How to find a child that was adopted

face of possible adopted child looking through hands

We wanted to write a detailed overview of how to find a child that was adopted. If you are looking for an adopted child, then please read on.

To be clear we cannot trace children. The assumption is that you are looking for a child who was adopted but who would be now an adult. Any reference to child or children in this article you can assume they would now be an adult.

If you are the birth relative of a child who was adopted, then it is normal to be curious about their life. We find in our work that people from all walks have life and for many reasons have had children adopted. If you are considering looking for an adopted adult, we understand this will be important to you and we have the training and experience to help. We can help you many ways, but our service is to trace and when you are ready, contact your adopted child. Whilst we do this, we protect you and them by providing support to all parties whilst the service is in place.

We have developed the process for our work here over many years. Our service is provided in line with Ofsted regulations and adoption law. We follow these laws and guidelines to ensure a safe, legal, and ethical service. This applied to both you and the adopted child.

Below is our process. We’d like to go through it to give you a clear understanding of how we can help and why we are so confident in our work.

Step 1 of how to find a child that was adopted

We’ll speak to you and make sure you are aware of all the possible outcomes. Of course, we’ll support you and work hard to get the best possible outcome. It is important to go into a search with your eyes open and that you feel supported and prepared for any outcome. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Step 2

Once you have decided to go ahead, we will process your first payment. Then ensure we have all the correct documents for you. We have to check your identity for example and your connection to the adopted person.

Step 3

We’ll speak to you again and this will be a specific consultation not about the process but about you. This consultation is nothing to worry about, but we want to make sure you feel supported and ready. We also need information from you so we can carry out our searches with the relevant agencies. It is in this consultation that we can clarify the details you have (or don’t have) about the person you are looking for.

Step 4

We’ll contact the relevant agencies to get the information we need to be able to find your adopted child.

Step 5

Once we have the information, we will start work on our research to locate your adopted child. This can be done by our in-house trace team, but we also have access to a wide range of external experts who can help us too.

Step 6

Once we have located them, we’ll be back in touch. This can be a big moment and it’s important that you take time to reflect on this moment and how you might feel. We’ll also process the remaining payment for our work.

Step 7

Contact. We’ll use our tried and tested methods to contact your birth relative and deal with all outcomes from this point forward. We do provide counselling support throughout our process. If you need extra support, we can provide relevant details to other organisations too.

We will support you to deal with the outcome of the search whether that is straightforward or more complex.

Why we would always recommend the use of an Intermediary to contact an adopted child

For most adoptions birth relatives will not know the identity of the adopted person.  There is no current way for a birth relative to be given such information, without the consent of the adopted person.  The adoption contact register is another option, but bear in mind many adoptees do not appear on this, and this does not mean they do not want contact, only that they have not placed their name on there as an adult.

As a registered adoption support agency and intermediary provider, we at JNA have the right of access to the privileged information required to trace adults who have been adopted. 

We would always recommend and advise the use of an intermediary to make any contact on your behalf, even if you knew the current identity of the adopted person. In fact, as part of our service we insist on it. It is important that any adopted child has the chance to discuss how they feel about contact. This should be before contact is demanded by an unwanted knock at the door. You must allow your adopted child to choose to contact us if you want the best outcome for you both.

Adoption Agencies

Most people do not know the identity of an adopted person. After the adoption has taken place their name and details are private and are not a public record. The adoption agency that dealt with that particular adoption would have access to those details. Any adoption support agency would be registered with Ofsted. This means they can liaise with the appropriate adoption agency who would share relevant information to assist the agency with details that can help trace the adoptive person as well as understanding if they have ever contacted the agency and made any thoughts about contact with birth family known. 

Veto’s and how they affect how to find a child that was adopted

Vetos are not commonplace and are very rare, yet they could happen.

Even Adoption agencies are required to take several steps to check that there aren’t any reasons why a person should not be contacted.

It’s important that you liaise with the agency that hold the adoption files. They can also check against the adoption contact register held by the GRO. They do this to see if an adopted adult has pre-registered any wish about contact.

Adopted children in the Uk have the right to register a veto. A veto prevents birth relatives from contacting them.

There are some conditional veto’s such only getting contact with a sibling but not a parent for example. So, they could give circumstances where they were happy with contact and circumstances where they were not.

People we help often worry about veto’s when we talk about them because they might assume that one is on their file. Although vetos exist our experience is there are very few vetos, for the most part people do not register veto’s.

Lack of a veto doesn’t mean that any adopted child will want contact. Most adopted children are not made aware that they can register a veto at all. A veto is something that we must consider.

We find out how people feel about contact when we reach out to them via our Intermediary service. We can ask them and support them to make an informed decision.

Adoptive Parents

Before your search.

You need to be aware that your adopted child will now be an adult. They will have lived a life with a different family. It is usual for them to consider their adopted family to be their family. They will likely see their parents as their ‘real’ parents, so you need to hold those things in mind. This doesn’t mean that they will or won’t want contact. It’s important to consider how they might feel about their adoptive family. We often adopted adults having loyalty to their adoptive family. This isn’t a negative thing and can help us with our process.


If you are considering contacting an adopted child, then please do not worry. We understand that this will have been something you have been considering for many years. We want to reassure you that we provide a safe and secure environment to get answers if you wish to do so. We are happy for you to contact us for a no obligation conversation. You can talk to us to see if we can help trace your adopted child and if this is the best option for you.

Thank you for reading how to find a child that was adopted.

Other useful links related to finding a child that was adopted:

face of possible adopted child looking through hands