image of front cover of Adult Adoptee Movement Response to JCHR Report Violation of family life: Adoption of Children of Unmarried Women 1949–1976

Adoptee response

We welcome the report and its recommendations specifically in relation to challenging the Government’s denial of responsibility for the practice of forced adoption, and many of the recommendations made.

We participated in the inquiry and wish to ensure the best possible outcome to support everyone affected. However, so far, the focus has been on the unmarried women, rather than the adoptees.

We believe that there is still insufficient understanding of the impact of forced adoption on adoptees and their families. As adoptees we would welcome an inquiry into the challenges faced by us, our children, and our wider families

Our recommendations

We want to ensure that our trauma is acknowledged, and appropriate support is offered. Furthermore, we wish to ensure that the cycle of trauma does not pass down to our families and future generations.

An apology can never make up for past events, but we wish to ensure that the trauma we face in our daily lives is never repeated. The Government should acknowledge and apologise for the way we were treated. It should set new standards and legislation to protect adoptees.

1: Issue a full apology

The Government should issue a full apology that fully recognises not only the harm done to the birth mothers but also the harm done to the adoptees

2: An inquiry into the experiences and the effects of adoption on adoptees

The Government should undertake an inquiry into the experiences and the effects of adoption on adoptees for the purposes of:

  • understanding the lived experiences of adoptees
  • examining the effects of adoption on adoptees
  • informing adoption legislation, policy, and practices exploring options to specifically recognise the separation, loss, and grief of adoptees
3: A research study on past adoption practices

The Government should fund a research study on past adoption practices. We propose that the study should:

  • have a public awareness campaign to reach as many participants as possible
  • seek perspectives from people affected by historical forced adoptions, including adoptees, mothers, fathers, children of adoptees, extended family, and adoptive parents
  • explore issues relating to separation trauma and abandonment, severance and displacement, loss and disenfranchised grief, identity, relationship dysfunction, and intergenerational effects
  • be an ongoing research project into the impact of adoption on the adoptee
4: Change the narrative of adoption

The prevailing narrative has adoption as an unqualified social good, adoptive parents as saviours, and adoptees as ‘lucky’. This flawed view is the root cause of many adoption issues and a barrier to implementing the Inquiry’s recommendations. We should change the narrative to put the burden of gratitude where it belongs: on adoptive parents.

5: Access to records – both in the UK and abroad

The Government should provide:

  • quick and easy access to our medical and family history and identity information.
  • adoptees throughout the UK should be entitled to their full adoption file
  • proper support for any adoptee wishing to search for birth families, free and easy to access regardless of where in the UK you live
  • better-regulated tracing and intermediary services. Current services are prohibitively expensive, and often profiteering
  • all inter-country adoptees should be entitled to funding for travel to their country of birth and given additional support if they wish to search.
  • The government should look to end inter-country adoptions. Practices may have improved here but many of the countries we adopt from still have archaic rules and laws.
6: Intermediary services and support for all parties involved
  • Intermediary services and support for all parties involved, including extended family members
  • Support services need to be available for adoptees and their families, separated by borders
7: Access to trauma and adoption-informed counselling
  • Access to trauma- and adoption-informed counselling. Despite government assertions, there is no access to this for adult adoptees via the NHS
  • Proper, easily accessible, therapy, free from the constraints of Ofsted. Open-ended, trauma-informed, and funded
  • Funding for peer support networks and funding to train and support peer support workers
8: Extending the access to the Adoption Support Fund for all adoptees

Extending the access to the Adoption Support Fund for all adoptees, regardless of age. This support fund could be used for access to birth records, tracing services, intermediary services, and trauma-informed counselling

9: Allow annulment of adoptions in line with current guardianship practices

Adoptees should be able to annul their adoptions, easily and without undue delay or question, to move in line with current practices around legal and special guardianship

  • Governments must allow adoptees the legal right to integrate birth certificates with adoption status.
  • That these be issued on request and that they be legal proof of identity, of equal status to other birth certificates, and be shown as such in archives and within government-held data
  • Furthermore, any adoptees after 18+ should have the right to leave adoptee status and return to Birth Identity legally, this matter should be simplified on a “no-fault basis” and “no claims basis” and at no charge to the Adoptee
  • This right to revocation, annulment, discharge will restore overdue Human Rights to an identity they feel comfortable living in as adoptees revoking their adoptee status
10: Access to screening for genetic conditions

Adoptees should automatically have access to screening for conditions that may be hereditary, e.g.., breast cancer, Huntington’s, glaucoma, etc. as we don’t have comprehensive medical histories. Often if we ask for genetic tests, we are denied access to tests.

11: Access to visas
  • The legal status of adoptees needs to be addressed and further research carried out to explore how visas can be issued promptly for adoptees, whose biological roots and/or families are in different countries.
  • Access to free legal advice and representation to acquire citizenship where reunion has been made impossible due to border controls.
12: Research into best practice for intermediaries

Further research should be carried out to better understand the extent that intermediaries help in the process and to develop best practice guidelines for intermediaries

13: Access to notification of death of birth parents

A system needs to be implemented for adoptees to find out if their birth parents have died

  • This could be further extended to include births/deaths of biological siblings
14: All parties should disclose their roles and issue an unconditional apology
  • All parties involved in the historic should disclose their roles in the practice of historic forced apologies and issue an unconditional apology
  • All parties must commit to ensuring that this can never happen again
  • An assurance that adoption today will change, and that the Government will work harder to keep families together.
  • No more forced adoptions, no more splitting up of sibling sets, and proper exploration of kinship care. The use of special and legal guardianship should be encouraged.