For genealogists and family historians adoption can be a difficult task. Firstly because it is a sensitive subject and for many people a very upsetting and traumatic experience. Not only for the adoptee but also for the family and relatives involved. Researching can bring up many painful memories and events that happened years ago, so when researching its best to respect this when asking people questions. However on the other hand it might be known to the adoptee and family and they are willing to help with your research, or you might be the adoptee wanting to research yourself. It is the unknown and like opening a can of worms, with many unanswered questions.
However as a family researcher when you come across an ancestor or living relative that’s been adopted it can be very hard to trace them, mainly because of the fact that only the adoptee can apply for his or her original birth certificate. Therefore unless you’re the adoptee you will struggle to find out any information. Each individual case is different.
Adoption only became legal in 1926 for England and Wales and while in Northern Ireland it was 1929 and in Scotland it was 1930. The following year in 1927 was when The Adopted Children Register was granted by the courts for adoption records.
Before 1927 things were done differently either through organisations, or directly between the birth mother and adopting parents, and in some cases agreements may have been drawn up by lawyers and done privately. (If it was done privately it can make records much harder to trace).
From The Adopted Children Register (which is held at the General Registar Office) there will be an adoption certificate for the child which will state the following:
* Date of birth
* Place and country of birth
* Adoptive forename
* Adoptive surname
* Name and surname of adoptive parents
* Address and occupation of adoptive parents
* Date of adoption order
* Date on which adoption was granted
* Name of the court
If you have found results you can now add this to your family tree and document it. However if you are looking to make contact with living relatives it is advisable to write them a letter. Explaining you’re researching the family and then leave it in their hands whether or not they want to write back and reunite.