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Formal meeting (oral evidence session): The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976

Human Rights (Joint Committee)
The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Start times: 2.40pm (private) 3.00pm (public)


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Purpose of the session

Between 1949 and 1976, a range of historic practices led to unmarried mothers feeling forced to give their children up for adoption. While parental consent was a legal requirement for an adoption to take place, there may have been other factors that 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. 

In this opening session of the inquiry, the Committee will examine the adoption practices, and wider societal or familial influences, that led to unmarried mothers putting their child up for adoption. It will also investigate what support is available to those affected by historic adoptions. 

Witnesses

Wednesday 15 December 2021

From 3pm: 

  • Professor Gordon Harold, Professor of the Psychology of Education and Mental Health at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Rudd Programme for Adoption Research and Practice 
  • Dr Michael Lambert, Fellow in Social Inequalities, Lancaster University
  • Dr Jatinder Sandhu, author of PhD thesis The birth mother and the evolution of adoption policy and practice in England since 1926 

Meeting details

At 3.00pm: Oral evidence
Inquiry The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976
Professor of the Psychology of Education and Mental Health at University of Cambridge
Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Lancaster
At 4.45pm: Private discussion
Inquiry The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976

Location

Room 16, Palace of Westminster

How to attend