Contact with birth families
Adopted children contacting birth families
For most children it is important to maintain some level of contact with their birth families. The level of birth family contact is something that is agreed at about the time a child is placed with their adoptive family.
Contact can vary from an annual letter through the letterbox system through to regular direct contact with an adopted child’s brothers and sisters or previous foster carers.
Many families use the letterbox system which is usually an annual letter through our adoption service which keeps all addresses confidential. Often the adoptive family will write to the birth family once a year and the birth family has the opportunity to do the same. Some families also exchange birthday and Christmas cards.
Whatever level of contact your child has, they will need your support and help in understanding why they have been adopted.
From the age of 18 adopted children can, if they wish, apply for their original birth certificate, have access to file information and request an intermediary service to facilitate any contact with birth family members. They will need their adoptive parent’s support through this process.
If you are an adopted person who would like to trace your birth family, please contact us for advice, counselling and practical help.
Birth families contacting adopted children
Birth family members have a right to request an intermediary service to search for adopted family members once they turn 18. However, an adoption agency has the discretion to decide whether to approach an adopted young person or not. This will depend on the particular circumstances of each case.
If an adoption agency approaches an adopted person, they have the right to say whether they want any contact with their birth family or not.
Under legislation that came into force in December 2005, once an adopted person reaches the age of 18, they can choose to take out a qualified or absolute veto about any approach made by a birth family member.
More information about tracing and contacting birth relatives on the DirectGov website (link opens in a new window)