If you are an adopted adult and live in one of our five Local Authorities (Cheshire East, Manchester, Salford, Stockport, and Trafford) we can help you find out more about your birth family history.
This will involve supporting you to access your adoption records and providing information and advice about organisations that can help you to trace members of your birth family, if you make the decision to do so.
Please note: If you were adopted within the Adoption Counts Consortium but are currently living outside of the region, you should seek advice from your current local authority or regional adoption agency who can further support your search.
You can begin the search for your birth information and access to your adoption records from the time you turn 18 years of age.
Before contacting us, it would be useful for you to apply to the General Register Office (GRO) to request your birth information, if you do not already have it. The GRO will send all relevant information to your local adoption agency, who you will then be advised to contact.
What will my Birth Information Include?
Your birth information will include all the details recorded on your original birth certificate. This could include your birth name, place of birth and birth parents’ names (where recorded). The GRO will also provide details regarding your adoption, including the date your adoption order was granted. We also recommend that if you do not know the name of the court where the adoption order was made, or the name of the agency involved in your adoption, then you should contact the GRO who may hold these details before contacting the local authority.
Accessing my Birth Information
Should Adoption Counts be identified as the appropriate agency you can contact us via completing this online form.
You were adopted prior to 12th November 1975
If you were adopted prior to 12th November 1975, you will be required to attend a counselling meeting with a member of our post adoption support team prior to you receiving you birth information. This is a session where we can discuss the motivation for your search and ensure that you have access to the appropriate support. Your birth information will usually be shared with you at this meeting by a post adoption support social worker.
You were adopted after 12th November 1975
If you were adopted after 12th November 1975, whilst you will not be required to attend a counselling meeting, this is still available to you and we would still recommend attending a meeting with a member of our post adoption support team who can advise you on the process of searching for your records and provide you with your birth information.
You were adopted after 30th December 2005
If you were adopted after 30th December 2005, this is also called “post commencement” adoption. There is different legislation relevant to accessing your records. Please contact our Access To Records team to discuss how we can support you.
How will I be provided with my birth information?
Currently these meetings are being held virtually usually via Microsoft Teams, although, for those who may not have access to this platform, we will endeavour to accommodate wherever possible. In preparation for this meeting, we will ask for photographic proof of the identity of the adopted person to ensure confidentiality, for example, a passport or driving licence and evidence of their address, before providing any information.
At the conclusion of the above meeting, you will be provided with documents that will enable you to request a copy of your original birth certificate. You will also be provided with advice on how to place your details on the Adoption Contact Register should you choose to do so.
Accessing my adoption records
Should you wish to progress your search to a full ‘access to adoption records request’, this will begin following you being provided with your birth information.
*It should be noted that this process relates to access to adoption records only. Should you wish to access your care records, for example, from when you were placed with foster carers or residential placements, you will need to contact your Local Authority and make a Subject Access Request for this information.
A post adoption support social worker will be allocated to your case where they will use the details provided by the GRO to contact the appropriate agency to gain access to your records.
Please be advised, that due to the volume of requests for this service, as well as the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic in accessing archived records, this process may take 6-12 months.
What will my Adoption Records contain?
Adoption records vary in size and volume. Generally, files contain information about the circumstances of your adoption, including medical and health matters. They may possibly also contain letters or photographs, or other items.
Some records may not always be written sensitively and can be upsetting. Archived adoption records may have been compiled when standards of recording and retention of information were different to those which apply today. The professionals involved in your adoption, as well as your birth family may not have expected you to have access to the files. You might find that the language used, and prevailing values expressed reflect the period in which the file was created and might not be acceptable today.
Your post adoption support social worker will provide you with any information in a sensitive manner. They will be able to explain further how adoption law and practice have changed considerably over the years and will be able to explain the significance of these changes.
We usually give you a copy of your file notes to take away with you. We will give you any original photographs, letters from birth relatives or certificates, but we will always keep a copy on the file. We may need to redact some of the information that is held in your records. You will not be able to see information about other people, which may be held on your file. This could include reports on your adopters or medical reports that are not about you.
What if my adoption records cannot be located?
Unfortunately, in some cases adoption records may have been lost or destroyed. Equally, information held on files may be illegible due to documents corroding over time. Your post adoption support social worker will update you on the progress of your request and will advise you should this be the case. An application can be made directly to the Court involved in your adoption should all other searches return no results.
Tracing and Intermediary Services
Once you have received your adoption records and have more information regarding the circumstances of your adoption and your birth family, you may wish to make contact with them.
Adoption Counts does not offer a tracing and intermediary service, however there are independent organisations that may be able to support you in this area.
https://www.familyconnect.org.uk is a website that offers up-to-date information about services that can help you look at tracing your relatives, and advice and information about meeting with them, should you wish to do so
The below booklet also offers guidance about tracing family members and provides contact details for agencies that offer intermediary services:
Whilst these agencies will charge for their service, they are recommended when attempting to contact birth family to ensure all parties including the adopted adult and the birth family are supported within this process.
What if I don’t want contact with my birth family?
Since 30 December 2005 adopted adults and their adult birth relatives have been able formally to register a Veto, this is a wish for no contact, and adopted adults have also been able formally to register their wish for contact with, or no contact with, specific adult birth relatives. A wish for contact or no contact can be changed at any time by notifying the Registrar General. A fee will be charged by the Registrar General to register on the Adoption Contact Register or to amend that registration.