Adoptionbirth Parent Tracing Birth Familyadoption Contact Registersection 51 Counselling

Adopted people over the age of eighteen in the UK have the legal right to access their original birth certificates and also adoption records. They also have available to them agencies who will assist in tracing their birth family and also act as intermediaries during the process.

The first step for the adoptee is to gain a copy of their original birth certificate and adoption records which can be achieved by writing to the General Registry Office. The letter must state whether the adoption was before or after November 1975.  If the adoption was after this date then there is an option for the records to be sent to an adoption agency or directly to the applicant. Those born before 1975 have no choice and need to wait until the adoption agency makes an appointment to provide the documentation and counseling.

Section 51 counseling, as is known, is where a qualified professional provides background information in respect to the adoption and explores with the adoptee the possible outcomes of tracing birth parents. The counseling can be for one or more sessions depending upon the wishes of the applicant.

Once the records are received and digested the adoptee can then decide whether to try and trace their birth parents. Unless the child was abandoned, the adoption records tend to provide background information about the birth family prior to the adoption. The adoptee however may also receive letters or photographs written by the birth family for the child and sent to the adoption agency following the adoption.

If the adoptee decides to trace the birth family, they can contact any of the address’s provided in the records, such as former residents, employers churches etc. Plus agencies such as the Salvation Army will agree to pass on letters from the adoptee if they come into contact with the birth parent. A very helpful resource for the adoptee is the records office which can provide information in regards to birth family, deaths, marriages or births since the adoption. The adoptee can also register with the Adoption Contact Register.

If the adoptee is successful in gaining updated information regarding the birth parent then it is advisable to take time to think through a number of issues before contact is made and identifying information exchanged.

The adoptee needs to consider what it is they want from contact with the birth family. If expecting a relationship the adoptee needs to prepare themselves for the fact that the birth parent may not want to have contact with them. The birth mother may for example have started a new life and not told her husband or children etc about the adoption. The birth parent and or their family may have issues around drugs, crime, mental illness, alcohol or violence which could have a direct impact upon the adoptee and their family.

Even without such issues it is advisable for the adoptee not to provide identifying information until sure of the birth families circumstances. The adoptee can for example return to the adoption agency and ask to use their address as a letter box or indeed hire a post office box. Any contact with birth parents will have an impact upon the adoptee’s life and it is better to be safe then sorry.

Meeting a birth parent is an exciting event but it can also cause anxiety for all invovled. The birth parent may have fears that the adoptee will ask difficult questions and the adoptee may be concerned that the birth parent will not like them. Whilst both parties might want to share each other with family and friends at the first meeting it is probably better that they spend time alone to get to know each other. If the meeting is successful there is no reason why the two cannot arrange family unions at a later date.

Finding birth parents can be a very fulfilling experiance for all involved but it is impotant that adoptee take time during the process to consider the potential outcomes and what is best for them.