Department for Education written question – answered on 19th November 2021.

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Photo of Jess Phillips Jess Phillips Shadow Minister (Home Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the impact on women of the policy of forced adoption during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government has great sympathy for those affected by historical adoption practices. Our hearts go out to the parents and children of those involved. Although from a modern perspective these practices are clearly wrong, they took place at a time when society shared very different values.

Thankfully society today takes a very different attitude to single parents. Lessons of the time have been learned and led to significant changes to legislation and practice. Single parents are now supported to help ensure that children and their families stay together, and children are only removed permanently by a court, without the consent of the parents, if it is satisfied that the child is suffering significant harm or is likely to suffer significant harm.

Parents now have legal representatives appointed to support them, to ensure their views are heard and that evidence put forward can be challenged. In addition, NHS maternity services now have robust policy guidance and processes in place to safeguard care for vulnerable women and babies.

A range of help and support is available for those affected by historical adoption practices. For example, they can access intermediary services, provided by local authorities, voluntary adoption agencies and registered adoption agencies, to help them trace their birth children or birth parents and establish whether contact is possible. Birth relatives and adopted adults can also add their details to the Adoption Contact Register at the General Register Office to find a birth relative or an adopted person.

We recognise that none of the above can change the heartbreak and impact of things done in the past and repeat again our deepest sympathy for all those affected.

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