Policies and Practices in Canada



  • Mothers required to register with Children’s Aid Society prior to admission to “Home” – put on track to adoption; many mothers had to verbally agree to adoption prior to entering home
  • Mothers incarcerated (listed as inmates in Provincial records) in Maternity Homes without court or other legal orders.
  • Names changed, clothing and some personal items removed
  • Movements severely restricted; mothers locked in at night
  • Visitors, mail, and telephone calls severely restricted and censored
  • Male visitors prohibited; including fathers of babies
  • Mothers exploited through unpaid daily labour
  • Mothers forced to attend church services, usually twice daily
  • Mothers groomed for shame, secrecy, and adoption
  • Mothers subjected to psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse (reports of some mothers in Catholic facilities being victims of sexual abuse when priests visited Maternity Home for confession and communion)
  • Staff consistently undermined Mothers’ ability to parent.  Suggested that mothers who wanted to “keep” their children were selfish, immature, or the “other kind of girl”
  • Mothers who expressed the desire to keep their babies were ostracized/ labelled/ bullied by staff
  • Mothers indoctrinated with constant reinforcement that “redemption” would be achieved by the surrender of their child
  • Little or no recreational entertainment
  • Mothers routinely dropped off  at hospital admitting by Maternity Home staffs; left to labour alone with little or no instruction about labour and delivery


  • Unmarried mothers segregated from married mothers
    Mothers given extensive “venereal disease” testing without their consentMothers verbally, physically and psychologically abused; shamed
  • Mothers left to labour alone – punitive harsh hospital treatment to prevent repeat behaviour
  • Babies taken directly from delivery tables before third stage of labour completed – mothers never to see or hold them (before any signatures for termination of parental rights)
  • Mothers restrained by the use of restraints on delivery tables
  • Some mothers not told (and do not know to this day) the gender of the baby they delivered
  • Mothers forbidden eye contact with their babies by the use of sheets, pillows, adjusting of delivery room mirrors, and others means
  • Mothers screaming for their babies
  • Mothers prevented from seeing, holding or feeding their babies in Canadian hospitals
  • Male babies routinely circumcised under direction of Children’s Aid Societies
  • Babies moved to remote locations to prevent mother/baby contact
  • Mothers told untruths about the location of their babies
  • Mothers given inappropriate psychotropic medications without consent; some creating “twilight sleep” and other drug induced impairment
  • Mothers given cancer causing (DES) lactation suppressants without their consent
  • Some mothers told their babies died, when in fact their babies were adopted, the truth revealed when person adopted sought reunion years later
  • Some mothers shown different babies by different nursery nurses then they requested to see their babies
  • Mothers medically abused – reports of doctors’ comments re “virginity”, “marking a girl for life”, and other similar reports
  • Mothers used for educating students…reports of mothers being physically examined during prenatal visits and during labour by multiple students at one time.



  • Mothers report systemic use of oppression, threats of incarceration, fear, duress, lies, trickery, and even physical force to obtain uninformed consents
  • Discrimination against caucasian mothers.  Non disclosure of  rights and resources to caucasian mothers, while providing resources to mothers of colour
  • Not advising mothers of severe long lasting psychological consequences of separation which was known at the time. (See “Mothers May Mourn a Lifetime”/Toronto Star attached)
  • Advising mothers to (quotes from mothers) “keep the secret”, that they were “unselfish”, that they “would forget about this baby”, that “you will be a real mother later”, that it would be like “losing a puppy”, “don’t tell your future husband”, “you are used goods now”, “if you tell, no man will marry you”, etc.
  • Mothers returned to the community immediately after birth, still recovering from childbirth, in shock and traumatized from the harsh treatment, and the loss of their baby, breasts bound tightly with breast binders to prevent lactation, told to “keep the secret”
  • No counselling whatsoever given to mothers.
  • Mothers constructed as uncaring “breeders” without a mothers’ heart or maternal instincts towards their child – constructed as mothers who did not want their child, or who would go on with life and forget about their child
  •  Mothers constructed as having made a choice, therefore becoming “the kind of woman who could give away her own child”
  • Records continue to be sealed in six provinces, preventing mothers from knowing the well-being of their sons or daughters or even if they were alive; and denying the possibility of healing reunions



Mothers of adoption loss –  respondents in Australia Study Using the Kessler Psychological Stress Scale shows the following:  Survey shows 30.7 % of mothers of adoption loss likely to have severe mental disorder as opposed to 4.4% of general population NHS females; and 61.5.% to have some kind of mental health disorder ranging from mild to serious compared to 20.5 % of general population NHS females.

                                                          NHS Female                        Survey Respondents

Likely to be well 79.6 38.5
Likely to have a mild disorder 10.6 15.5
Likely to have moderate mental disorder 5.5 15.3
Likely to have severe mental disorder 4.4 30.7

2001 National Health Survey, Australia

  • Mothers suffered (and continue to suffer) from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, many continue to experience repressed memories, Disenfranchised and Unresolved Grief, Major Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Substance Abuse, Suicide,  stress related physical ailments reported eg. Fibromyalgia, Migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome among others.
  • Affected persons adopted continue to suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Disenfranchised and Unresolved Grief, Attachment Disorders, Identity issues, gratitude issues, betrayal issues when searching,  relationship issues, low self esteem