Dave Oates is the Head Researcher at Relative Connections. In this article and he talks about Adoption Tracing and how you can find people related to adoption.
I wanted to write about adoption tracing as it comes up a lot when we’re looking for lost family members.
Did you know that Ofsted regulate all Adoption Tracing?.
Ofsted is there to ensure that certain standards are achieved and that people affected by adoption are well supported.
I’m going to explain the differences involved in looking for an adopted person vs looking for a birth parent.
Finding a birth parent when you were adopted
If you want to find a birth parent when adopted. You are entitled to access the information that’s held about you in your adoption file.
Some people might know what their name was at birth without access to that information. If you do, then you can apply for a copy of your own birth certificate through the General Registrar. Once you get a copy of that, it should name your birth mother at the very least. (When someone’s adopted, no birth father is named, so quite often you won’t get a father’s name on there).
This means you could know the name of your birth mother and start the process of trying to find her. You would do this through public records like births, marriages, and death records.
We would not recommend that you make contact yourself. We would always recommend using a registered intermediary. You only get one chance to make that first impression.
You can also access your adoption records by contacting the agency that dealt with your adoption. The adoption records will quite often hold more information about your birth parents which can help to locate them.
Problems with Adoption Agencies
Going to an agency can be problematic because many historical adoption agencies no longer exist. Although their records have to be kept for 75 years it can be difficult tracking them down. You’re entitled to contact your local authority, even if they weren’t the agents that dealt with your adoption. They are obliged to help you access your records. It’s quite time consuming because you usually go on a waiting list that your local authority then has to try and track your records down.
The records will be held by another local authority and you have to wait for them then to release the record. For many people, it takes more than a year to get anywhere but it does depend upon the agency.
Tracing someone who has been adopted.
If you are a birth relative and want to trace someone who was adopted. You’ll need to use a registered intermediary. This is because you can’t access their adopted name on your own. Unlike the adoptive person having the right to access records, birth relatives do not have any right to that data. Also, you should not contact them without the use of a registered intermediary.
What a Registered Intermediary has to do is interview the birth relative and make sure it’s appropriate to take the search on.
Once they have taken the search on they have to track the records down and access them. They access the records for information such as a veto. A veto, which would mean effectively, they are not allowed to be contacted.
If you were adopted, and don’t ever wish to be contacted by a birth family, then you can register a veto to stop anybody from trying to contact you.
A birth relative can register a wish for no contact, which actually isn’t the same as a veto. The law says that if the adoptive person wanted to find out information about a birth relative and there was a wish for no contact notes on the file, but that person needed to find out important medical information, then an intermediary could decide that it will still be appropriate to try and contact them. So, it’s quite different for adoptive people.
If you are wanting to find an adopted person, their information could only be shared with you through an intermediary, and the adopted person HAS to give their consent. So the intermediary has to
– Track the records down
– Make sure there are no vetoes or any reasons to not attempt contact with that person,
– Trace the person,
– Contact them
– Support you and then through counselling for example
So if you’re an adopted person looking for a parent, it’s easier to do that without professional help but we would always say it’s wise to get help as it can be complicated.
If you’re a birth relative looking for an adopted person, then you will need the help of a Registered Intermediary because you cannot do it without them.
I hope that makes some sense and gives you some advice on the adoption tracing process. I hope it explains some things and might provide some people with a few ideas of what they might need to be doing to find someone related to adoption.
If you would like to know more about our Adoption Tracing Service click here