Apology by Nicola Sturgeon issued over forced adoption

Nicola Sturgeon issued a heartfelt, sincere and unreserved apology to forced adoption victims. Thousands of unmarried women in Scotland in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, were forced to place their children for adoption. 

The prime minister informed Holyrood that it was time to "acknowledge the grave wrongs that have been committed." She mentioned that what happened to those women was unfathomable. It is estimated that 60,000 unmarried women in Scotland had their children adopted. 

Many women were coerced into giving up their children, and some were denied housing and social benefits that would have allowed them to keep their children.

Ms. Sturgeon told MSPs that several children who were forcibly removed from their parents for adoption were abused. She added that It is essential to emphasize that a lot of them went to loving homes. Nevertheless, acknowledging these injustices should never be construed as a denial of the deep bonds people share with their adopted families.

There is nothing that can ever nullify the love between these families. However, it is also evident that a large number of those affected, far too many, had a vastly different experience. She also mentioned that they recognize that some people have always lacked the sense of belonging while others may have endured abuse or mistreatment. 

While speaking to MSPs in the Holyrood chamber Ms.Sturgeon described forced adoption as a level of unfairness that is currently very difficult to understand. She stated that the cause was a society that considered women second-class citizens. Marion McMillan, a native of Paisley, was 17 when her son was taken from her after she gave birth in a Christian mother-and-baby home.

She explained that when she was a young girl, she left Scotland for England, a country she had only read about in geography books. She said that they were thrown to the wolves and could not even attend church. They were trapped in the darkest of circumstances. "You were not only rejected by your families, but also by society as a whole. There was no one to whom you could reveal your pregnancy." Ms. McMillan, who is now in her seventies, stated that the formal apology will bring "significant healing" to thousands of adoptive mothers and adoptees.

The director of the charity Adoption UK Scotland stated that they wholeheartedly support the sincere apology for the women whose children were taken from them. She mentioned that they are pleased to see this extend to those who were adopted through this practice and whose lifelong needs have been unsupported and unacknowledged. Adoption UK now requests that all other UK governments issue formal apologies to all those affected by forced adoptions and meet the needs of all adopted individuals who could benefit from support. The apology in Scotland follows apologies made elsewhere in the world. 

In 2013, the Australian government issued the world's first formal apology for forced adoption, accepting responsibility for the practice. Then, in 2021, the Irish government apologized to former residents of mother-and-baby homes in Ireland for the manner in which they had been treated for decades.