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‘The Shame Is Ours’

The unwed pregnant women were sent to maternity homes in post-WWII Canada and forced to surrender their babies for adoption! Even they were not allowed to touch or feed their newborns! Some mothers were offered puppies so that they could forget their pain. The concerned authorities in Canada had followed this policy from 1940 to 1970 in order to save the unwed mothers from humiliation.
A Canadian woman recently revealed how she was forced to surrender her baby for adoption in post-WWII Canada in a heartbreaking testimony in front of the members of the Senate Committee on Social Affairs. In its report – titled ‘The Shame is Ours‘, the Committee clearly stated that the Justin Trudeau administration should apologise for this merciless policy adopted by the government after the WWII. Chair of the Committee Art Eggleton said that around 600,000 infants were born to unwed mothers and recorded as illegitimate births between 1945 and 1971. Meanwhile, he admitted that it was not possible for the Committee to know the exact number of forced adoptions because of “prevailing secrecy”.

According to the report, the unwed mothers were tortured at maternity homes and not allowed to contact their relatives. Some women were tied with the bed during the childbirth. “It has led to lasting and life-altering psychological distress for both the mothers and adoptees,” added Eggleton.
One woman described her life as a “silent hell” during the hearing, while another stressed that she was forced to sign adoption documents and was told the police would be called, if she refused to sign the papers.
The Committee explained the “social context” of the decades following the WWII that had prompted the government to adopt such a policy, saying that the then Canadian society – which used to consider the “traditional nuclear family” as the ideal – scorned unmarried women. The Committee also said that the “illegitimacy” of their children used to play a big role in the adoption mandate. However, it doesn’t justify the practice, insisted the Committee.

For her part, Director of non-profit group Origins Canada Valerie Andrews said: “Some Canadians might say, ‘Well, those were the times.’ The brutal and inhumane policies and practices perpetrated against the unmarried mother and her child in Canada cannot be diminished or erased through the implication that they were norms and mores of society at the time. To suggest so subjugates, devalues and silences those affected.
Andrews requested the Canadian government to follow the Committee’s advice, issue a formal apology to victims, establish an advisory group for the apology and provide consultation services to mothers and adoptees.

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