“No words can ever make up for what has happened to you” Scotland Apologises For Forced Adoptions

For three decades till the 1970’s thousands of women were forced to give up their babies for adoption. Yesterday. 22nd of March, Nicola Sturgeon, FM of Scotland, formally apologised to those women for the historical wrong which had been done to them.

Head shot of Nicola Sturgeon

Addressing the Scottish Parliament , the First Minister said:

“To the mothers who had their babies taken away from them; to the sons and the daughters who were separated from their parents; to the fathers who were denied their rights, and to the families who have lived with the legacy;

“For the decades of pain that you have suffered, I offer today a sincere, heartfelt and unreserved apology. We are sorry.

“No words can ever make up for what has happened to you, but I hope this apology will bring you some measure of solace.

“It is the very least that you deserve – and it is long overdue.”

Adoption UK Scotland welcomed the apology. Fiona Aitken, Adoption UK Scotland director, commented:

“We’re gratified to see the First Minister acknowledge and formally apologise for the impact that forced adoption had on those involved. We wholeheartedly support the apology for those who had their children removed and are particularly pleased to see this extend to the individuals who were adopted through this practice, whose lifelong needs have gone unacknowledged and unsupported.

“Adoption UK now calls on other UK governments to follow Scotland’s lead in issuing a formal apology to all those who have been affected by forced adoptions, and to meet the needs of all adopted individuals who would benefit from support.”

Last year, 2022, MSPs Emma Roddick, Monica Lennon, Miles Briggs, Maggie Chapman, and Alex Cole-Hamilton, were signatories of a cross-party letter to the Scottish Government calling for such an apology to be made.

Following the First Minister’s statement, Emma Roddick said: 

Head and shoulders shot of Emma Roddick in the Scottish Parliament

“It was an extremely emotional moment to hear the First Minister offer a sincere and heartfelt apology on behalf of the Scottish Government to all those who have suffered as a result of historic forced adoption. It was also heartening to be joined in the gallery by so many tireless campaigners on this issue, including the inspirational Marion McMillan. 

“Addressing historic injustices such as forced adoption practices is incredibly important. It sends a powerful message to those impacted by such a shameful chapter in Scotland’s collective past and I hope that this apology will provide them with some level of comfort. 

“For the tens of thousands of parents and children affected by forced adoption practices, an apology from their First Minister and Scottish Government is a momentous moment. Although we cannot right the wrongs of the past, it is vital that we recognise the heartbreak experienced by so many Scottish parents and children, and try to set the record straight by condemning such a cruel breach of their most basic human rights.

“I was pleased to have been able to ask the First Minister for an assurance that the Scottish Government will continue to place lived experience at the heart of its approach to helping those impacted by historic adoption practices and was reassured by her response that this will always be the case, no matter who succeeds her.” 

The Scottish Government is providing funding for specialist support and counselling for those affected.

Anyone who is impacted by trauma issues as a result of historical adoption practices can access information and advice from Health in Mind which provides a dedicated trauma support helpline on 07741 743971.

Many of those adopted were never told the truth about their birth or provided with any assistance in contacting their birth parents. The practice of forced adoption has been consistently condemned by numerous international human rights organisations and apologies have already been seen in countries such as Australia, Canada and Ireland. 

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