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Those who suffered the trauma of a 50s adoption must be listened to | Letters

Like Professors Brid Featherstone and Anna Gupta (Letters, 20 January), I was concerned to read that the government is yet again encouraging increased numbers of adoptions. But it seems to me that the plight of so many children has changed little in these last 100 years. Parliament approved the UK’s first adoption legislation in 1926, but legal adoption was to be the brutal severance that it still is. In the late 1940s, adoption law was overhauled, addressing inheritance rules and placing obligations on local authorities, and then there was major reform in 1975.

When I was born in 1952, it was still both legal and commonplace for parents to pass their children on, permanently, into the guardianship of whoever they pleased. People even advertised their children in the newspapers! I for one was handed over to grow up among strangers, and everyone around me – including neighbours, policemen, the clergy and schoolteachers – ignored my plight, ignored the abuse I obviously suffered, and ignored my clearly neglected condition. And what was the Conservative party slogan for the 1951 general election? “Preserving our traditional way of life.” So from my perspective, the Conservatives have had their way. And here we are having the same old debate.
Alan Graham Robinson
Bjerreby, Denmark

I am 66 years old and I have never recovered from the harm that adoption did to me; I live with the trauma every day. In the 1950s your name was changed and your identity sealed, never to be revealed. I was supposed to be grateful to the devout and emotionally cruel couple who supposedly “chose me”. I did not want to call them mummy or daddy but was forced to. I was continually told how lucky I was, and any questions were immediately hushed for fear of upsetting the adults. I was bad blood in need of tight control so I did not stray like my mother.

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I have seen over the years how adoption has swung in and out of fashion, but what I haven’t seen is any recognition of the trauma experienced by the child when they are taken from their mother. Added to that, the trauma of never knowing what happened to you, why you were “given away” and who you really are is so cruel. When the law changed in the late 1970s it was still difficult to find anything out, and social workers had all the power. I eventually got my file, but most of it was blacked out or cut out for fear of upsetting third parties! What about me?

Speak and really listen to adopted adults and you will hear the truth. It might not be the truth you want to hear, but it is the only way that change for the better can be implemented.
Janice McKinley


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