Historical adoption: peer support opportunities

An overview of opportunities for peer support for those affected by historical adoption in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.


Sadly, we know that there were practices in place in Scotland around the time of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s which resulted in new-born babies being unnecessarily taken away from unmarried mothers and placed for adoption, without any regard to the mothers’ and children’s own needs or wishes. People who experienced this have reported the long-lasting impacts on their health and wellbeing.

In June 2021, the First Minister made a commitment to fully consider the issue of historical adoption practices in Scotland. The Minister for Children and Young People, Clare Haughey MSP, is grateful to have had the opportunity to hear from women, sons and daughters across the country who have taken the time to share their personal stories and explain how it has affected their lives.

One of the recommendations that we have received from the people we have engaged with, is to provide funding for peer support to assist people affected by historical adoption practices by facilitating opportunities for networking and providing therapeutic activities.

On 6 March, funding was announced for the implementation of a peer support group for people affected by historical adoption practices.

What is peer support?

Peer support groups are typically run and facilitated by people who have lived experience. The types of approaches that may be used are regular group meetings, online forums and information sharing. Members can create a connection through their shared experiences and can relate to each other’s story in a unique way that they feel counsellors and other trained professionals are not able to do.

Health in Mind

We are very keen to explore what peer support should look like for people who have been affected by historical adoption practices and how this might best work for you. 

In order to do this, we are collaborating with Health in Mind, who have experience of similar models of working. However, we do not want to assume that we can arrive at a ready-made solution. We want to ensure that we are developing a response and proposal which is as person-centred, and as peer-led as possible.

Our approach to this project is to build on the strengths and experience of those who are already engaged, and include anyone else who might be interested in joining the discussion to help shape the support group. We want to hear from you on what the group should look like, how it should operate and what its aims should be.

This will allow Health in Mind to begin to build an ongoing relationship of trust and mutual respect, which can then underpin the more detailed shape of developmental work in this area.

Next steps

We plan to hold an online meeting on MS Teams at 4pm on Wednesday 20 July. The meeting will include representatives from Health in Mind and mothers affected by historical adoption practices who would like to be involved in the support group.

How to get involved

If you would like to attend the meeting or would like to provide some insight from your experience of peer support, please email your details to the following address by Tuesday 19 July - historicaladoption@gov.scot.

Please be reassured that participants will not be expected to share their own experiences of historical adoption practices at this meeting. 

Participants do not need any prior knowledge of peer support groups. They will be offered the chance to contribute to the development of the group and the opportunity to undertake bespoke training.

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