Listen to five black women talk about adoption
Adoption is something that is with you your whole life and some adopted adults may struggle with dealing with their childhood, and how their life began. Adopt London want to ensure you continue to receive the help, guidance and support you need; such as putting you in touch with services or introducing you to ways to meet other people on a similar journey to yours.
Finding out about your history
Adopt London is made up of four regional adoption agencies providing adoption services for 24 London local authorities: Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Havering, Hounslow, Islington, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth. Our contact details can be found on our website here.
However, we recommend the best place to start finding out about your history is via the FamilyConnect website – www.familyconnect.org.uk
This specialist website offers advice and information to help you make your decision, and prepare you to start your search before accessing your adoption records, if that’s what you choose to do. It can also provide up-to-date information about other alternative services to help you look at tracing your relatives, and advice and information about whether to meet up with them.
You can only start this process to access your adoption file yourself if you are over the age of 18. Once you turn 18, you can apply to the General Register Office to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate. The copy will be sent to your local Adoption Support Team in the area in which you live or to the named link person from an Adoption Support Agency of your choice. It will show your birth mother’s name, your original name, date of birth and the area in which your birth was registered.
If you already know the name of the agency or local authority that placed you for adoption, you can contact them directly for access to your adoption records.
The contact details for the Adopted Adults seeking advice in the following Adopt London Regional Adoption Agencies are as follows:
- Adopt London North – Email: email@example.com or call 020 7527 4777 (Option 2)
- Adopt London South – Email: adoptedadultsALS@southwark.gov.uk or call 020 7525 4491
- Adopt London East – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01708 432589
- Adopt London West – Email: email@example.com or call 020 8825 5241
How can I find out about my adoption?
Adoption Agencies are now required to keep files for 100 years.
When your file is located, we will arrange to meet with you to share the information held on record. You may need to make several visits depending on the size of the file and the sensitivity of the information it contains. All third party information has to be removed, so information not directly related to you or your adoption is not shared; this process may take several months.
What if I do not live near London, how can I access my file?
Adopt London cannot post the file directly to you, for data confidentiality reasons. If you cannot come to our offices we can arrange to send your file to a local Regional Adoption Agency in your area. You would need to give us written permission to do so by completing a consent form. The local Regional Adoption Agency will then contact you to make arrangements for you to see the file.
If you live overseas, we can arrange to send a copy of your file to an approved adoption agency in the country where you live. However, you must be aware that adoption agencies outside the UK may operate under different laws.
What will be in my adoption file?
Files will vary in size and volume. In the past, files were smaller as agencies did not collect a large amount of information. Generally, files contain information about the circumstances of your adoption, including medical and health matters. They may also contain letters or photographs, or other items.
Many adopted adults find it helpful to see their file before starting to trace birth family. Seeing the file for the first time can be an emotional experience. Unfortunately, the records may not always be written sensitively and can be upsetting. Adoption agencies can exercise some discretion when sharing the records with you. We will share all information we hold about you and the circumstances of your adoption, unless we are concerned about your welfare or the welfare of others.
We usually give you a copy of your file notes to take away with you. We will give you any original photographs, letters from birth relatives or certificates, but we will always keep a copy on the file. You will not be able to see information relating to other people, which may be held on your file. This could include reports on your adopters or medical reports that are not about you.
Do I need to have counselling?
If you were adopted before 12 November 1975 then you must see a counsellor (normally an Adoption Support Social Worker) before you see the adoption file. If you wish to trace birth relatives, you can use FamilyConnect.org.uk to provide expert advice and to encourage you to think about how the tracing and meeting birth relatives will affect you, your adoptive family, your birth relatives and their family. Your search may not provide the results you would hope for or expect; some family members may not feel able to meet with you.
If you were adopted after 12 November 1975 but before 30th December 2005 you do not have to see a counsellor but this service will be offered to you.
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