Tracing family members
ACE does not provide a search and intermediary reunion service. ACE would recommend that you identify an OFSTED registered provider and that you have a clear understanding of the fees that will be incurred before agreeing to proceed.
I am a birth relative of an adopted adult. I want to try and search and contact them. How do I do this?
We recommend that you ask a registered intermediary agency to search and contact them.
You will be unable to do your own search if you do not know their adopted name and therefore will need the services of an intermediary agency.
Why use an intermediary service?
Intermediary services are experienced in working with adopted adults and birth relatives.
Contacting your birth family members can be a complicated and emotional journey, so it is always best to have an experienced intermediary worker who can mediate between you, and support both parties.
Experience has shown that making direct contact yourself may not create the best outcome. ACE would recommend that any relationship is built up slowly. Using an intermediary will enable you both to be prepared and will give you time to process the feelings of a reunion.
Are there any points I should consider before I proceed?
- A search may reveal that the person that you are looking for has died.
- Be mindful that the person you are approaching may not want contact with you and may not respond to contact. This may feel like a rejection.
- Historical adoptions were often shrouded in secrecy and the person being approached may not have talked to anyone about the adoption. This may make reunion very difficult for them.
- The person you are approaching must feel ready to respond and may take some time to process your approach.
- The person you are approaching may have had a very different life to what you imagined.
- This process can be an emotional roller coaster ride that can be different to how you imagined – be gentle with yourself.
- The use of social media to make contact can also often result in challenges. ACE would strongly advise against using social media at an early stage in the process.
Is there a fee for using an intermediary service?
Yes – we recommend that you check an intermediary service's fees and what they include before proceeding.
What is the Contact Register?
Adopted people and birth relatives can register their interest to have contact with each other with the Adoption Contact Register that is held by the Registrar General Office.
This is not a tracing service - for a connection to be made between people, you must both be on the Adoption Contact Register.
It is also possible to register a wish for ‘No contact’ on the Adoption Contact Register.
I am a birth parent. I don’t want the child that I placed for adoption many years ago to contact me. How can I stop this from happening?
If the adoption was arranged by one of the ACE local authorities, you can contact ACE to let us know your wishes and we can place this information on your child’s adoption file so if they contact us, we can inform them of this. However, we cannot guarantee that you would not be contacted as adopted people are entitled to a copy of their original birth certificate once they reach the age of 18 and some may try and trace you themselves. It is also possible to register a wish for ‘No contact’ on the Adoption Contact Register.
- More information on the Adoption Contact Register
- General information on post adoption services, news, locating records.
Want to speak to someone?
Our office hours are:
- 9:00am - 5:30pm Monday - Thursday.
- 9:00am - 5:00pm Friday
To speak to one of the team for an initial conversation please call 0300 369 0556.
All calls are in strictest confidence and any questions or queries will be answered by an experienced adoption social worker.
Adoption records enquiry
If you have an enquiry about adoption records, please fill in the form to contact us.