Adoption contact registers

A good first step to take if you’re serious about making contact with your birth relatives is to register with the Adoption Contact Register operated by the General Register Office (GRO).

This allows you to register your desire for contact and, if any of your birth relatives have also done so, you will be sent their contact details and they will be notified this has occurred.

Registrations are also accepted from adopted people and birth relatives who want to record a wish for no contact.

In addition to the Adoption Contact Register held by the GRO, there is also the contact register that was previously operated by NORCAP and then Adoption Services for Adults. 

Family Action’s Adoption Support Agency PAC-UK now manages the Norcap Contact Register, and this means that we can check for links on behalf of adopted adults and their relatives and take registrations from new applicants.  For information or applications please contact

If you think it was possible that your birth relatives may have registered before 2013 you can also contact us through PAC-UK and ask us to search the register.

How useful are they?

Although in principle the Government’s Adoption Contact Register is a fantastic resource, in practice it’s not as well publicised as it should be, and there’s no guarantee your birth family have necessarily heard of it. Therefore, do not be surprised if your registration does not result in a match – it is certainly no indicator that they don’t wish for a reunion.

Is support available for people using the register?

Unless you are already in touch with an adoption advisor, there is no support mechanism for those using the register, nor is there counselling or support before you choose to register. You can, however, name an intermediary of somebody else who can receive the initial letter from the General Register Office on your behalf to help you prepare for any potential difficult news, for example if your birth relative has registered a wish for no contact. For this reason. We would recommend taking the time to discuss this with your adoption advisor regarding taking this step and how you will proceed should a match be found.

It is also important to keep the GRO informed of any change of address as they only write to the person at the last known address and there are no mechanisms in place for them to check if it has been received or not.

  • Was this helpful ?
  • Yes   No

Our Voices

Elizabeth’s story: my continuing journey as a foundling

When Elizabeth began her journey to discover her background as a foundling – a child discovered with no identifying documents…

Claire story: searching for my birth mum

Adoptee and blogger, Claire of How To Be Adopted shares her experience of searching and reuniting with birth family members,…

Elizabeth’s story: my journey as an adoption foundling

Elizabeth, a foundling, opens up about her journey discovering her background, who she was and meeting her birth relatives for…

John-george’s story: tracing my records as a care leaver

Tracing records and family origins can be a daunting journey for adults who grew up in care. Here John-george shares…
View more