FFHS - supporting family historians for over 40 years

Researching Adopted Persons in England & Wales


Until the Adoption of Children Act 1926, adoption was largely an informal process, the only significant exception being when children were placed for adoption by Boards of Guardians under the 1899 Poor Law Act. A detailed analysis of the factors that led to the changes introduced in 1926 appears in “Struggle for Identity: Issues Underlying the Enactment of the 1926 Adoption of Children Act” by Dr Jenny Keating.

The Adopted Children's Register was established with effect from 1 January 1927. It was the first centralised record of adoptions authorised by courts in England and Wales. Information from the Register about the original birth registration or parentage of people who have been adopted is not available to the general public.

Accessing your birth records

If you are adopted and want to find out more about your background, visit the relevant Government website, which explains the process.

The Adoption Contact Register.

The Adoption Contact Register is also run by the Government and provides opportunities to:

  • Find a birth relative or an adopted person (subject to various conditions)
  • Say that you don’t want to be contacted.

Adoption Research

Some members of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) specialise in the research of adopted persons. To find a list of these researchers:

  • Visit the AGRA site
  • Select "Adoption" from the draw-down list of research specialities
  • Click the “Find Researcher” button.

© 2009 The Federation of Family History Societies. All rights reserved

Registered Charity No. 1038721    Company No. 2930189 (England)

Page updated by the webmaster on 30 November 2015

website designed by Pete Hunnisett