Tracing and contacting birth relatives and adopted adults
If a birth relative of yours was adopted before 30 December 2005, you can ask an intermediary agency to trace and arrange contact with them. Adopted adults who were adopted before 30 December 2005 can do the same to find their own birth relatives.
Getting in contact with an intermediary agency
Intermediary services are provided by adoption agencies or adoption support agencies. You can find one near you by searching on the Adoption Search Reunion (ASR) website.
How the process works
When an intermediary agency locates a person they must ask them for their consent to tell the applicant their name and to have contact.
If they dont agree to have contact, the agency may still be able to share some information. This might include the persons domestic or family circumstances, or their general health and well-being. However, the agency will not reveal the persons name or their whereabouts.
If they agree to have contact, the agency can help to arrange it and provide any emotional support, counselling or advicethat may be needed.
Protecting the welfare of those concerned
Before going ahead with applications, agencies must consider the welfare of adopted adults, birth relatives and any other people who may be affected.
It is important to appreciate the impact an approach by an agency may have on someone. Adopted adults may not know they were adopted, while their birth relatives for example younger siblings may be unaware of the adopted adults existence. They may need time to think about how to respond.
Even if they initially decide they do not want contact, they may change their mind at a later date.
If you want to be contacted
If you want to be contacted you can register with the Adoption Contact Register (ACR). This puts adopted adults and their adult birth relatives in touch with each other, if that is what they both want.
- Using the Adoption Contact Register (government, citizens and rights section)
If you don't want to be contacted
Birth relatives can register with the ACR that they don't want to have contact with an adopted adult.
If you are an adopted adult, you can register with the ACR that you dont want to have contact with:
- any adult birth relative
- specified relatives for example a sibling or aunt
If you dont want to be approached by an agency you can tell your adoption agency and register a veto.
What is a veto?
An absolute veto means that an intermediary agency cannot approach you under any circumstances. However, your adoption agency can contact you to pass on information, for example about a hereditary medical condition or details of an inheritance.
A qualified veto means you can specify circumstances when you would be prepared to be contacted by an intermediary agency. You could specify, for example, that an approach on behalf of your birth parent wouldnt be acceptable, but an approach by a sibling would.
More useful links
- Download the leaflet: Adopted adults and birth relatives - tracing and contact (PDF, 368K)
- Help with PDF files
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