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Welsh Government apologises for historic forced adoption practices

People affected by the historic practice of forced adoption have been welcomed to the Senedd for an apology on behalf of the Welsh Government.

27/04/23

Welsh Government apologises for historic forced adoption practices

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, has apologised to people affected by forced adoption on behalf of the Welsh Government

People affected were welcomed to the Senedd for an apology for the societal failures that led to these historical practices.

Following a previous personal apology in January, Morgan acknowledged the experiences and the lifelong impact for all those affected by such practices in Wales.

The apology comes after the Joint Committee on Human Rights found that unmarried women were shamed and pressured into giving up their children. It is estimated that almost 185,000 babies were affected across England and Wales between 1949 and 1976.

Forced adoption practices predate devolution in Wales, and campaigners are now urging the UK government to apologise.

Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have already made apologies to those affected.

Delivering the official apology in the Senedd chamber before meeting with people affected, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan conveyed her “deepest sympathy and regret to all affected”.

“The impacts are diverse and long-lasting, not only for the women separated from a child by adoption, but also for the adult sons and daughters who were adopted as babies, and their extended family members. I want to acknowledge the father's experiences when it comes to these historical practices too.

“Many still find it extremely difficult to open-up and talk about the life-long heartbreak they have bottled up for fear of still being judged.

“The feelings of loss, grief, anger and pain remain.

“Regardless of the societal pressures or social norms of the day, such cruelty should never be an acceptable part of our society in Wales.

Former Labour Health Minister Ann Lloyd Keen was one of the people affected by forced adoption who attended the Senedd.

“Today is so important to me and my son. I was always told his adoption was ‘for the best’,” Lloyd Keen said. “Sadly this was not the case. It was horrible, shameful, and left me grieving and feeling unable to talk to anyone. I was forced to live a life that remained a secret.

“I made the decision to become a registered nurse to provide the sort of dignity and social justice to patients that was denied to me when I was at my most vulnerable.

“I later had the privilege of being elected a Labour MP and a Health Minister, but the feeling of deep shame has stayed with me. I later experienced so much joy when I was reunited with my wonderful son.

“Today, as a Welsh woman sitting in the Welsh Parliament, not far from where my son was born in Swansea, I feel empowered and that my name has been cleared. I did not ‘give him up’. He was taken from me.”

Morgan added that the Welsh Government is now working alongside the National Adoption Service to consider the issues outlined within the Joint Committee’s report and develop support services which will address the specific needs of those affected by forced adoption and forced family separation.

“As we face future challenges, we will remember the lessons of family separation and will have due regard to continuing to protect the fundamental rights of children and the importance of their right to be cared for by a parent.”

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