Recent news stories, primarily published in the National Post, have focused on concerns being raised by women who were sent as teenagers to maternity homes for unwed mothers. Some of these homes were operated by churches, including The United Church of Canada.
The stories told by these women are very disturbing. They describe how, as young girls in these maternity homes, they were told they had no choice but to put their babies up for adoption. They were often not allowed to see their babies after they were born, and were forced to sign adoption papers. Many of these mothers are now calling for a national inquiry similar to the one recently held in Australia. Others are launching class-action lawsuits.
The United Church of Canada is actively trying to reach out to any women who attended maternity homes operated by the United Church.
"The United Church of Canada is committed to hearing the stories of women and others affected by forced adoption," says the Rev. Bruce Gregersen, General Council Officer, Programs.
Gregersen says the United Church has also begun an extensive review of its archival records. In addition to work being done by its own archives staff, the church is hiring a contract researcher to gather and document as full and complete a picture as possible of United Church–related maternity homes, including information about their history, statistics, staffing, funding, adoption policies and practices, treatment and activities of the women, and interaction between the church and other agencies.
"We believe this research will not only help us determine the church's role in this story, but will also provide much-needed information for women seeking access to historic records that may be housed in our archives across Canada," says Gregersen.
He also notes that the United Church is currently in conversation with the following support groups that have contacted the church's national office: Origins Canada, Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, Forget Me Not Family Society (Adoption Circles), and Parent Finders Canada.
Gregersen says the church has asked these organizations to communicate to their members the church's willingness to assist those affected by forced adoptions.
"We are reaching out in this way not only to assist in telling this very painful story, but also to help us focus our research," says Gregersen.
Individuals who wish to contact the United Church directly can do so by using the dedicated My Story e-mail address.
For more information, please contact
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