Somerset woman forcibly adopted calls for government apology

Posted: 30th March 2023

A woman who was forcibly adopted at seven days old in 1971 has asked the government for an apology.

Vicki Fielder from Over Stowey, Somerset, says her mother was forced to give her up because she was unmarried.

An estimated 250,000 women were affected by the practice of of forced adoptions in Britain in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Now 51 years-old, Vicki is campaigning for an apology for those mothers and for the children like herself.

Vicki, who is a member of the Adult Adoptee Movement, a support group campaigning for a formal apology, has been sharing her story with BBC Radio Somerset.

Born in Enfield, London, she stayed with her mother for a week in hospital before she was adopted and brought to Somerset.

She said: “We were fed a line like ‘your mother couldn’t look after you, she did what was best for you’.

“You’re not given that opportunity to really grieve.

“It’s a huge loss for a child, even for a baby.”

‘Hit me hard’

Vicki began searching for her birth mother after becoming a mum herself. Although her adoptive parents shared all they knew about Vicki’s birth mother as she grew up, the details were patchy.

“Like a lot of adoptees it really came to the fore when I had children and when I had my daughter. When she was seven days old, it really hit me hard,” she said.

“It was the first time I ever met someone that I was biologically related to when I gave birth to her. So then I started thinking about my birth mother and about how I would search for her.”

In 2004 Vicki was finally able to uncover what had happened to her mother, she explained: “I had two hits from [a genealogy website] and straight away one of them got back to me and said ‘I know exactly who you are, can I phone you?

“Then she told me that unfortunately my mother had passed away in 1992.

“She was only 38 and it was directly because of having to give me up.”

Vicki also discovered her mother was one of nine children and had had a ”hard” life.

“To be told you can’t bring your baby home and you have to give your baby away, I mean that’s just a horrible thing to do. She was 18 years old,” she said.

“As far as I am concerned she was a child but the prevailing societal pressures of the time meant that these women weren’t given an opportunity to raise their children.

“We weren’t given an opportunity to be raised by our mothers.”

Vicki was also able to trace her birth father living in Jamaica and was told she had a half-sister called Angelique, who was raised by her mother and stepfather, and two half-brothers.

She now visits her sister once a month and calls her brothers every week.

A report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in Westminster, published in 2022, said 185,000 women in the 1950s, 60s and 70s were “shamed” and “coerced” into giving up their babies and they should be given an apology.

Earlier this month the government in its response said sorry ”on behalf of society” but stopped short of a formal apology.

Chair of the JCHR, Joanna Cherry said: “It is disappointing that the government has chosen not to issue a formal apology in recognition of the appalling treatment that unmarried mothers suffered during that time, and the lifelong consequences this had on them, on their children now grown and all those involved.”

For Vicki and the thousands of other forced adoptees and mothers separated from their children the wait for a formal apology continues.

Source: Somerset woman forcibly adopted calls for government apology – BBC News

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