Historic forced adoption - scoping study: final report

Research to scope the support needs of people affected by historic forced adoption in Scotland.

6. Other support needs


The findings in this report centre around three main overarching themes:

  • Search and reunion
  • Accessing records
  • Emotional support

However, throughout the study, other support needs outwith these categories were detailed by participants and are summarised in this chapter.

Memorial and commitment to the future

Some mothers advocated for creating a permanent national memorial to recognise the experiences of those affected by historic forced adoption, acknowledge their loss and represent a commitment to ensure similar cases will never happen again.

Financial assistance

Only one research participant suggested there should be direct financial compensation for people affected by historic forced adoption, but some others called for funding to be available so individuals can access the support they need. As noted in Chapter 3, this may include funding to help pay for any fees associated with accessing records or tracing their family members, or a contribution towards the cost of travelling to attend reunions with their family members, especially if that involves travelling a long distance within Scotland, the UK or overseas.

“Tracing my family is difficult and expensive online.” – Adoptee

“Where families live a distance away, financial support may be required to assist with the contact meetings.” – Stakeholder

As noted in Chapter 5, some interviewees called for funding to cover the cost of private counsellors and therapists to help with the emotional, psychological and mental health impact of historic forced adoption.


Access to information and education about the impact of adoption might help adoptees understand their feelings. A few adoptees suggested this, and one said they had adapted the NHS’s Survive and Thrive course for people affected by trauma to focus on the impact of adoption. This person found it beneficial to learn about the explanations behind their emotional and psychological problems, and believed this could also be helpful for other adoptees. Another adoptee also spoke about the benefits of being educated about their mental health.

“I think more education. If somebody was to say to me, right we are going to run a course on the effects of adoption on adult adoptees now, I'd totally be up for that, learning more about how it can affect me… One of the things I’ve learnt was that I am hyper-vigilant all the time. And it was just like, oh right that's why I'm like that. I think that would be helpful.” – Adoptee

Tick box

A few adoptees suggested incorporating a ‘tick box,’ which indicates if an individual is adopted, into systems and paperwork used by public services. This would alert professionals that the person they are working with may be affected by adoption trauma and help them support the person more effectively. It would also save the adoptee from repeating their story to multiple professionals and agencies.

“Every health appointment, every single health appointment. There must be a way of putting it onto their system. Do not ask these questions, it's just basic stuff.” – Adoptee

Chapter summary

Participants in the study requested other types of support and action, including financial aid, public education about the impact of adoption, and recognition of those affected by historic forced adoption through a national memorial.


Email: Joanna.Harrold@gov.scot

Back to top