How to access your records

Some handy hints and tips

Access to records

Adoptees have the legal right to access information about themselves. It can be complicated to navigate the many authorities and hurdles to access the information.

The fact that information has been withheld from you up to now has often been done to serve the needs of others, but your need to know your history and identity is important.

We are in the process of producing a series of blogs and guides to help.

UK adoptions

You can access your birth certificate if you are 18 or over.

Anyone adopted before 12th November 1975 will need to attend a counselling session with an approved adoption advisor first. Please note, that this is not a therapeutic counselling session, and is purely in relation to accessing your files.

How do I access my birth certificate?

You can access your birth certificate via the UK Government’s website

There are different procedures, depending on how much information you have, but please do not pay any third parties to access these files for you

What records can I expect to access?

Typically adoptees can access

  • adoption or social work case files
  • court records

Who holds the records?

Any records that relate to the adoption i.e an ‘adoption file’ will usually be held by the agency that arranged the adoption. This could be anyone from County Councils, charitable and religious institutions. Sadly, files do not always survive.

How do I access my adoption file?

The process for accessing your adoption records differs depending if you were adopted before or after 30 December 2005. 

It’s not always easy to know where to start, so we recommend looking at these two websites for guidance:

the Family Connect website
the Adoption Search Reunion website

What support is available?

If you are looking for support you may wish to check out the peer support options which you can find on the resources area of our website.

There are a number of Facebook groups that may be useful including Adopted in the UK –