Posted: Wed 26th Apr 2023

Former MP from Flintshire shares forced adoption heartbreak as Wales says sorry

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 26th, 2023

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A former MP from Flintshire, along with a group of individuals impacted by the historical practice of forced adoption, were at the Senedd today to hear the Welsh Government issue an official apology.

The apology recognised the societal failures that led to the heartbreaking historical practices and acknowledged the lifelong impact on those affected.

This move followed the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ recommendations after an inquiry into the experiences of unmarried women and their children adopted between 1949 and 1976 in England and Wales.

Forced adoption practices predate devolution in Wales, leaving a lasting legacy on those who experienced them.

Deputy Minister Julie Morgan delivered the apology in the Senedd chamber before meeting with affected individuals.

She said: “I know the effects of forced adoption and forced family separation are still very much part of the lives of the many people involved.

“The impacts are diverse and long-lasting, not only for the women separated from a child by adoption but also for the adult sons and daughters who were adopted as babies, and their extended family members.

“I want to acknowledge the fathers’ experiences when it comes to these historical practices too.

“Many still find it extremely difficult to open up and talk about the lifelong heartbreak they have bottled up for fear of still being judged.

“The feelings of loss, grief, anger, and pain remain.

“Regardless of the societal pressures or social norms of the day, such cruelty should never be an acceptable part of our society in Wales.

“I would like to convey my deepest sympathy and regret to all affected that due to society failing you, you had to endure such appalling historical practices in Wales – for this, the whole of the Welsh Government is truly sorry.”

Former Labour Health Minister and MP for Brentford and Isleworth, Ann Keen attended the Senedd today.

Hawarden-born Ann Keen was 17 when she became pregnant by a married salesman.

Her horrified parents sent her away to give birth, forcing her to hand over her child for adoption.

During the birth of her son, hospital staff treated her with contempt and denied her pain relief, leaving her in excruciating pain.

She was not allowed to see her son, and he was taken away for adoption without her knowledge or consent.

She never fully recovered from the trauma of the adoption and struggled with feelings of unworthiness throughout her life.

Despite her pain, she went on to become a nurse, a Member of Parliament, and eventually a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health Services.

Anne’s son found her 27 years after the adoption, and they have a loving relationship.

She said, “Today is so important to me and my son. I was always told his adoption was ‘for the best’. Sadly, this was not the case.

“It was horrible, shameful, and left me grieving and feeling unable to talk to anyone. I was forced to live a life that remained a secret.

“I made the decision to become a registered nurse to provide the sort of dignity and social justice to patients that was denied to me when I was at my most vulnerable.”

Anne said: “I later had the privilege of being elected a Labour MP and a Health Minister, but the feeling of deep shame has stayed with me. I later experienced so much joy when I was reunited with my wonderful son.

“Today, as a Welsh woman sitting in the Welsh Parliament, not far from where my son was born in Swansea, I feel empowered and that my name has been cleared. I did not ‘give him up’. He was taken from me.”

Julie Morgan added: “We cannot change what has happened, but I can provide assurances that adoption legislation and practices have been significantly strengthened since.

“We are already working alongside the National Adoption Service to consider the issues outlined within the Joint Committee’s report and develop support services which will address the specific needs of those affected by forced adoption and forced family separation.

“As we face future challenges, we will remember the lessons of family separation and will have due regard to continuing to protect the fundamental rights of children and the importance of their right to be cared for by a parent.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Social Services, Gareth Davies MS, expressed support for the apology, stating, “Many who underwent adoption practices weren’t informed of any legal rights to look after their children themselves or provided with the help they needed to do so. We must never let this situation occur again and must support those impacted.”

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