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Adoption in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Tracing an adopted child or birth parent can be a difficult task. If successful, the outcome of any meeting between natural families may not always be as one would hope. Nevertheless, many adoptees and birth parents are searching for each other, and many do find each other and go on to have loving relationships. The main information agency is the BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering).

From the age of 18 in England and Wales, and 16 in Scotland, an adopted child has the right to a copy of their original birth certificate. Those who were adopted before 12th November 1975 in England and Wales, and before 8th December 1987 in Northern Ireland, who ask for details of their birth (and do not already know their birth name), must have a meeting with a social worker. This can take place at any social services department, or at the agency which arranged the adoption, or at the G.R.O. (General Record Office). In Scotland this is not compulsory, but is available if it is wanted.

The primary means of tracing one's natural family is via adoption contact registers. Adoptees searching for their natural families may leave their contact details, and should their natural family subsequently add their details to the register, the adoptee will be informed. Likewise, natural families searching for adoptees, may leave contact details and a letter, in hope that one day the adoptee will add their details to the registers. If there is a match, only the adoptee will be given a current address. This is because the onus for contact is always on the adopted person. Of course there may never be a match in some cases.

There are two main registers kept for England and Wales. The first is at the GRO, and the second is at NORCAP. In the case of the official GRO (General Record Office) there is a registration fee of £15 for an adoptee, and £25 for birth families. With NORCAP (National Organisation for Counselling Adoptees and Parents) there is a £50 fee.

For people adopted in Northern Ireland there is a register administered by the Registrar General, and in Scotland there is Birthlink.

Another way to make contact may be via the agency that arranged the adoption in the first place.



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