Historical adoption

Information about an online questionnaire we have developed to invite views from anyone who has been affected by historical adoption in Scotland.

Historical adoption

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, 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 own personal stories and explain how it has affected their lives. We now want to open this conversation up more widely to hear from more people affected and to ensure they are able to access support.

Historical adoption questionnaire

The online questionnaire has now closed.

Children’s Minister Clare Haughey said:

“Our webpage and questionnaire was set up so those affected by this heart-breaking issue could share their views and insights. Since then, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have come forward to give moving accounts of their experiences. I do not underestimate how painful this may have been and the courage it must have taken. I’d like to thank all those who have contributed.

“Their feedback will be considered carefully. It will help us to understand what support is needed to help these families and I hope we can work together to explore next steps.

“In the meantime, we have started the process of establishing specialist support and peer support groups for those affected.”

All responses received have been anonymised. Where personal data was received by email or letter, only the information required to inform the Minister has been extracted. Personal data which can identify an individual has been deleted as it is not necessary for our purpose. 

The Scottish Government privacy policy tells you how we collect and process your data.

We will collate the information received in the questionnaires, emails or letters to compile a report for the Minister with a view to continuing a collaborative approach with people affected.


We understand that experiences with historical adoption are sensitive and can be upsetting.  For some, who may have experienced trauma, the impacts can be long term.

Listed below are some national support organisations that can help (although this list is not comprehensive)

Breathing Space

Phone and speak to a Breathing Space advisor on 0800 83 85 87

Breathing Space availability

  • 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday - 6am Monday).
  • 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday - Thursday).

NHS Education for Scotland Wellbeing


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Back to top