their experiences and journey 10 years on from the Australian National Apology. We also heard from campaigners who are raising awareness and supporting the rights and support for children of adversaries and those of institutional care.

Our team also felt passionately about holding a day for adoptees only: meeting other adoptees is a unique experience and one that we felt was really important. As a small grassroots campaign, we have been touched by Adoption UK supporting with a space to hold the Four Elements in-person day event.

What do you think is important about this year’s Adoption Week theme, Listening to and Supporting the Experience of Adoption in Scotland?

We hope what people take away from this event is not to presume to know adoption. To listen to those who have – for good and bad – lived the experiences, to learn how the impacts are lifelong and how best to support those who are affected, by showing dignity, respect and recognition. It helps to be informed, so the Scottish Adult Adoptee Movement team thought we could help in this area with our knowledge and lived expertise, as well as that of some of the friends we have made and voices of those desperately working forward for change.

What do you think we can achieve working together?

Adoption is one of the most controversial policies in our society, the answer to the suffering of children. We now know this not an answer or the end. Adoption UK Scotland took the time to listen to the Scottish Adult Adoptee Movement, showing empathy and understanding. We have been in adoption longer, it’s been in every step we have taken. AUK Scotland also continue to support good practice and do much for adopted families. I am personally keen to see future support for all blended families and, throughout communities, support for all care experienced and adopted people through childhood into adulthood as well as elderly years. If Scotland is to Keep The Promise I believe we all have to work together, but also being mindful of the autonomy of others.

Find out more about SAAM on their website. Click here.