Canada's largest Protestant church says it is researching what its role is amid claims by women who say that they were forced to give up their newborns for adoption at maternity wards including some run by the church.
The church issued a statement on Saturday, calling the stories which have primarily been published in the National Post "very disturbing."
The church says it is "actively trying to reach out" to any women who attended maternity homes it operated.
"The United Church of Canada is committed to hearing the stories of women and others affected by forced adoption," said the Rev. Burce Gregersen, General Council Officer, Programs.
He said its own staff is searching through its archives and it has also hired a researcher gather information about their maternity homes' history, statistics, staffing, funding, adoption policies and practices, treatment and activities of the women, and interaction between the church and other agencies.
"We believe this research will not only help us determine the church's role in this story, but will also provide much-needed information for women seeking access to historic records that may be housed in our archives across Canada," he said.
He said the church is in conversations with two support groups that have contacted the church's national office: Origins Canada and the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers.
He said the church has asked both groups to tell their members about the church's willingness to assist those affected by forced adoptions.
"We are reaching out in this way not only to assist in telling this very painful story, but also to help us focus our research, he said.