Recognizing a painful part of our history as a church.

The United Church of Canada apologizes for our participation in the separation of mothers from their children. Our role in pressured, coerced, or forced adoptions created a legacy of pain and suffering. We helped create a culture of shame.

We express our regret for our part in denying mothers their right to love and care for their children. We denied mothers the care and support they needed and deserved. We apologize to the women who were not informed of their rights, and consequently could not provide informed consent. We recognize that many have suffered long-term harm from these actions. We have heard your stories of grief and deep loss. We have heard how you lived with shame and stigma placed on you by the church and society. We are truly sorry.

The children who were adopted were not given the opportunity to know their family and community of origin. Some were misled or lied to about the circumstances of their birth. We apologize to those of you who struggle to find a sense of identity and belonging, to those of you who feel torn between two families and communities, to those of you who live with a sense of uncertainty within yourselves.

We regret that as a church we have, too often, neglected the message of our faith: that our bodies and our sexuality are part of the goodness of creation. In our zeal to uphold a rigid system of morality, we helped to shape and spread a shame-based code with regard to sexuality, which ignored the much more important call of our faith to create communities in which every member is welcomed and valued. We told women that having children outside of marriage was a sin. We supported the removal of children from their mothers and from the communities which could have given them dignity and support.

We recognize that these practices also affected fathers, excluded from their children’s lives. We acknowledge the hurt caused to brothers and sisters, grandparents, partners, and members of extended families who have shared in the pain of their loved ones.

Regretting our past history of shaming women, The United Church of Canada commits:

  • to examine and challenge all beliefs that promote the shaming of any person;
  • to change our language and practices to better honour the dignity and worth of each human being;
  • to support and celebrate all families that create safety, love, and opportunity for their members;
  • to uphold the values of truth and to openness and encourage healing and reconciliation for everyone affected by adoption.

The United Church of Canada sincerely apologizes for our regretful and damaging role in pressured, coerced, or forced adoptions.

Public Acknowledgement of the Adoption Apology

Recognizing the painful part of our history as a church, a public service of grief and lamentation was developed to confess and apologize for the actions of The United Church of Canada that led to separation and shame. An online service was held on May 9, 2021 (Mother’s Day), in which The Right Reverend Richard Bott, Moderator, offered the apology to all those affected by forced adoption practices.