Forced adoption: Julie Morgan MS 'truly sorry' for 'appalling' forced adoptions in Wales

Forced adoption largely affected unmarried women and their children who were adopted without them having a meaningful choice. Credit: PA

A Welsh Government minister has made a personal apology to those affected by historical forced adoptions in Wales.

Julie Morgan MS said she was "truly sorry" that victims of forced adoption in the 1950, 60s and 70s had endured "such appalling historical practices."

Forced adoption largely affected unmarried women and their children who were adopted without them having a meaningful choice.

She said that, although forced adoption happened before Wales had its own government, she wanted to "put on record" her "profound sympathy" for victims.

An official apology by Government leaders was one of the recommendations of a recent report on forced adoptions. Credit: Welsh Government

According to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, unmarried women who became pregnant during 1950s, 60s and 70s often faced "secrecy and shame from the earliest stages."

Their children would often be forcibly placed for adoption, which the Committee says led to "life-long suffering" for many mothers and children.

Speaking at the Big Adoption Conversation event, Julie Morgan MS said: “Adoption has undergone some major reforms over the past 40 years, to put children at the forefront of decisions. The views of adopters and adopted children and young people are vital in helping us develop our policy, practices and legislation."

She continued: “We cannot change what has happened, but I can provide assurances that adoption legislation and practices have been significantly strengthened since and we will strive to provide as much support as we can.

“To all the victims, I would like to convey my deepest sympathy and regret that due to society failing you, you had to endure such appalling historical practices. For this I am truly sorry.”

The apology comes after the Joint Committee on Human Rights published its recommendations following an inquiry based on the experiences of unmarried women whose children were adopted between 1949 and 1976 in England and Wales. 

Although forced adoption practices "predate devolution in Wales," they have a "lasting legacy" on victims, said Julie Morgan MS. Credit: PA

Some of the recommendations included:

  • addressing the shortage of counsellors able to provide post-adoption support

  • exploring the options for alerting mothers (who wish to be so notified) to the death of a child that has been adopted.

  • monitoring and bringing about deadlines for local authorities to respond to requests for adoption records

  • putting in a system for a parent to pass on medical information that could be relevant to their child that is also data protection and privacy-compliant. This would allow adopted people to put in place plans for preventative medical care.

Julie Morgan continued: “I welcome the inquiry’s recommendations, which Welsh Government and the National Adoption Service are carefully considering to see what improvements can be made in Wales.

“I encourage anyone affected by forced adoption to contact The National Adoption Service which will be able to signpost individuals to other services including peer-support and advocacy groups, Welsh Government funded post-adoption support services, and other long-standing non-government service providers.”

In 2016, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England andWales, apologised for the role that the Catholic Church played in these adoption practices.

He acknowledged "the grief and pain" caused to victims, saying: “We apologise for the hurt caused by agencies acting in the name of the Catholic Church. Sadly for unmarried mothers, adoption was considered to be in the best interests of the mother and child because of the associated stigma and the lack of support for lone parents."

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