Last updated:
8 September 2016

Birth families and adoption records

How to access adoption records, advice on seeking information about birth relatives and birth relatives of adopted adults.

1 Advice for adults who were adopted

If you have been adopted and are currently living in West Sussex, our Adoption Support Service can offer advice, support, information and counselling on trying to find birth relatives.

If you have been adopted and do not currently live in West Sussex, please make enquiries with the local authority adoption service where you live.

Accessing your birth records 

Advice on accessing your birth records, whether or not you know your birth details, is available on the GOV.UK website. This service is for people wanting information from their records, who may or may not want to go on to trace and contact their birth relatives.

If you were adopted through West Sussex County Council, and are resident in West Sussex, you can contact our Adoption Support Service to access your birth records.

Tracing birth relatives

To access this service you must be:

  • aged 18 or over
  • adopted before 30 December 2005
  • resident in West Sussex.

You can also find information on using intermediary agencies to help you trace a birth relative on the GOV.UK website.

Adoption Contact Register

The Adoption Contact Register is designed to put adopted people and their birth relatives in touch with each other, if that is what they both want. The Register does not contain the details of everyone who was adopted or is looking for their adopted family member as it a voluntary register.

Adding your name to the Adoption Contact Register allows you to find a birth relative, or say that you don't want to be contacted. There is a small fee for this service.

Contact our Adoption Support Service for further information.

Preventing birth relatives tracing you

An adopted person has the right to set up a veto that can prevent them from being contacted by a birth relative. There are two types of veto:

  • Absolute veto - This informs an intermediary agency that they can’t approach you under any circumstances. However, it does still allow your adoption agency to pass on important information to you, such as details of an hereditary medical condition or details of an inheritance.

  • Qualified veto - This allows you to indicate when you would be prepared to be contacted. For example, you could say that an approach on behalf of your birth parent wouldn’t be acceptable, but an approach by a sibling would.

The Adoption Support Service can advise you further if this is what you want to do. We will record your preferences on your adoption records so that anyone trying to find you can be advised of your wishes.

2 Advice for birth relatives of adopted adults

If your child was adopted in West Sussex, and you want to try and find them now that they are an adult, our Adoption Support Service can offer an intermediary service for birth relatives. We can provide support, advice, information and counselling if you decide you would like to try and make contact.

Tracing adults who were adopted

This service is for people who:

  • are resident in West Sussex
  • aged 18 or over.

Adoption Contact Register

The Adoption Contact Register is designed to put adopted people and their birth relatives in touch with each other, if that is what they both want. The Register does not contain the details of everyone who was adopted or is looking for their adopted family member as it a voluntary register.

Adding your name to the Adoption Contact Register allows you to state a preference over whether you would welcome contact or not. There is a small fee for this service.

Contact our Adoption Support Service for further information.

More information on using intermediary agencies to help you can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Descendants of adoptees

Descendants of adopteees (prescribed relationship) can apply for the adoptee's birth records., with their permission, providing they can prove the relationship.

If the adoptee is deceased, applications can still be made as long as the relationship can be proved.

Preventing birth relatives tracing you 

An adopted person has the right to set up a veto that can prevent them from being contacted by a birth relative. There are two types of veto:

  • Absolute veto - This informs an intermediary agency that they can’t approach you under any circumstances. However, it does still allow your adoption agency to pass on important information to you, such as details of an hereditary medical condition or details of an inheritance.

  • Qualified veto - This allows you to indicate when you would be prepared to be contacted. For example, you could say that an approach on behalf of your birth parent wouldn’t be acceptable, but an approach by a sibling would.

The Adoption Support Service can advise you further if this is what you want to do. We will record your preferences on your adoption records so that anyone trying to find you can be advised of your wishes.

4 Contact details

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