Help for birth relatives

Help for birth relatives

Support and counselling


Birth Relative Support is an independent support and counselling service which provides support for adults affected by the adoption of a child. This support is offered by PAC UK.


If a plan for adoption is being considered for a child, birth relatives will be entitled a range of service including:

  • Counselling and written information about adoption and what it means.
  • Their wishes and feelings about the plan for adoption being taken into consideration for example, views on a child’s religion.
  • Access to an independent birth relative support worker who is not involved with the planning for the child but can offer support and answer questions.


An Independent Birth Relative Support Worker can provide:

  • An assessment of your support needs at any stage.
  • Counselling, advice and information about adoption and its implications for you and your child.
  • Emotional support with feelings of grief and loss.
  • Help with the contact you have with your child, including your goodbye contact.
  • Preparation for, and support at, a one-off meeting with the prospective adopters, if appropriate.
  • Help with ongoing indirect (letterbox) contact.
  • Information about other organisations you can contact for support/advice.
  • Help with writing a letter to be held on file for your child in later life.


Contacting a child after adoption


In all cases, contact arrangements will be made according to the child’s best interests. There are several types of contact, including direct and letterbox contact.


Direct contact


This is when the child and birth relatives meet face-to-face.


These meetings may sometimes be supervised by a social worker and adoptive parents will also attend. Direct contact is less common than letterbox contact and is more likely to be part of the plan for older children.


Letterbox contact


This is when birth and adoptive parents share news in writing (and sometimes photos) through our Letterbox Service. Most letterbox arrangements are voluntary and cannot be enforced. They usually take place once a year.


The Letterbox Administrator will read all the letters to make sure that they are suitable to be sent on and will keep copies so that replacements can be provided if letters get lost or damaged. All the information passed through the service is treated as confidential.


When an adopted child reaches 18


Once an adopted child reaches 18, birth relatives and adopted adults can contact each other.

However, there are tight regulations to make sure that no identifying information can be passed on without the consent of the adopted person. They can place a veto or partial veto on any contact. Birth relatives are also able to express informed consent about an adopted adult contacting them.


Tracing and contacting an adopted adult


Under the Access to Information Regulations 2005, birth relatives are allowed to seek out information about their adopted relative. They can then try to trace and contact them.


Adoption support and intermediary agencies, such as PAC UK are able to offer tracing and intermediary services for birth relatives of adopted adults. Both the applicant and the adopted person must be aged 18 or over, and the applicant will need to be able to prove their relationship to the adopted person.


The Adoption Contact Register


You can add yourself to the Adoption Contact Register at the General Register Office to:

  • Find a birth relative or an adopted person.
  • Say you don’t want to be contacted.

This is not a tracing service – for a connection to be made between people, you must both be on the Adoption Contact Register.