Friday, 7 October 2011

'Movement for an Adoption Apology'

Guest post from Jean Robertson-Molloy:
A new Green Party Policy has just been agreed at the Sheffield Conference: that we should campaign for an official government apology for the past treatment of unmarried birth parents who were coerced into giving up their babies for adoption.

Some may think that the Green Party has more important matters to attend to than this. But this decision is important and worthwhile.

Firstly it is important for the well-being of the people who suffered in this way.
The idea that one should give up a child for adoption simply because one was not married sounds today almost laughable. But that was what many women were coerced into doing by the simple method of refusing them information and advice about the available benefits at that time. Many people, especially women, suffered years of mental and or physical ill-health subsequently, which perhaps nothing can now make up for.

But at least we can let them know that their pain and grief is recognised, and thus make the unspeakable speakable, an essential ingredient of healing.

But this is also a matter of social justice with wider implications. As Greens, we tend to be very aware of the injustices suffered by people in other countries, of the children who starve, of the homosexuals threatened with death, of the women raped routinely in war-fare, to mention only a few.

But one of the Green Party’s strengths, it seems to me, is that we are also aware and willing to get involved with local issues, individual injustices. And not to sweep under the carpet inconvenient facts. That half a million women suffered under this system is a very inconvenient fact for those who want to promote adoption today. But suffer they did, and I am proud of the Green Party’s willingness to endorse this campaign. Jean Robertson-Molloy 4-10-11

I seconded this motion for Conference. Only those involved know of the trauma involved. Here is Jean's moving speech to Conference:
Adoption Apology Speech Jean Robertson-Molloy, at Green Party Conference—Sheffield 10-9-11
I am a birth mother. I gave up a child for adoption in 1963 because I was not married . I’m not against all adoptions , but I am against the way things were done in the past.

It seems incredible now, but in the 60s, and before and after that, it was a total disaster for a woman to be pregnant without being married. Horrified parents would often threaten to throw her out, while the authorities preferred not to give information about the welfare benefits that she could be entitled to, but constantly advised that adoption was the best thing. This of course was pre-pill and pre legal abortion.

And there was a huge double standard prevailing; young men could happily sow their wild oats–but if a woman was found out for having ‘got herself pregnant’ there was hell to pay.

Therefore many women felt there was no option but to give up their children. And often suffered years of mental health problems, even suicidal depression, up till the present day. Some birth fathers, who were also forced to abandon their children, suffered these traumas too. But saddest of all, many of these birth mothers never managed to have any more children.

And is everything more civilised today? I don’t think so. Our present government is right now engaged in cutting down on all the services which exist to support single parents and vulnerable families, while at the same time blaming them whenever the family falls apart. Fast-tracking of children from such families into adoption is their current answer, instead of trying to deal with the real causes of family breakdowns (such as drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and poverty*.)

So, let’s demand another look at the realities of the adoption system. And at least recognise and acknowledge the pain and grief of those past situations when so many women lost their children needlessly. An apology for this is surely long overdue. Thank you.
* this phrase within the brackets was omitted when she ctually gave the speech.

Three birth mothers, including Jean, have set up a campaign group on this issue,  called MAA -- standing for 'Movement for an Adoption Apology'. They have not yet got a web-site. They need lots of people to write to their MPs in support of the demand for a Parliamentary apology.  Meantime, anyone who is interested is welcome to contact Jean about it.


Steve said...

So you'l also be pushing for a proper apology from the Japanese for their appalling treatment of just about everyone they got their hands on in World War Two?

Thought not.

Noel Lynch said...

Alan, that is the most asinine comment that I have ever seen.