How to look for records of... Adoptions

The National Archives does not hold records of adoptions but this guide will point you towards some of the organisations that do. There are no adoption records, registers or indexes available to see online.

Formal adoption, as we now know it, did not exist in England and Wales until 1927. Before then, adoptions were usually informal. In a few cases there was some legal documentation, but no central register.

Where to go for records and advice

Consult the General Register Office for information about tracing a birth record if you were adopted in England or Wales and for advice on how to add yourself to the Adoption Contact Register.

Consult the National Records of Scotland for information about adoption in Scotland.

Consult the General Register Office for Northern Ireland for information about adoption in Northern Ireland.

For adoptions before 30 December 2005 see the Adoption Search Reunion website, which provides information for adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive parents in England and Wales.

Consult the CoramBAAF website and their advice for adults who were adopted or in care. CoramBAAF is the successor organisation to the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).