Welcome to another week.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights  (JCHR) has said it wants to listen to the experiences of mothers whose children were taken from them during the 1950s, 60s and early 70s – but has said it will also welcome anyone with “relevant lived experience,” leaving the door open for families who have experienced current forced adoption practices in Britain to attend.

Additionally, the committee said it would like to hear from people who were adopted, adoptive parents and social workers.

An estimated 250,000 women were forced to give up their babies during a period in the 20th century which spanned more than forty years in Britain because of a government policy which held that unmarried mothers were unfit to parent. The policy led to the forced removal and adoption of at least 500,000 babies in England and Wales between 1945 and 1975, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Current child protection policy in Britain still enables forced adoption (rather than consensual adoption), which allows the state to remove children from their families without parental consent, and is the predominant form of adoption in England and Wales. While parents no longer have their children removed from their care for being unmarried, some social work experts believe the vast majority of children today are removed from their parents for living under the poverty line and not because parents are wilfully neglecting or harming their children.

The impact of forced adoptions, whether recent or non-recent is the same, and is extremely damaging to both children and their parents, making the voices of children and families impacted by current forced adoption practices essential in any discussion about the issue.

Research has shown that forced adoption can have long-term psychological effects on children. These include complex and pathological grief, loss of identity and attachment issues, anxiety and attachment disorders, personality disorders, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A significant number of parents treat the removal much in the same way as they would the death of their child, mourning the loss over a lifetime. Research has shown that mothers are at heightened risk of suicide, and many parents report feeling numb and unable to live a normal life after experiencing forced adoption. Parents in Britain today also report feeling shame and a sense of judgment after a forced adoption, just as women from the 1950s, 60s and 70s reported to the committee.

The event, which will take place on 27 April, follows the publication of evidence by the committee which it says includes “a large number of personal testimonies from mothers who were separated from their children, and people who were separated from their mothers as babies.”

The report is part of the commission’s inquiry into the forced adoption of children of unmarried women between 1949 and 1976, which is looking specifically at whether the policy breached the right to family life, a human right enshrined in legislation by the UK.

The press release for the publication offers heartbreaking extracts of testimonies submitted to the committee. The testimonies in the release have been divided up into four headings:

  • How unmarried mothers were treated
  • Making decisions around adoption
  • Attempting to establish contact
  • Long-term impact

The roundtable will be held in Portcullis House in Westminster and hosted by JCHR chair Harriet Harman MP.

The committee is asking anyone who would like to attend to fill out this form which contains the following seven questions:

  • How would you describe your involvement in the adoption process?
  • Have you submitted evidence to this inquiry before (The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976)?
  • Which UK region/nation do you currently live in?
  • In which year did you go through the process of adoption?
  • Which UK region/nation did you live in when you went through the process of adoption?
  • Full name
  • Special requirements when attending the event

You can email selcomengagement@parliament.uk  to register to attend the event or to ask any questions about the roundtable.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to register their interest by 31 March 2022.

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