Why is this needed?

Research has highlighted how important it is for adopted adults to have access to information and to find answers to questions about their identity and history for their well-being.

Government perspective

NMS 16

Adopted adults and birth relatives are assisted to obtain information in relation to the adoption, where appropriate, and contact is facilitated between an adopted adult and their birth relative if that is what both parties want.

Adopted Adult perspective

ATV has conducted a survey of adopted adults accessing services. The majority of respondents said that their main expectations from the services were to:

  • understand and make sense of the circumstances and reasons for being adopted
  • know more about birth family members

Triseliotis, Feast and Kyle (2005) concluded that:

  • Adoption is a life-long experience and all those affected need access to counselling, advice and support services that are not time-limited

  • Publicity and information are essential for people affected by adoption so that they know how and where to access the information, advice and support they need

  • Access to information can have a positive impact and help lessen the sense of living with uncertainty and the unknown

Exemplar Approaches

Oxfordshire (now part of ATV) has a history of delivering what they feel is a quality service in this area. They believe that this is to largely due to having an experienced specialist worker in place to lead on this work.

All the agencies surveyed provide support to adopted people requiring access to birth records. In Adoption Counts this accounts for approximately a third of all referrals for adoption support services.

Most agencies provide a level of information on their website for adopted adults but not at all. The voluntary sector tends to put more emphasis on this area of work and provides more and better-quality information:

  • PAC-UK offer a range of services to adopted adults

  • Others offer a support group for adopted adults (e.g. CfAS)

  • A number of voluntary agencies offer an intermediary service, but this is not offered by any of the statutory agencies surveyed, although they do signpost birth relatives to other services

  • After Adoption produced a range of information for adopted adults and those seeking information about an adopted relative. These are attached at appendix eight.

Possible future developments

The need for better information for adopted adults was highlighted. E.g.

  • a national directory of services to adopted adults

  • guidance on how and where to access records.

After Adoption highlighted the need to plan now to meet the needs of young people adopted after 2005 who will access records as Post Commencement Adoptions.

  • Adoption Support Social Workers need to be made aware of how adopted people can access records through the placing agency, rather than the General Register Office or LA, if placed after 2005

  • Children’s Social Workers require training to prepare CPRs with the expectation that young people will read them

  • Birth parents require support to contribute information for their children in future years

Services will need to support young people who:

  • are accessing their looked after records, Child Permanence Reports and adoption files, which were not necessarily written with the understanding that they would be accessed

  • have complex and often abusive histories who wish to access their records

  • have already made contact with birth families via social media

This is a service area which could be commissioned across a number of RAAs in order to develop a new level of expertise and focus.


Some agencies expressed regret that they were not able to offer a fuller and more responsive service to adult adopters.


Next: A Workforce Development Plan