Children's Home Records
Prior to 1927, child adoption in England and Wales was arranged on an informal basis by many organisations including workhouse authorities, orphanages and other children's institutions. However, such placements gave the adoptive parents no legal rights. A child's biological parents could turn up at any time and demand it be returned to their custody. This situation was changed by the Adoption of Children Act of 1926 which introduced a legally regulated adoption system. Similar legislation was enacted in Scotland in 1930 and in Northern Ireland in 1931.
On January 1st, 1927, a central Adopted Children Register was created to record the basic details of all adoptions under the new system. Children adopted from this date can apply to find out their original birth record — see the government's Adoption Records web page for details.
Another government-run service is the Adoption Contact Register which allows you to:
- Find a birth relative or an adopted person
- Say that you don't want to be contacted
For any surviving records regarding the adoption process itself (possibly including pre-1927 'adoptions'), you will need to contact the organisation or institution that arranged the adoption, or the successor body that inherited any such records. A very useful resource to help locate adoption records is available at the Adoption Search Reunion website.
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