Skip to main content

The right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976


The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched a new inquiry to understand the experiences of unmarried women whose children were adopted between 1949 and 1976 in England and Wales. The inquiry will consider whether adoption processes respected the human rights, as we understand them now, of the mothers and children who experienced them, as well as the lasting consequences on their lives. 

The inquiry will cover a range of practices that led to the children of unmarried mothers being adopted. The scope of the inquiry will specifically cover issues arising from cases that took place during the time period between the Adoption of Children Act 1949 and the Adoption Act 1976.

It will look at:

  • Whether the right to family life of unmarried mothers and their children, as we understand it now, respected at the time?
  • How the experience of being adopted, or having a child who was adopted between 1949 and 1976 impacted the family life of the unmarried mother, child, and others?
  • How social practices at the time contributed to unmarried women not being able to keep their babies and what, if any, other reasons contributed to women feeling compelled to have their babies adopted?

Read the initial call for evidence for more detail about the inquiry.

*The deadline for submitting written evidence to the inquiry was 28th October. If you are interested in submitting evidence past the deadline, please contact*

Content warning – Please be aware that some of the written evidence published as part of this inquiry may contain content that some readers might find distressing.

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was 28th October. The Committee may be able to accept further written evidence past the submission deadline. If you are interested in doing so please email 

Upcoming events

View all events

No upcoming events scheduled

Contact us

The Committee is unable to look into individual cases

  • Email:
  • Phone: 0207 219 2793 (general enquiries) | 020 7219 8430 (media enquiries)
  • Address: Joint Committee on Human Rights, Houses of Parliament. London. SW1A 0AA