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Unspoken: The Silent Truth Behind My Lifelong Trauma as a Forced Adoptee (Stolen Lives)

Liz Harvie with Eve Hatton

“I was two when the woman I called Mummy told me, ‘You came out of another mummy’s tummy.’ I grew up thinking that my birth mother didn’t want me. I assumed there must’ve been something inherently wrong with me – why else would a mother give up her baby?”

In 1974, Liz Harvie – born Claire Elaine Watts – was given up for adoption by her birth mother Yvonne. Claire was just eight weeks old when her adoptive parents took her in – and renamed her Elizabeth. 

Although brought up in a ‘perfect’ household, the emotional – and physical – trauma of being taken from her biological mother would never leave Liz. She constantly wondered: what does my real mum look like? Will she come back for me? Why did she abandon me? But whenever Liz voiced such questions, she invariably received the same response: “Your birth parents were not married. They couldn’t look after you.”

Years later, aged twenty-eight, Liz reconnected with her birth mother – and finally learned the shocking truth surrounding her adoption. Yvonne had not abandoned her daughter. A social worker had snatched her ten-day-old baby from her arms. “I didn’t even get a final cuddle. She just took her away from me,” says Yvonne. 

Liz became one of 185,000 victims of forced adoption between 1949 and 1976 in England and Wales. As a young unmarried mum, Yvonne was deemed unfit as a parent by the government, churches, adoption agencies and her father – and made to give up her child against her will.


Although reunited, Liz and Yvonne are still struggling to cope with the agony resulting from their devastating separation. As Liz says, “We can’t just skip hand in hand into the sunset. The trauma of being a forced adoptee is lifelong.”

Paperback | £9.99| 14 September 2023

ISBN:  9781837700462

Also available in ebook and audio

About the Author

Liz Harvie has appeared in several press articles, radio and television pieces and has featured in a BBC Documentary, If You Love Your Baby, on historical forced adoption. In 2022, Liz gave written and oral evidence when she spoke in parliament for the Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into Forced Adoption - the right to family life: adoption of children of unmarried women 1949-1976.

In May 2022, Liz and six other women formed The Adult Adoptee Movement, which aims to challenge attitudes to and change the narrative on adoption, campaigning to raise awareness of the lifelong trauma adoptees face and ensure appropriate support is available for all those involved.

Liz lives in Camberley, Surrey with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. She is an end of life and pastoral care companion volunteer at her local hospital and hospice.

Eve Hatton is the co-author of the bestselling Broken (Mardle Books, 2022)

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