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The Humanist aim must be to change society for the better but in the meantime to try to ease the difficulties of the present situation.

Kit Mouat, ‘Agnostics Adoption Bureau’ in The Humanist, May 1964

With these lines written in 1964, Kit Mouat was referring to the societal stigma still attached to unmarried mothers, to the inadequacies of sex education and contraceptive advice or availability, and to the specific difficulties faced by agnostic adoptive parents – and by those who wished their child to be adopted by someone who shared their own humanist convictions. From its tentative establishment as the Agnostics Adoption Bureau in 1963, the group worked closely with kindred and expert organisations, including the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child (now Gingerbread, founded by humanist Lettice Fisher in 1918), and the Standing Conference of Societies Registered for Adoption. With adoption services dominated by religious groups, many of which refused adoption to couples without a religious faith, the Agnostics Adoption Bureau (subsequently Agnostics Adoption Society, and later the Independent Adoption Society) met a clear need. Brought about in part by the experience of humanists Richard Doll and Joan Faulkner, the Society worked both to ‘ease the difficulties’ described by Mouat, and for the wider change which might improve society for all. It also became known for vital efforts in finding homes for children deemed ‘hard to place’ by authorities, including mixed race babies and those with special needs, working closely with other agencies to meet need.

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