Below are some guidelines on how to use the Locating adoption records database to find out where adoption records are held.
This database is designed to help you find the most likely location of records relating to your adoption or the adoption of your child or birth relative and to provide contact details for the likely record holder.
You can use this database to identify a home or organisation that was involved in either your adoption, or the adoption of your child or birth relative. Once you have identified a home or organisation as having played a role in the adoption, you will, in most cases, have a good chance of finding out where the records relating to that home or organisation are now held. However you should be aware that the records holders for some homes and organisations have not yet been traced, and even when they have been identified, the collection may not be complete. There is therefore no guarantee that you will be able to track down the adoption file that is of interest to you.
Find out more about the database and how it was set up
Top of page
You can begin searching the database from 4 different starting points – a Home, an Organisation, a Local Authority or a Staff Member in a home or organisation. Your starting point will depend on the information you have or remember about the adoption. Here are some examples of how the database can be used:
If you are a birth mother:
- You might know the name of the mother and baby home where you went to have your baby and would therefore use the Home search.
- You might remember the name of the organisation that was involved in placing your baby for adoption and so would use the Organisation search.
- You might know that a particular local authority was involved in your care or in placing your baby for adoption and could then use the Local Authority search option to find out if they hold any records.
- You might only remember the name of someone who was involved in placing your baby for adoption or worked in the home where you stayed and could then use the Staff member search to find out the name of a home or organisation.
If you are an adopted person:
- You might know from your birth certificate the address of the place where you were born. You could use the Home search to find out if this is the address of a mother and baby or similar home.
- You might know the name of the organisation that was involved in finding an adoptive placement for you and so could use the Organisation search to find out more about this organisation.
- You might know that a particular local authority was involved in placing you for adoption and so you would use the Local Authority search to find out if they hold any records.
If you are a birth relative:
Read more about starting your search
- You might know the name of the mother and baby, or similar home, where your birth relative was born, and so would use the Home search.
- You might know the organisation that was involved in finding an adoptive family for your birth relative and so could use the Organisation search.
- You might know that a particular local authority was involved in placing your birth relative for adoption and so could use the Local Authority search to find out if they hold any records.
Top of page Here are some general rules that will help you to get the best results from the database:
- The database will treat whatever you type into the search box as a phrase. This means that even if you know both the name and town of an organisation you should always search for each piece of information separately. For example – if you enter Royal Female Orphanage London you won’t get any matching results, but if you search for either Royal Female Orphanage or London you will find results.
- It is generally best to type in less rather than more. If you try to search for a complete address or a full name you are less likely to make a match in the database. For example - you should type in Randall rather than Miss Mary Randall.
- Try not to use very common words in your searches. For example - if you are looking for Sunderland Deanery Adoption Society and type in Adoption Society you would get over 60 results, most of which will be of no interest to you. However, if you type in Sunderland or deanery you would get under 5 results, which are more likely to be relevant to your search.
- If you aren’t sure of the exact spelling try typing in only a part of the word – for example wyc would be enough to find all homes or organisations based in High Wycombe.
- The database doesn't include full stops in Saints' names, so you should always search for St rather than St..
- When searching for Saints' names, don't include an 's' at the end of the name. This is because some homes/organisations on the database use an apostrophe 's', and others don’t, so it is therefore safer to search for Joseph without any 's' as this will pick up both Joseph’s and Josephs.
Top of page
No results found
If the keyword you enter does not match anything in the database, you will get a message in red type explaining that you should try again. Please read the general tips and try to simplify or shorten your keyword before trying again.
If your keyword does match an entry or entries in the database, these will be displayed in an alphabetical list below the search box. You can choose to look at the detailed display for any item on this results list by clicking on the home, organisation or local authority name, which will be shown in green.
Please note that all the information we have about Staff members is displayed in this results list, but you have the option of clicking on the name of the organisation or home that they worked for.
This will take you to a more detailed page for that entry, which shows all the details we have for that home or organisation. It is here that details about what records are available and where they are held will be provided, with a link to the record holder. You can then click on the name of the record holder, which can be a record office, an organisation or a local authority, to get further information and contact details.
Word of warning
Please be aware that there is no guarantee that the adoption records you are trying to locate will be available from the record holder suggested on this database. The information provided is, to the best of our knowledge, correct, but inevitably some files will be unavailable for one reason or another.
You can enter either the name of the home or any part of its address, including street name, town or county. Whatever text you enter will be searched for in the home name, street name, town name and county name. So, if you type in high the results will include all records where high was found in either the name, street, town or county. For example:
- Highlands, 52 Belstead Road, Ipswich
- Sacred Heart Convent, Highgate West Hill, Camden
- The Grange, 56 Amersham Hill, High Wycombe
Open or closed
Almost all homes included on this database are now closed so the address you see in the results list is the address where the home was once located.
Some homes moved from address to address over the years and each different address will appear as a separate entry in the database. So, if you tried searching for Cambridge Shelter for Girls you'd find it appears three times in the results list as shown here:
- Cambridge Shelter for Girls, 14 Downing Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
- Cambridge Shelter for Girls, 6 Glisson Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
- Cambridge Shelter for Girls, 13 Hertford Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Just click on the home with the correct address to view the full results and find out where the records are now held.
Homes with no name
Not every home had a name (or possibly we just don't know the name), and in this situation the first line of the address has been used in place of the name. So, for example, if you know that the home you're interested was on Sloane Street, but haven't got the name, just type in Marylebone and the results will look like this:
- 157-159 Marylebone Road, Westminster, Greater London
- St James House of Refuge, 15 St Marylebone Street, Westminster, Greater London
Top of page Search fields
You can enter either the name of the organisation or any part of its address, including street name, town or county. Whatever text you enter will be searched for in the organisation name, street name, town name and county name. So, if you type in south the results will include all records where south was found in either the name, street, town or county. For example:
- Southwell Diocesan Council for Family Care, Warren House, 2 Pelham Court, Pelham Road, Nottingham NG5 1AP
- Baptist Union Adoption Society, 4 Southampton Row, London WC1
- Jarrow Deanery Adoption Society, 29 King Street, South Shields, Northumberland
Current and previous addresses
Many of the organisations in the database still exist and operate today. If this is the case you will see a current address for that address in the results list. If n/a is shown next to current in the results list it means that that organisation has closed. If both a current and previous address are shown it means that the organisation is still operating but has been based in different locations in previous years.
Just click on the name of any organisation appearing in the results list to go to the page showing full the details.
Top of page Search fields
You can enter either the name of the local authority, or any part of its address, including street name, town or county. Whatever text you enter will be searched for in the local authority's name, street name, town name and county name. So, if you type in stafford the results will include all records where stafford was found in either the name, street, town or county. For example:
- Staffordshire County Council, Adoption Options, 190 Horninglow St, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 1NG
- Stoke on Trent City Council, Family Placement Services, Grove Road, Fenton, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, ST4 3AY
Over the years there have been a number of changes in physical boundaries and name changes for county and local authority areas, which has created some confusion when it comes to searching. Local authorities in this database are listed only under their current title. This may mean that you need to try searching for the town or county name instead of the local authority name, or you could visit this website to work out which current county name matches the name you have.
Just click on the name of any local authority appearing in the results list to go to the page showing full the details.
Top of page Search fields
You can enter either the name of the person, or the town or county that they worked in. Whatever text you enter will be searched for in the person’s name, the town name and county name. So, if you type in field, the results will include all records where field was found in either the person’s name, town or county. For example:
- Donnelly, D K, Mr, Sheffield and District Child Adoption Association
- Field, Miss, Families for Children Adoption Agency
The information displayed includes the person's name and the name of the home or organisation that they worked for on the first line, and underneath their job title, the area they worked in and the dates of employment if these are known.
Please note that all of the information we have about Staff members is displayed in the brief results list, but you will be able to click on the name of the organisation or home that they worked for in order to find out where their records are now.
Top of page