babies

‘We had our babies taken from us we didn’t give them away’

https://news.stv.tv/scotland/year-after-nicola-sturgeons-forced-adoption-apology-time-is-running-out-for-mothers-to-find-children

‘We had our babies taken from us we didn’t give them away’

Jeannot Farmer urges Scottish Government to get answers for victims affected by historic forced adoption ‘before it is too late.’  Women who were forced to give their babies up for adoption have made an urgent plea for help finding out what happened to their children.  Campaigners said the words in an apology made by the Scottish Government last year “lose their worth every day” without measures to help victims of the “ongoing injustice”.  It comes a year after former first minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered an official apology in the Scottish Parliament to those who have been affected by historic forced adoption policies.  The recognition was the first formal apology in the UK to tens of thousands of unmarried mothers “shamed” and “coerced” into having their babies adopted.  Group Movement for an Adoption Apology sent a letter and knitted baby bootees to over 60 MSPs urging them to back the campaign.  Jeannot Farmer warns time is running out for families.  She told STV News: “We chose to put out a statement expressing concern that people are still passing away not knowing what happened to their children.  The pain associated with that is severe.  I know what it was like to find my son after 31 years and how every birthday was worse than the last one not knowing where he was.  I can’t imagine that being doubled. We have friends in that situation.  Living with the stigma all of those years is very difficult. But the stigma is nothing compared to the loss of your child.”

Jeannot was one of thousands of women forced to give up her baby for adoption.  At the age of 22, she gave birth to a boy while she was still a fourth year university student.  Despite having explored options with social services, she did not want to give up her son.  However, she was told while she was in hospital that her baby would be put up for adoption.  “Sometimes I go back to the apology to remember what was said. Words like ‘historic injustice’ are meaningful and important. What happened was cruel,” she said.

“That day, the stigma and disgrace of giving my baby up for adoption was removed from me. Now I don’t have anyone thinking I have submitted my child for adoption voluntarily. That was done to me.  My child was not taken, not given.”

It is estimated around 60,000 women in Scotland were forced to give up their babies throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Hundreds of thousands of children were given up for adoption between 1949 and 1976 across the UK, at a time when unmarried mothers were often rejected by their families and ostracised by society.  Adoptions were generally handled through agencies run by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and the Salvation Army.  What you’ll find is most mothers it happened to don’t really know what happened to them,” Jeannot said.

“We had this idea mothers giving babies up for adoption analysed the risks and benefits of keeping or giving them up, then came up with a rational decision. That happened to no one.  A far more common story is the mothers gave birth, were sent to another room to hold the baby for a minute, then that baby was gone and never seen again.”

The group Movement for an Adoption Apology made a number of recommendations, such as councils delivering trauma-informed counselling services; easier birth record access; reunion services and formal apologies from institutions which administered services that resulted in coerced or forced adoption.  But campaigners insist measures discussed in the Parliament on that day have “failed to emerge”.  While work is currently underway to deliver funding for peer-support services, Jeannot said more work must be done to allow victims to access records.  The system is already in place in states across Australia, where around 250,000 are estimated to have been affected by the practice.  Jeannot said thousands risk being left with unanswered questions about their identity without the government taking action.  “It’s incredibly urgent,” Jeannot said. “People are dying.  People should be allowed to know the name of the person they have lost and find out if they might still be alive.  We are losing the opportunity to pass on important information to our families and pass on a legacy for their relatives.  Those questions, the hurt and the grief does not end with the passing of the father and the mother. Those ripples extend beyond.  It’s also about passing on medical information; if a mother, sister or aunt has breast cancer, there is no way to tell a daughter who was adopted to get tested for the gene.  It’s about what the children inherit too; ‘why do I have that shape of my nose?’ ‘Why am I good at art?’ People want to know these things.”

Jeannot said that it is important to remember mothers and adoptees reserve the right to refuse contact.  She added: “People have a right to privacy, but people also have a right to information. It’s about a balance in-between those two things.  But if our children had been taken by a random stranger, no one would question our right to know who they are.  That’s what happened to our children who were taken. We didn’t give them away.”

Marking the anniversary Natalie Don, Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise said:  “I acknowledge the immense pain and suffering that adoptees, mothers and families have endured as a result of these unjust practices. Addressing the harms caused remains a priority for this Government.  We are establishing a series of lived experience sessions on historic forced adoption, to be facilitated by the Scottish Government’s Principal Psychological Adviser.  These sessions will explore collaborative solutions and will discuss what form of support is needed to address the emotional and psychological impact of historic forced adoption for adoptees, mothers and families.  We are also exploring what more we can do to ensure people affected by historic forced adoption are able to easily access the right information and support when they need it.  This includes working with both the National Records of Scotland and Scottish Court and Tribunals Service in order to assist people with the practical aspects of accessing records, as well as signposting to further support.  We continue to fund the charity, Health in Mind, to provide specialist support through peer support groups. Monthly peer support sessions are now being held for mothers and an adoptees group will begin shortly.”

New rights for UK donor babies as they turn 18

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-rights-uk-donor-babies.html

OCTOBER 3, 2023

New rights for UK donor babies as they turn 18
by Helen ROWE

Around 30 young adults conceived via sperm or egg donation in the UK will soon be able to discover the identity of their biological parent.  The new rights come as rising numbers of children are being conceived using the technology, posing a range of challenges for the children, their families and donors.  The UK law removed the anonymity of egg and sperm donors in 2005 and gave children the right to receive basic information about them when they reached 18.  With the first children covered by the legislation turning 18 this month, they will finally be able to request details such as the donor’s full name, date of birth and last known address.  Advances in fertility treatment methods and changing social attitudes have seen an increasing number of donor-conceived children being born not just to people facing fertility challenges but also same-sex couples and women in their late forties and even fifties.  Initially the numbers of children who will have the right to know will be small, with just 30 people becoming eligible between now and December this year.   Data from the UK’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) shows that will rise to more than 700 people by the end of 2024, increasing to 11,400 by 2030.  According to the latest available figures from the regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos, 4,100 UK births around one in 170 were the result of donor conception in 2019.

Few months off

The cut-off point for the legislation has left some donor-conceived people disappointed that the identity of their donors will remain a mystery.  “I’m happy for the people who want to find out but I’m also a little annoyed that I was a couple of months off, so I won’t have the chance,” 19-year-old student Jamie Ruddock, from Brighton on England’s south coast, told AFP.

Ruddock said he had known for as long as he could remember that he had been donor-conceived and while he was not looking for another father figure he was still curious.  His older brother along with their father had begun looking for the donor via a DNA ancestry testing service but had not had any success.  “My brother definitely has a bigger sense of curiosity than I do but if my brother finds him I would like to have a conversation with him,” he said.

People in the UK conceived by egg or sperm donation will now be able to trace their biological parents.  Nina Barnsley, director of the UK’s Donor Conception Network, said many of those eligible to ask for the information might not even be aware of how they were conceived.  When new techniques such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF) were first introduced some four decades ago, infertility was something of a taboo subject and parents often did not tell children how they were conceived.  But for many years now, psychologists have advised families to be open with the information as early as possible.  Others might not have realized the significance of the legislation or have other priorities.

‘Incredible gift’

“Certainly in terms of our donor-conceived young people, many have got far more important things going on in their lives with exams and girlfriends and boyfriends, travel and work and other challenges,” said Barnsley.

“Being donor-conceived may well just be low on the list of interests.”

Having the right to access the information, however, could still be important to them in the longer term, even if it also brought potential challenges.  Some parents would inevitably be “anxious about making the donor into a real person in their lives and how their children would feel,” she said.

At the same time many were also “curious about these donors and wanted to thank them to acknowledge their contribution towards helping them make their families,” she added.

Donors are being urged to get in contact with the clinic where they donated and make sure their details are up to date.  “This is a very important time for young adults who were conceived by the use of donor sperm or eggs. Many will hope to find out more about their donors as they reach 18,” said Professor Jackson Kirkman-Brown, chair of the Association for Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS).

He said it was important that donors too reach out for support and guidance to help them navigate any approaches.  “Being a donor is an incredible gift and alongside the sector ARCS are keen to recognize and support those who enable people to have the families they desire,” he added.

Modify message

Mother Denied Justice Campaigns to Transform the Family Courts

https://filia.org.uk/latest-news/2021/12/22/mother-denied-justice-campaigns-to-transform-the-family-courts

Mother Denied Justice Campaigns to Transform the Family Courts

By Victoria Hudson, Founder of #JusticeForFCchildren #GetMHome and campaigner for the Redress/Justice For Family Court Children.

Victoria Hudson has been campaigning for several years to increase the protection of domestic abuse survivors and children who become entangled in the family court system. Tragically, Victoria and her daughter have themselves experienced untold suffering, trauma, and harm at the hands of the family courts.

Victoria, who campaigns under the banner #JusticeforFCchildren, worked alongside other campaigners to successfully lobby the Government to review unsafe contact orders and the removal of children by the family courts. A report, published by the Ministry of Justice in June 2020 laid bare many hard truths about long-standing failings, including harming children by placing them in danger by “enabling the continued control of children and adult victims of domestic abuse by alleged abusers, as well as the continued abuse of victims and children.”[1]

Victoria is now passionately driven to bring about the radical changes necessary to protect domestic abuse survivors and their children from harmful and unjust state systems and structures, by making the family courts and their proceedings more transparent.

Like too many other women experiencing domestic violence and abuse, instead of protecting them, the state colluded with Victoria’s abuser in the most punishing way possible by severing mother and child. In September 2018, Victoria’s daughter (then aged 2) was physically and forcibly removed from her family home and placed under a Care Order with her ex-partner, who is not biologically related to her. Many other children in domestic abuse cases are severed from their mothers by adoption; the mother being blamed for the abuse rather than protected, and their right to family life permanently erased.

For Victoria and other mothers in her position, it is ironic that the Joint Committee on Human Rights, is conducting an inquiry into hundreds of forced adoptions that severed babies from unmarried mothers during the 1950s to 1970s, when mothers experiencing domestic abuse are currently facing similar infringements of human rights in the family courts.

Victoria is requesting the Ministry of Justice immediately review of her case in the family courts and is requesting the Joint Committee on Human Rights conduct an inquiry into whether family court decisions are breaching rights to family life.

[1] “Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases” (Ministry of Justice, June 2020)

If you want to support Victoria’s campaign, you can do three things:

  1. First and foremost, email a letter to Lord David Wolfson MP, Minister for Family Courts to request that he instigates an immediate review of Victoria’s own case in the family courts. If successful, this will provide a test case for the campaign and lead to further reviews. Use this letter to draft your own. His email is wolfsond@parliament.uk

  2. You can also email a letter to Ms Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, requesting that alongside the current review into historic forced adoptions, she also orchestrates a review of family court decisions in relation to their impact upon the rights of children and birth mothers to family life. Use this letter to draft your own. Her email is harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk

  3. Help Victoria to get more supporters and allies by following and sharing #JusticeforFCchildren on Twitter @Victoria_Hudson and Facebook facebook.com/getmhome

[1] “Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases” (Ministry of Justice, June 2020)

May 2024
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031