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Committee hears from mothers and adopted people in historic adoption inquiry

16 March 2022

On Wednesday 16 March, the Joint Committee on Human Rights will take evidence from mothers and adopted people affected by historic adoption practices between 1949 and 1976. The session will give the Committee an opportunity to hear about the lived experience of those affected and how their human rights as we understand them today were impacted.

Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP said:

“Our human rights include the right to family life and it’s hard to think of a more important right than that of a child to be with its mother and a mother to be with her child. Yet between 1949 and 1976, hundreds of thousands of babies were taken from their mothers and placed for adoption for no more reason than that their mother was unmarried. Now these mothers are speaking up about the enduring pain arising out of what was done to them. With this evidence session the joint committee on human rights will ensure that both parliament and the public more widely will hear from them and consider what should be done to recognise the pain and trauma that was inflicted on them.”

Between 1949 and 1976, a range of historic practices led to the adoption of the children of unmarried mothers . While parental consent was a legal requirement for an adoption to take place, there were a range of other factors that may have led to women feeling they had little choice. This could include societal stigma around single mothers with an illegitimate child, inadequate levels of welfare support and a lack of information about where to get help. Direct pressure from family, peer groups, medical practitioners, and other social or religious institutions may also have unduly influenced decisions on adoption.

The inquiry examines whether adoption processes respected the human rights of the mothers and children as they are now understood. It also seeks to give a platform to those whose lives were changed and who are still affected by events that took place decades ago.

The Committee will take evidence from Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, on this issue in May.

Further information

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