The birth and adoption of my son

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I was born and grew up in Scotland, but I have spent most of my adult life in Australia. My son, Stephen, was born in Edinburgh in 1970. I was nineteen and in my final year as a student at Edinburgh University when I discovered that I was pregnant. I tried to contact Stephen’s father, but was unsuccessful. My parents and siblings were all living overseas. At that time, in Scotland, private adoptions were still legal and I was a member of a church. Being unmarried and pregnant was considered by the church to be a sinful situation and I felt very guilty and responsible for my condition. Atonement for my sin could be obtained by allowing my child to be adopted by a respectable married couple, selected by the church. Being young and vulnerable and feeling inadequate and alone, I was persuaded to allow the church to arrange an adoption. My friends were studying psychology, medicine and childcare. Their knowledge and experience convinced me that my child would suffer if I tried to bring him up on my own. At that time people were very judgmental about illegitimate children and believed that they were likely to ‘go off the rails’. I knew that I had to put my child’s best interests first. There seemed to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that it would be irresponsible and selfish of me to consider raising him myself. There was no government payment to support single parent families and no access to appropriate childcare. I did not consider at the time that I was being forced, but, looking back, I realise that there was no one suggesting that my mothering would be of any value to my child and that I could not imagine a way of raising my son, which would provide him with a stable, supportive environment.


There have been enormous changes in attitudes since 1970 and there is now much more acceptance of single parent families.