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The Role of Salvation Army in Shameful Forced Post-Second World War Adoptions

December 23, 2018



The Salvation Army remains active in the adoption industry today. Photo: Salvation Army

 

July 19, 2018: “‘Shameful period in Canada’s history’: Report released on forced post-Second World War adoptions”

Excerpt:

“On Thursday, the committee released a report titled “The Shame Is Ours” detailing Canada’s post-Second World War adoption mandate. It is estimated that more than 350,000 mothers were affected by agency policies and the “common practice” of forcing unwed mothers into maternity homes and coercing them to give up their babies.

 

In a press conference Thursday, committee chair Art Eggleton called it “another Scoop,” referring to the Sixties Scoop in which Indigenous children were separated from their parents. Eggleton said that nearly 600,000 infants were born to unwed mothers and recorded as “illegitimate births” between 1945 and 1971, though the committee does not know the exact number of forced adoptions due to “prevailing secrecy.” Some of the institutions that carried out the policies no longer exist. But the committee heard evidence during hearings that as many as 95 per cent of unwed mothers in maternity homes surrendered their babies to adoption, compared to two per cent today.

“It has led to lasting and life-altering psychological distress for both the mothers and adoptees,” said Eggleton.

 

July, 2018, Canada: “THE SHAME IS OURS: FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA”:

“The committee heard from witnesses who have an in-depth knowledge of historical Canadian adoption practices and they affirmed the accounts that members heard from mothers and adoptees. Young, unmarried mothers who found themselves without financial means or the support of family found their way to church-run maternity homes for unwed mothers, after seeking help from family, friends or their churches. Catholic, United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches as well as the Salvation Army, operated such homes. Members were told that in some instances a fee was requested from the young woman or her family to be cared for at the home. In all cases, it appears that the facilities implemented strict schedules for the residents. The women were required to perform assigned chores, attend “classes” that prepared them for domestic tasks, rather than help to further their education, and participate in religious services. However, the strict schedules were not intended as a structured and regimented environment. Rather, the young women were described as being treated more like prisoners. Some homes had bars on the windows and the movement of residents was strictly controlled. They were often not allowed to use their surnames, only first names, and were not permitted to speak to each other about their own circumstances. Committee members were told that these young women were often subjected to shaming and abuse by the nurses, sisters, social workers, matrons and church leaders. They were told they had no value, they were societal outcasts, they had sinned and deserved the treatment they were getting, and that, in fact, they must be psychologically unwell and unfit since they got pregnant in the first place.

Members acknowledge that some work has been done in this regard. The maternity homes for unmarried mothers were run in Canada by several churches, including Catholic, United, Anglican, Presbyterian and the Salvation Army. Members heard that only the United Church of Canada has studied its role in the forced adoptions of post-war Canada. Among the witnesses who appeared during the committee’s study, the United Church was the only religious organization willing to attend….

The committee was told that while other churches have listened to the concerns of individuals and organizations about the forced adoption practices, they have not reacted with apologies or concrete actions. In this respect the committee acknowledges the written submission from the Salvation Army which describes the services offered by the organization and the adoption policies in Ontario from 1940 to 1980. In describing its role and response to the forced adoptions in post-war Canada, the organization stated that it “regrets the prejudices and harsh attitudes” of the time and that it “never supported the deliberate breaking of… the bond between a mother and a child”.”

Report:

THE SHAME IS OURS FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA

Britain: June 10, 2018: Sixty years after half a million British babies were forcibly removed, calls for decades of pain to be recognised

“More than half a million children were given up for adoption at a time when “unmarried mothers” were often rejected by their families and ostracised by society. Adoptions were generally handled through agencies run by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church and the Salvation Army.”

Article:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/10/mps-demand-apology-for-unmarried-mothers-forced-to-give-up-children

Sydney, March 1, 2012: Stories from the mothers who had their babies taken away. Here is a selection of women explaining just what it was like for a young Australian girl or woman in the 1950s-mid 1970s facing pregnancy as an unwed mother.”

“About 150,000 babies were put up for adoption in Australia during 1951-1975, the large majority from single, unwed girls and women. The practice of “forced adoptions”  involving coercion and institutional policies that encouraged babies to be taken away from their mothers, has been the focus for a Senate committee for the past 18 months. Yesterday the Community Affairs committee tabled it’s final report, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, to the Senate yesterday.”

 

https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/03/01/forced-adoption-stories-from-the-mothers-who-had-their-babies-taken-away/