During this year’s Big Adoption Conversation event, which brought together the adoption community to discuss the priorities for adoption in Wales, The Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan made a personal apology to those affected by historic adoption practices.
Mrs Morgan said;
“Whilst forced adoption practices predate devolution in Wales, they have a lasting legacy on all those who experienced them – for both the parents and the children. I want to put on record my profound sympathy to all those who have been affected by historic forced adoption.
“To all the victims, I would like to convey my deepest sympathy and regret that due to society failing you, you had to endure such appalling historical practices. For this I am truly sorry.”
Her full statement can be read here and here is a link to an audio recording of the statement.
The personal apology comes after the Joint Committee on Human Rights published its recommendations, following an inquiry to understand the experiences of unmarried women whose children were adopted between 1949 and 1976 in England and Wales.
The National Adoption Service for Wales welcomed the inquiry’s recommendations when they were published in July 2022, and although adoption legislation and practices have been significantly strengthened since, we continue to work closely with Welsh Government to further improve services in Wales.
The National Adoption Service for Wales holds deepest sympathy for all affected. The injustice of these historical practices should continue to be acknowledged.
Adoption has changed considerably since that time and is now considered for children only when other options have been fully explored.
Services aim to help birth families to stay together wherever that is possible, and where this is not, adoption provides children with safety and the opportunity to thrive.
If you’re an adopted adult, birth parent or another birth relative affected by historic adoptions in the 1950s, 60s and early 1970s, there are a range of existing services that can support you.
You can seek advice and support from your local adoption agency, to help you explore what help may be available to you locally to deal with the impact of the historic adoption of your child.
Contact details for all the adoption agencies in Wales can be found on our website:
As well as the statutory adoption agencies, there are other organisations that can help those affected by adoption. Some of these services are available at little or no cost, while for others the cost is greater.
Adoption UK and its Welsh branch, Adoption UK Cymru, is a charitable organisation, which operates a free helpline for adopted people and adoptive parents and also offers a support service for adopted adults, who subscribe to this service.
The website Adoption Search and Reunion is intended to be the first port of call for anyone thinking about tracing for or making contact with birth and adopted relatives or retracing an adoption that took place in the UK.
Another source of information and advice for adopted adults anywhere in the UK is Family Connect
To find out details of other services, including those that offer a fee-based service, please contact your local adoption agency, who will be able to advise you about the range of services available locally and nationally. Some of the services operating across the UK can help with access to records and others may also be able to assist where both parties want to reconnect by offering what is known as an intermediary service. Some of the organisations are charities and others are private businesses and this is reflected in the costs for their services.
All organisations providing these services must be registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) or Ofsted in England.
Access to records and intermediary services
All 5 Regional Adoption Services in Wales, based in local authorities can help with access to records. This is statutory duty. They may also be able offer an intermediary service. Unlike access to birth records for adopted people, this is a discretionary service. There is no charge for either of these services, but capacity is limited, and you may have to wait for a while before you can see someone.
Organisations that offer services including access to birth records and/or intermediary services other than the regional adoption services within Wales are listed below. All these organisations will also provide some emotional support. In some cases that will be provided by an adoption social worker in others by a trained counsellor or therapist.
Adoption Finder Intermediary Service – this is the only such agency based in Wales and able to offer a service through the medium of Welsh. It offers an access to birth records, tracing and intermediary services.
CMB Counselling – this organisation offers adoption support services to adopted people, birth relatives of adopted people and descendants of those adopted before 30th December 2005.
Father Hudson’s Care – this charitable agency offers support to all those affected by adoption, including tracing and intermediary services.
Joanna North Associates Ltd. – this is company offering a range of services to adopted adults and birth relatives, including access to birth records, counselling, tracing and intermediary services.
PAC-UK – this is an organisation operating UK wide. It has a specialist service which provides support for adults adopted as children, and for adults otherwise permanently placed as children. This includes access to adoption records, tracing, intermediary services and counselling.
There are a number of other organisations that offer emotional or psychological support to those affected by adoption, but which are not in a position to assist with access to birth records, tracing or provide intermediary services. Details of these can be found on the website for the Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies (CASA)
The adoption contact register
Details of all adoptions in England and Wales are kept by the General Register Office (GRO). The GRO operates the national Adoption Contact Register, which allows adopted people and birth parents of adopted people to register their details and state whether or not they wish to be contacted by others. There is a cost to be added to the register. This is £15 for adopted adults or £30 for birth family members. Please note that the contact register is only able to make connections between those people who have chosen to place their details on that register and have registered their willingness to have contact. There is no tracing or intermediary service associated with it.
The legal framework and process for access to birth records
Adopted adults – under UK law, all adopted adults have a legal right to access information from their birth records, in order to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate at any time after their 18th birthday. The law requires that these records are stored securely for at least 100 years. The legal framework differs somewhat, depending on if you were adopted before 12th November 1975 or after that date. If you already know your basic birth details, you can contact the General Register Office (GRO) to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate (www.gov.uk/adoption-records). If you don’t know those basic details, you will need to fill in an application form to obtain them. Details are on the GRO website. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com or phone 0300 123 1837.
Most of the detailed information about the circumstances surrounding adoptions will have been recorded in the case files of the agency that placed a child with their adoptive parents. These records are held by or can be accessed by an existing adoption agency. The GRO will ask the adopted adult to nominate an adoption agency to assist them in accessing their records. This will usually be the adoption agency in their locality, even if your records are held elsewhere. If the adoption order was made before 12th November 1975, there is a legal requirement for an adoption social worker to meet with the adoptee before they can access their records. If they were adopted after that date, they don’t have to speak to an adoption social worker, but it is likely to be very helpful to do so. The adoption social worker can advise and support them with understanding the information and putting it in its historical context. They can also discuss what options there are if the adoptee wishes to enquire further or seek reunion and therefore requires tracing and an intermediary service.