Researching Adopted Persons in England & Wales
This is intended as a guide for people who are researching adopted persons.
Adoption was first legalised over eighty years ago. There was no formal adoption process prior to 1927, when 'adoption' was primarily a private arrangement. It is, therefore, unlikely that documentary evidence, if there was any, can be located.
The General Register Office (GRO) holds the Adopted Children's Register, which records legal adoptions through a court in England or Wales under the Adoptions Acts since 1927.
For events registered in Scotland or Northern Ireland you should contact the relevant General Register Office.
The Register is not open to public search or inspection; however, adopted persons aged 18 and over can apply for their original birth registration form.
If you were adopted before 1975 you will need to attend an informal meeting with an adoption advisor.
If you were adopted after 1975 you may request a meeting with an adoption advisor or receive the information directly.
A comprehensive booklet, Services for adopted adults who want to trace birth relatives Adoption outlining the procedures can be obtained by writing to:
P O Box 5050
Telephone: 0845 60 222 60
Please quote reference: 2033-2005POS-EN
All forms relating to applications can be downloaded in English or Welsh from www.direct.gov.uk alternatively telephone 0151 471 4830
Trying to make contact
In 1991 the Government created the Adoption Contact Register which puts adopted people and their birth relatives in touch with each other, if that is what they both wish. If you are 18 or over you may choose to be entered on the Contact Register, likewise birth relatives of an adopted person can also apply to be entered on the Contact Register. The current fee is £15 for the adoptee and £30 for a birth relative.
Further details and forms are available on the website www.direct.gov.uk
Adoption Search Reunion
The website is intended to be the first port of call for anyone thinking about searching for or making contact with birth and adopted relations or researching an adoption that took place in the UK
The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA)
There are members of AGRA who specialise in the research of adopted persons.
For details please visit www.agra.org.uk
or write to:
43 Bowes Wood,
New Ash Green,
Barnardo's Family History Service
If you have a relative you believe was in the care of Barnardo's during their childhood, the Barnardo's Family History service may have records and images that will help you in researching your family history. The oldest records available date from the 1870's.
A basic search of records to determine whether or not your relative was a 'Barnardo's boy or girl' and if there is a record of their time with Barnardo's is available for a non-refundable fee of £15.
An enquiry form can de downloaded from www.barnardos.org.uk and should be sent with payment to:
Barnardo's Family History Service
Essex. IG6 1QG
It should be noted that Barnardo's did not operate an Adoption Agency until 1947. For further enquiries regarding adoption records please contact the service at the above address or send an email to:
This is only a brief resume of what The Federation of Family History Societies believes to be the current position with regard to researching adopted persons in England & Wales. There is no intention that the statements, information, opinions, recommendations and views contained in this article are to provide or constitute in any way legal advice to anyone reading it.