Accessing birth records

Information for adopted adults

Many people who have been adopted feel, at some time in their lives, that they would like to find out more about their birth family. Some also decide they would like to meet with their birth family. 

Depending on when you were adopted (before 30 December 2005, or after) will determine how you can get information about your birth history and which agency will support you with both this and contacting birth relatives. 

This page explains how you can get information relating to your birth history and what support Cumbria Adoption can offer.

I was adopted before 30 December 2005

If you are thinking of contacting your birth family, you may find it helpful to receive information from your records about the circumstances of your adoption before making this decision.

If you were adopted before 30 December 2005, your adoption will come under the Pre-Commencement Regulations.

If you are 18 or over, you are legally entitled to have a copy of your original Birth Certificate. You can apply directly to the General Register Office (GRO) for your original birth certificate – the contact details for the GRO are at the end of this page.   

If you were adopted prior to 12 November 1975 then there is a requirement for you to attend a meeting with an Adoption Support social worker prior to the General Register Office (GRO) sending you a copy of your birth certificate. 

You will need to contact GRO who will provide further information about this. 

If you live in Cumberland or Westmorland and Furness, then you can request that your information is sent to Cumbria Adoption, and we will arrange to meet with you to share this. 

How can Cumbria Adoption help?

You are entitled to access your birth records, and if you live in either Cumberland or Westmorland and Furness then Cumbria Adoption can support you with this. 

We will meet with you and support you through the process of getting your birth records. Cumbria Adoption may have your birth records, or we may have to request these from another agency.

If Cumbria Adoption was the agency involved in your adoption, but you live in another local authority area, then you should approach your local adoption agency, who will support you in getting your birth records.

They will contact Cumbria Adoption on your behalf to request any information held by our agency.

What if I want to contact my birth family?

Cumbria Adoption is also a registered Intermediary Agency.

This means we can offer support in both tracing and contacting birth relatives. 

If you live in the areas of Cumberland, and Westmorland and Furness you are welcome to contact the Adoption Support service to discuss how we can help you. 

If you live outside Cumbria, you will need to contact your local Adoption Agency  

You can also contact any agency registered to provide Intermediary Services to approach an adult birth relative on your behalf to see if they would like to have contact with you. 

What if a birth relative wants to contact me?

Birth relatives, aged 18 and over, can apply to a registered Intermediary Agency for a service to let their adopted relative know they would like contact. 

This means there is a possibility that once you are 18 you may receive an approach from an Intermediary Agency acting on behalf of one or more of your birth relatives, to ask you how you would feel about having contact with them.

Your birth relatives cannot be given your adopted name by the Intermediary Agency.

The legislation was set up to ensure they could only ask an Intermediary Agency to approach you on their behalf, so that your privacy would be protected.

It would then be up to you to decide if you want contact and how much information, if any, you wish to give them about yourself.

While birth relatives are encouraged to use Intermediary Agencies some will use social networking sites, such as Facebook, to try to trace adopted relatives.

Increasingly people are contacting us to say they have been found through social networking sites. 

Social network advice

If you are concerned about being contacted through social networks.

•    Keep safe, NEVER give out personal information
•    Keep your profile information hidden
•    Don’t publish the fact that you are adopted
•    If someone contacts you and says they are a member of your birth family, seek support or contact the Adoption Support Team for advice and guidance

What if I do not want an Intermediary Agency to contact me?

If you don’t want an Intermediary Agency to approach you about possible contact with a birth relative, you are legally entitled to block any such approach.

You do this by registering a veto. All adopted adults adopted before 30 December 2005 are entitled to register a veto.

What is a veto?

There are two kinds of veto:

An Absolute Veto. This says that in no circumstances do you wish to be approached by an Intermediary Agency.

A Qualified Veto. This says there are circumstances, set out by yourself, in which you would or would not want an Intermediary Agency to contact you.

For example, you could say that you would want to be contacted only if there were some important medical information that someone needed to pass on to you; or you could say that you would not want to be contacted until, for example you have finished university, or your children have all started school.

How do vetoes work?

If you want to register a veto you have to do it with the Adoption Agency through which you were adopted.

Although your birth relatives can ask any Intermediary Agency to approach you on their behalf, the law forbids that Intermediary Agency from contacting you without first getting in touch with your Adoption Agency.

If your Adoption Agency informs them that you have registered an Absolute Veto the Intermediary Agency is not allowed, in any circumstances, to approach you.

If you have registered a Qualified Veto, they will be allowed to contact you only in the circumstances you have set out.

You can always register an Absolute or Qualified Veto and then change it later. 

How do I register a veto?

If Cumbria Adoption was the agency that arranged your adoption, you can contact us to discuss registering a veto.  

Cumbria Adoption
Adoption Support Team
Cumbria House
107 -117 Botchergate 
Carlisle CA11RD 


Telephone: 0303 333 1216

I was adopted on or after 30 December 2005

If you are adopted on or after 30 December 2005 your adoption will come under the Post Commencement Regulations.

This leaflet Information for adults adopted from December 30, 2005 (PDF, 255K) tells you how you can obtain further information about your adoption.

The Adoption Contact Register

The General Register Office (GRO) operates the Adoption Contact Register.

The purpose of the Register is for adopted people and their birth relatives to register their contact wishes. You can also register a wish for no contact.

You can only apply for entry onto the Contact Register once you have turned 18.

For more information see the Adoption Records section and Adoption Contact Register page of the Government's website.

You can also contact GRO at:

General Register Office
PO Box 2

Telephone: 0300 123 1837


I’m still not sure what I want…

If you would like to have an opportunity to consider all the options and their implications, you are very welcome to contact Cumbria Adoption’s Adoption Support Team on 0303 333 1216 or email

We have a specialist adoption social worker available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm who can discuss your individual circumstances, answer any questions and provide advice.