Adoption records

Records of adoption are available from the early twentieth century, when legal adoption was introduced in the UK. Adoptions before this time were done privately however, and records would be hard to find.

It is important to remember that only the adoptee can apply for his or her original birth records, so if your interested in learning about family history, it may not be possible to trace your genetic family line.

Adoption Certificates

There are two types of adoption certificates available, the short certificate and the full certificate.

A short certificate shows:

  • Date of birth
  • Place and country of birth
  • Adoptive forename
  • Adoptive surname
  • Gender

A full certificate shows:

  • Date of birth
  • Place and country of birth
  • Adoptive forename
  • Adoptive surname
  • Gender
  • Name and surname of adoptive parents
  • Address and occupation of adoptive parents
  • Date of adoption order
  • Date on which adoption was granted
  • Name of the court

Where can I find adoption certificates?

Birth and adoption records are available from different places, depending on which area of the UK you are from.

If you were adopted in England or Wales:

  • Records can be obtained from the Adopted Children Register, held by the General Register Office
  • The Adopted Children Register has records of adoptions granted by courts since 1927.
  • A new birth entry is made that replaces the original birth entry.
  • Visit the General Register Office website to find out how to apply for a copy of your adoption certificate.
  • Contact the General Register Office about adoptions:

If you were adopted in Scotland:

  • Records can be obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland.
  • Records are available at the Adoption Unit at New Register House
  • Contact the General Register Office for Scotland:

If you were adopted in Ireland:

  • Records can be obtained from the General Register Office for Northern Ireland.
  • To apply for your certificate you need to fill out an application form by contacting the General Register Office for Northern Ireland.
  • Contact the General Register Office of Northern Ireland:
    • The General Register Office
    • Oxford House
    • 49-55 Chichester Street
    • Belfast
    • BT1 4HL
    • Telephone: 0289 025 2000
    • Email: gro.nisra@dfpni.gov.uk