Nicola Sturgeon has issued a “sincere, heartfelt and unreserved apology” to all those impacted by the historical practice of forced adoption.
The first minister said it was “relatively common” in Scotland until the late 1970s.
Tens of thousands of women – many of whom were unmarried – are believed to have been made to give up their babies throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
‘We can acknowledge the terrible wrongs that were done’
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon fought back tears as she issued a formal apology over “the terrible wrongs that were done”.
In one of her final acts as first minister, she said: “So today, as first minister, on behalf of the Scottish government, I say directly to the mothers who had their babies taken away from them, to the sons and the daughters who were separated from their parents, to the fathers who were denied their rights and to families who have lived with this legacy: for the decades of pain that you have suffered, I offer today a sincere, heartfelt and unreserved apology.
“We are sorry.
“No words can ever make up for what has happened to you, but I hope this apology will bring you some measure of solace.”
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‘The horror of what happened to these women is almost impossible to comprehend’
Ms Sturgeon detailed the stories of three women who had their babies taken away to be adopted by other families.
“The horror of what happened to these women is almost impossible to comprehend,” she said.
“It is the stuff of nightmares, yet these were not isolated cases – far from it.”
Addressing MSPs in the Holyrood chamber as victims and campaigners watched on from the public gallery, Ms Sturgeon said mothers were “lied to” and made to “feel worthless”.
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Sky’s Beth Rigby spoke to Nicola Sturgeon earlier this week ‘Some women were never even allowed to hold their babies’
She added: “Some women were never even allowed to hold their babies, most never got the chance to say goodbye, and many were threatened with terrible consequences if they ever tried to make contact with a child.”
Some children forcibly removed from their parents were abused, the first minister claimed.
She added: “It is important to say very clearly that many of them went to loving homes – acknowledging these injustices should never be seen as a rejection of the deep bonds that people share with adopted families.
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“Nothing can ever invalidate the love that these families have for one another. But it is also clear that many of those affected – far too many – had a very, very different experience.
“We know some will always have lacked a sense of belonging, some may have suffered mistreatment or abuse.
“And all of them will have grown up believing that their mother chose to put them up for adoption of their own free will.
“Understandably, that has affected them – and yet it was never true.”