Tracing your family

How to start, and where to access support

Many adoptees will want to trace their origins and find their families, even if they do not wish to initiate contact.

Tracing raises lots of complicated emotions and it can take years for an adoptee to decide they are ready to search, and possibly even longer to attempt a reunion. 

Where do I start?

If you have your birth name and identities of birth parent(s), see the section on our website for Access to Records, adoptees can use publicly available information including family history websites such as:

Adoption contact register

The General Register Office maintains the Adoption Contact Register. Adoptees and birth families can add their names to the Register and adoptees can record a wish for contact, or a veto. The current fee for this is £15

Professional intermediaries can access the Register but will not pass on details of the adoptee where they have recorded an ‘absolute veto’.

Search angels

Search angels are online volunteers who help others find biological family members. There is an interesting article in the Guardian about their role in search and reunion.

Professional search companies

Professional companies offer tracing services. It is important to find out as much as possible about any service. and relevant fees prior to commencing a search.

Many charities that were involved in arranging the adoption, offer tracing services – for which most of them charge. Please make sure you check to see if there is a reduced fee for adoptions arranged by them.

Intermediary services

Adoptees or birth families may choose to use an intermediary service i.e. a third-party individual who will make contact on the adoptee’s behalf. Intermediaries offer an important service but they will not be right for everyone, and it is important that you feel comfortable with who will be representing you.