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Breaking the Silence: Britain's Adoption Scandal

2016
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Cast

Director

Alice Perman

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Synopsis

In the three decades following the Second World War, half a million women had a child adopted - most were babies born to young unmarried mothers. Told in their own words, this documentary special in the Exposure strand featured the stories of some of the many thousands of women who were pressured by Church and State into giving up their babies for adoption. Decades later, the film reveals how young women were coerced, denied their rights to financial support and at times subjected to punishing and degrading treatment by the professionals who had a duty to protect them. The programme led the Archbishop of Westminster to issue an apology - for the first time - for the "hurt caused" by agencies acting in the name of the Catholic Church. The Church of England too expressed its "great regret" for the "great hurt" caused. The programme prompted a legal call for a public inquiry into historical adoption practices. On the morning following its broadcast, a delegation of birth parents, represented by lawyers from Bhatt Murphy and Matrix Chambers, submitted a formal request to the Home Secretary for a public inquiry. The documentary generated widespread news coverage in the broadsheet and tabloid press, including a double-page spread in the Daily Mirror. The film's contributors were interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Breakfast News, ITV National News bulletins, BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show and numerous other broadcast outlets. It trended on Twitter, its finding were reported in The Washington Post, and it prompted The Guardian to launch its own investigation into historical forced adoption practices. The film received strong reviews in The Daily Telegraph, The Times and Daily Mail, among many. According to the Daily Mail, the film "built to a devastating emotional pitch and delivered a seismic shock at the end...One tale of heartbreak makes moving television; the same tale repeated over and over becomes a national travesty."

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