Mothers in Scotland asked to share stories of forced adoption

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Mothers in Scotland asked to share stories of forced adoption
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The Scottish government is calling on families who experienced historic forced adoption to share their stories

Women who were historically forced into giving up their children for adoption are being asked to share their experiences.

It is estimated 60,000 mothers in Scotland alone had babies adopted simply because they were unmarried.

Campaigners have previously called on the Scottish government to give an official apology to those affected.

Ministers have now launched an online questionnaire for those who wish to share their stories and views.

The practice in the 1950s, 60s and 70s saw up to 250,000 women across the UK coerced into handing over their babies. Many were denied access to housing and social benefits which may have allowed them to have kept them.

Some of the women never had more children and said the loss caused them a .

In 2013 Australia issued the world's first government formal apology for forced adoption, taking responsibility for the practice.

Four years ago, the Canadian senate recommended the federal government issue an apology to 300,000 Canadian women.

And in January last year, the Irish Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, apologised to former residents of mother and baby homes in Ireland for the way they were treated over several decades.

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Julia Gillard said the "shameful" policy had created "a legacy of pain"

Months later Labour MSP Monica Lennon tabled a motion on historical forced adoption, calling the Scottish government to say sorry on behalf of the nation. She asked that ministers should speed up the work being done to reach the point of making the apology.

A formal apology has not been issued, however, the Scottish government has now asked people affected to share their "views and insight", which it says will inform how it delivers support.

A dedicated helpline has also been set up with the mental health charity Health in Mind, with staff who have understanding of trauma.

Children's Minister Clare Haughey said she offered her sincere sympathies to families with experience of forced adoption and that the issue "deserves to be looked at properly".

She said: "Listening to these voices will help us to understand what support and action is needed. The last thing I want to do is to ask those affected to revisit the trauma it caused them, but, if they feel able, I would encourage them to give their views and share their experiences.

"I hope we can work together to explore next steps."

The UK parliament at Westminster has launched its own separate inquiry into forced adoptions. The Joint Human Rights Committee began taking evidence before Christmas.

It is due to report later this year.

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