Adoption birth records

Background

In the past it was thought best for all concerned that an adopted child's break with his birth family should be total. Parents who placed a child for adoption were generally told that a child would not have access to his birth record. The current legislation reflects increased understanding of the wishes and needs of adopted people. It recognises that although adoption makes a child a full member of a new family, information about his or her origins may still be important to an adopted person.

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People adopted before 12 November 1975 are required to see a counsellor before they can be given access to their records because in the years before 1975 some parents and adopters may have been led to believe that the children being adopted would never be able to find out their original names or the names of their parents. These arrangements were made in good faith and it is important that adopted people who want to find out more about their origins should understand what it may mean for them and for others.

This means that if you were adopted before 12 November 1975, the Adoption Act requires you to see an experienced social worker called a counsellor before you can obtain information from your original birth record.

If you were adopted after 11 November 1975, you may choose whether or not you would like to see a counsellor before you are given the information which will lead you to your birth record. You may find it helpful to see a counsellor as they may be able to offer practical advice and guidance as well as discussing any concerns or issues important to you.

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