Photograph of a baby, 1911 (Catalogue reference: COPY 1/554/f98)

This is a brief guide to help you with your research. Records of adoption in the United Kingdom are kept in various places but not at The National Archives. This guide will help you to find out if the records you are looking for exist and, if so, where to find them.

  • What do I need to know before I start?

    • Try to find out:

      • the person's name (and name of their parents, spouse or next of kin, where applicable)
      • the approximate date of the adoption order
  • What records can I see online?

    • There are no adoption registers or indexes available to see online.

  • What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

    • The National Archives does not hold any adoption records or indexes.

  • What other resources will help me find information?

    • Websites

      Visit the Adoption Search Reunion website, which provides information for adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive parents in England and Wales. The information applies to adoptions made before 30 December 2005.

    • Books

      Read Where to find adoption records: a guide for counsellors, adopted people and birth relatives by Georgina Stafford (British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, 2001).

Did you know?

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.