The Scottish Parliament this week hosted a debate calling for an official apology for women who were historically forced to give up their babies for adoption. It is estimated that as many as 60,000 women in Scotland had their babies given up for adoption because they were unmarried.

While this happened in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Adoption UK in Scotland says it is necessary to acknowledge this today, and to apologise to those forced to give up their babies for the injustice they experienced. Formal apologies have been issued by governments in Ireland, Canada and Australia over historical instances of forced adoption. However, no such apology has been issued in Scotland.

Following the debate, tabled by Labour’s Monica Lennon, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “very committed” to considering the issue of forced adoption. Clare Haughey, minister for children and young people, is set to hold meetings with the Movement for an Adoption Apology in the coming weeks.

Fiona Aitken, Adoption UK's Director of Scotland, said: “These stories are difficult to listen to due to their tragic nature – but we must listen, and learn from them today. These women deserve to have their experiences heard, and an apology is required.”

Today, adoption should usually only take place when it is not safe for a child to stay within their birth family. Over 70% of adoptions take place when a child has experienced abuse, neglect or trauma. Adoption can offer a safe family environment to support their development and chance to overcome their early experiences.

Fiona added: “We must also acknowledge the impact that this narrative will have for the children, now adults, who were affected by this practice. This story is also impactful for today’s adoptees, who must manage their loss and that of their birth families as part of their adopted identity. There is a lack of support available for these individuals, and we would like this to change.”

If you are an adopted adult in Scotland, our Adopted Adults group provides a safe space to talk to other adopted people about any issues which affect you. For details about the group, please contact [email protected] or call us on 0300 666 0006, 10am-2.30pm Monday-Friday.

For more information see the Movement for an Adoption Apology.