I am writing to you due to the media reports that you want to speed up the adoption process in the UK as mother who was coerced into surrendering.
My story is that I was a 19 year who worked for the civil service when I fell pregnant. I wanted to raise my son so I quiet long enough not to be pressured into having an abortion by my parents. My reasoning behind this was that they had pressured my sister into aborting her baby when she was 15 years. Adoption never crossed my mind. However when my parents found out I was pregnant they arranged everything as it was too late for me to have an abortion. The tactics used by my parents included:
- I was told that I would be an unfit to be a mother.
- I was told that I would be inadequate as a mother.
- I was told that keeping my baby would be selfish.
- I was told that I couldn’t give my son what the adopters could give him.
- It was stressed to me that my baby “needed a two-parent family.”
- It was stressed to me that the needs of my baby came before my own needs and that I could not fulfill my baby’s needs.
- I were told that if I did not surrender my baby, that my baby would be taken by social services because I would be sacked because I chose to keep my baby and I would be kicked out (by my parents) so he would be removed from me because I was homeless.
- I was told that adoption was the unselfish option because I was “thinking about what was best for my baby.”
- That my son would be better off without me.
The adoption agency’s tactics included:
- I was told to think only of the joy that “I would give to a couple who could not have children of their own.”
- I was told that if I changed your mind, you would be disappointing a couple who deserved a baby.
- I was told that I should not keep my baby as I would be letting down the adopters down.
- I was told that I couldn’t stop the adoption when my baby was about 6 weeks old.
My son was born on the 3rd August and his adoption was finalized late January 1982. He went straight to the hospital nursery. The first time I asked to see him I was taken to him and was allowed to hold him. After that I was told I was “too ill to see him”. I received on letter from his adopters but post reunion I found out they had written three. I believed what I was told at the time that if I kept my son I would lose my job so I wouldn’t be able to claim any benefits as I would be choosing my son over my job. I was also told by my parents they would make sure I would be homeless and make sure I didn’t get alternative accommodation. They received three letters which they believed were from me but I never wrote them any letters. Post reunion I found out that I couldn’t consent to surrender my son until he was 6 weeks old. I wasn’t told my rights, I didn’t see any paperwork until I requested to see it post reunion and it is questionable I signed anything although I don’t believe I did. I was expected to get on with my life, forget about my son, I would never be allowed to search and he would be too happy with his adopters to search for me. My son did start searching for me when he was 18 and found my family. They lied for years telling him they didn’t know where I was. I found my son when he was 23 so it blew apart all the lies behind him being adopted.
My son was in foster care for about 5/6 weeks before he went to his adopters. The adoption agency told me it was better that I didn’t know where he was in case I agreed to the adoption. I didn’t know when the adoption was finalized. I do believe my signature was forged on the Consent to Relinquish form. I have since tried to see the form but nobody has told me where it is even though I was told I could see it. I have even been told it has been lost after I was told I could see the form.
I wasn’t counseled before my son was adopted nor did I know of the lifelong implications, risks, and emotional consequences of surrender. Nor did I know what options that would enable you to keep your baby (i.e. financial assistance, temporary foster care, or filing through court for child support from your baby’s father). Nobody explained my legal rights or that I would have to sign a Consent to Relinquish form. I was pressured to decide on adoption while still pregnant although I refused to agree to adoption of my son. I wasn’t given a chance to prove I could care for my son.
In reality my rights as a mother included:
· I had the right to see my baby after he was born.
· I had the right to hold, nurse, and care for my baby.
· I had the right to know what my legal rights were and to know about the Consent to Relinquish form.
· I had the right to care for my baby without feeling pressured to decide about adoption within ANY certain time period.
· I had the right to adequate financial support which would have enabled you to keep and raise your baby if I had lost my job.
What happened to me was common place for young, unwed mothers post WWII through to the 1970’s. Mothers started more support from family members from the 1970’s and they knew what their rights were to get benefits. However coerced adoptions didn’t drop dramatically until the 1980’s.
In 2005 Mr Blair made it public knowledge that he wanted to see a rise in adoptions which I understood to be from foster care. Many people believed this was a good way to get children who needed a family out of foster care. The reality has been an increase of babies and young children being removed from their parents as they are easier to adopt than older children. One abused child is one too many and one child dying of abuse is one too many. However there has been an increase of forced adoptions for reasons including the mother is considered by social workers as too stupid despite having family support, the mother has been in foster care, depression/post natal depression so may be a danger to her child and false allegation (which have been proven to be false but adoption still goes ahead.
I do believe that adoption practices from the 1940’s to the present day should be investigated. I also believe that mothers who have been coerced into surrendering should have a public apology.