The United Church of Canada has been named in a class-action lawsuit regarding forced adoptions and abuse at several of the maternity homes it ran from the 1920s to the 1980s. Since 2010, the United Church has been listening, learning, and reflecting on its involvement in its maternity homes and the practice of pressured or forced adoptions. The church issued an apology in 2020.
The church recognizes the pain and suffering that was experienced by mothers who were pressured or forced to give up their babies. While we understand that the social mores of the time contributed to a sense that these homes and the practice of pressured or forced adoption was in children’s best interest, and that the intent of those who supported these homes was generally good, we now know that the actual consequences of these homes were often harmful. The church is committed to continuing to listen to the experiences of those at the homes.
With respect to the sensitive questions of records related to these homes, there are issues of both privacy and access that need to be considered. Adoption records are primarily held by provincial and territorial government bodies, and so access to those records is governed by the legislation of each province or territory. United Church archival records can be accessed through the archives collection in Toronto, either in-person (by appointment) or through digital requests. Permission to access these records is guided by United Church Archives policy on access to archival records on adoption.