Formal Apology for Historical Adoption Practices

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Heartbreak of Mothers Forced to Give Up Babies

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has delivered a formal apology to those affected by ‘cruel’ historical adoption practices.

Many thousands of women – most of them young and unmarried – were forced to give up their babies for adoption until the late 1970s.

The First Minister said the forced adoptions were ‘unjust and profoundly wrong’.

Following meetings with Ministers and campaigners, the Scottish Government last year encouraged people with direct experience of historical adoption practices to pass on their views and insight – online and through a questionnaire –  about how they can best be supported.

The SNP government has committed funding of around £145,000 to provide specialist support and counselling. A proposal to establish peer groups has now been agreed. Research is also underway to identify how existing support services can be improved.

– Graeme 

This was an important and moving intervention from the First Minister in her last week in office.

I hope that this formal apology will feel significant to those affected, providing a recognition of the wrongs they endured.

As Nicola Sturgeon said in the opening of her speech, the issuing of a formal apology is an action that governments reserve as a response to the worst injustices in our history.

The historical adoption practices in question were certainly among these – I feel for each and every individual who went through such traumas.

– First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

As a Government, and a Parliament, we can set the record straight; we can acknowledge the terrible wrongs that were done, and we can say – with one voice – that we are sorry.

So today as First Minister, on behalf of the Scottish Government, I say directly:

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.

The First Minister’s speech to Parliament can be read in full here.

The Scottish Government is continuing to explore, with those affected, the key challenges they face in relation to adoption records.

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.

The staff have knowledge and understanding of trauma and its impacts, including on mental wellbeing.

Support is also available from: