I’m adopted, how can I find my missing relatives? A blog about finding your birth parents

12 August 2022


adoption researchIf you’re adopted, you may have wondered about your birth parents and their family. You may have even tried to find them. It’s not always easy to do this. 

When you turn 18, you have the legal right to request information about your birth parents and, if you wish, try and find them. In today’s world, it can be easy to try and find people on social media, but there are plenty of other routes to pursue that may be more effective. 

Government agencies such as the GRO (General Register Office) allow adoptees to access their original birth records. If you know your identity at birth, it is easy to order a copy of your birth certificate from them. If you don’t, you will have to request a copy through the Birth certificate Information Before Adoption (BIBA) service. 

Start with yourself. 

The place to start is close to home. it can be helpful to ask your parents if they can remember any details about your birth parents that might help you find them, such as their names or where they lived, if they are still with you. They may have kept letters, photos or other files that could lead you in the right direction. You can also try talking to other members of your family who were around during your adoption—they may be able to recall something useful. However, remember that asking your family these questions can be a very sensitive matter. Always approach people carefully and understand that they may not be able to help, or may not wish to. 

Even if your family can’t help, there is good news: with a little research, some help from professionals, or even just a little time and effort, it’s possible to find out more about your birth family, and hopefully find a way to get in touch with them if that’s your aim. 

The bad news is that it does take time and it can need money—and it’s not always easy. As with discussing your birth family with your adoptive family, they may not wish to be in touch with you through no fault of yours. They may also have passed away or not be easy or even possible to find. When embarking on this journey, it is important to be realistic about the possible outcomes. 

What sources should you consider? 

Once you’ve identified your birth family, you should consider the many different sources of information that are available to you. These include: 

  • Public records: You can use public records to search for birth certificates and death certificates, which may contain information about your relatives. In the UK, these are kept by the GRO in England & Wales, the PRONI in Northern Ireland and National Records of Scotland in Scotland. Sometimes, some of these documents may be available from your original adoption file. In other countries, the rules around accessing public records differ. 
  • Online databases: As discussed above, the GRO can help you locate your own birth identity. In the UK, large numbers of records have also been digitised and are available online, either freely or at a cost, which can help you trace your birth family. Once you know your birth identity, tracing your birth family can be just like tracing any other family, so make good use of your family history skills or an expert with them. 
  • Ask an Adoption Agency or Intermediary: In the UK, many adoption agencies offer an intermediary service to help you make contact with your birth family. Intermediaries can assist in tracing and contacting your birth family members and can be some of the best people to do so. The news that an adoptee wishes to make contact can come as a great shock and a challenge to their birth family, so an intermediary who is trained in providing the support necessary to you and them can help make the process run more smoothly for all involved. Some intermediaries and adoption agencies offer their help on a voluntary basis, others charge, so always make sure to check first and find the right person for you. 

Above all, don’t be discouraged if things don’t work out. There are plenty of things to try and, even if all avenues are exhausted, you can say that you honestly did your best at the end of the process. 


Remember: always start with yourself. If you can’t find anything about your birth parents through the GRO or other public records, then it may be time to consider looking for help from professionals like adoption agencies, intermediaries or family history researchers. Here at Family Wise, we have plenty of experience in helping adoptees find their family. Remember, there are many ways to find out more about your background, even if getting in touch isn’t an option for whatever reason, so don’t give up hope. It is important for you to understand where you come from, and that all starts with your family.

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