FAQ’s from Adopted People
How can I find out about my birth family (or ‘natural family’ as they are sometimes called?)
Possible sources of information:
- Your adoptive parents.
- The agency which arranged your adoption (unless it was a private adoption).
- Your original birth certificate.
How do I get my original birth certificate?
If you are 18 years or more, apply to Office for National Statistics
General Register Office
Can I have information if I am younger than 18?
The law enables adults of 18 and over to have access to their birth records. For those under 18 it may still be possible to have some information… ask your adopters or the agency, which arranged your adoption.
Must I tell my adopters?
It is possible to get the information without telling your parents. Remember, however, they may know something which could be really helpful; they may be able to help and support you; and having a big secret can sometimes become rather complicated.
Do I have to see a counsellor?
It depends on the date of your adoption:
- Before 12th November 1975 – you are required to see a counsellor.
- On or after 12th November 1975 – you can choose whether or not to see a counsellor.
Some people find the title ‘counsellor’ rather off-putting. It simply refers to the specialist social worker from the adoption agency whose task it is to talk to you about the information you want and the possible implications of having it. Many people find it helpful to talk to an ‘outsider’ about things before they decide whether they want to take things any further.
Do many adopted people want to know?
Yes. Many feel a deep need to know where they came from originally, irrespective of their love for their adoptive families.
Will I ever be asked to produce my original birth certificate, e.g. if I apply for a passport?
Your original birth certificate is for your own use and information. For some people it is the starting point of a search for their birth family. For all official purposes. e.g. getting married or applying for a passport, your adoption certificate is required; this is sometimes known as your birth certificate and it shows the name given to you by your adoptive parents as well as their names.
Is it possible to find out WHY I was adopted?
Yes. It may be especially if you were placed by an agency. Since agencies have been required to keep records for 100 years: some hold them from the time they opened.
Is it possible to get my birth family’s medical history?
It may be possible although medical information on old records is quite often limited.
How can I find out if I have any brothers and sisters?
- Ask the adoption agency which arranged your adoption if they have any record of your brothers or sisters.
- Your adoptive parents may know if your birth parents had older children.
- Once you know your birth mother’s name, it may be possible to check the index of births to see whether she has had other children. You may need to check the index of marriages and then subsequent births in her married name.
Will anyone tell me who my birth father is?
He may be named on your birth certificate though most adopted people’s certificates have the name of the birth mother only.
People who may be able to tell you more are:
- Your adopters.
- Your birth mother.
- The agency which arranged your adoption.
Can my birth parents find me? How would I know if they wanted to find me?
At present the law does not give similar rights to access to information: they will not be told your full name and so it would be extremely difficult for them to know where to start searching. Some adoption agencies help birth relatives by contacting adopted people or their adoptive families to inform them if a birth relative is enquiring.
The Registrar General has an Adoption Contact Register where adopted adults and their birth relatives can register if they have an interest in establishing contact. More information about this is available by clicking here.