30. Steps to find birth parents

Steps. Steps to find birth parents

Steps we will take once we are ready to contact your birth parent or birth family relative.

Our clients are often curious about what we are doing behind the scenes to contact their birth parent or birth family relative, so we want to tell you more about this and answer some of your questions. This information may also be helpful if you are the subject of a search because you will understand the process and why we are doing this.

We will already have spent weeks or even months going through Due Process and taking reasonable steps to contact the General Register Office and Appropriate Adoption Agency (the agency responsible for the adoption now). This is so that we can understand if there has been any other contact since the adoption to inform our approach, and to check if anyone has placed a veto/no contact wish on your file to say that they do not want contact. Both a veto and no contact wishes are very rare, but the legislation requires we check for this. Once this is established and we have done as much as we can to find the file, we then proceed in making contact.

  1. Using the expertise of our tracing expert Dave Oates we will establish the current address and contact details of your relative. We will then ask you to prepare your contact letter.
  2. Our first letter to your birth relative will go out. We will tell them about our service and our registration with Ofsted. In the case of a birth relative, we will explain that someone, to whom we understand them to be related, is trying to trace them on a matter related to adoption. For a letter to an adopted adult, we will be less specific as it is possible some adopted adults are unaware of being adopted.

    We will ensure that the subject of the search understands their rights in the following:
  • To use our service for support.
  • Their identity and data will be protected at all times.
  • How we will put you in touch if they are ready.
  • To say no to contact if this is not right for them.
  • Preferably to talk with us about this so that we can convey their wishes to you.
  • Once we have sent off this first contact letter, we will contact you to let you know that the letter has been posted. We will remind you to contact us if you need support, as there may be an anxious wait and we will be holding on for up to one month for a response. Do e-mail or phone if you need our support during that time. See our leaflet No 28 on Managing Anxiety:
  1. If your birth relative wishes to be in touch at this stage, we will then go through the intermediary process and help you to start to speak with one another directly if agreed. The exact way that this happens will be discussed on a case-by-case basis. We do this once we have made a risk assessment of the subject and their particular needs.
  2. If the birth relative does not wish to be in touch at this stage, we will ask them if they would like to receive your letter none the less and make any comment or give any helpful information such as birth information, genetic health information or indeed pass you a letter explaining their wishes.
  3. If we do not hear back from the subject of the search at all – we will have allowed one month. Following this we will send a second letter. We will send this special delivery so that someone has to sign for the letter, and if they do, we know that our contact is being received by the right person.
  4. In this second letter we will make response even easier by putting in a stamped addressed envelope and a simple tick box response indicating which direction the subject wishes to go in. In this letter we indicate that we do need a clear indication of their wishes so that we can either close the file or proceed to contact. The subject will know to phone us, e-mail us or write to us. We usually have an 85 percent response rate of some description at this stage. We will wait one more month for a response.
  5. We will remind you that a second letter has been sent, and we will invite you to talk with us about how you are feeling at this stage. We receive many responses after a second letter, and so it is not necessarily bad news. You may feel anxious, and we will remind you to let us know if you need added support or just to chat so that you know we are still working on the matter.
  6. If no response is received from a second letter, we may start to think about other methods of contact. Things like social media or through direct e-mail or phone, but this will be managed on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the information available.
  7. If we do not get any response to a second letter, and we are sure that this has definitely being received, we will send out a third and final letter. It is a final letter because we believe that a no response at this stage is quite clear (although sometimes people tell us they were nervous to respond and so we always keep a hopeful and open mind).
  8. We will start to prepare you for the idea that we may not get a response, and again our counsellors are on hand if you need extra support or just a conversation about what is happening. We may, if we think appropriate, include your contact letter in third response, but we will only do this if we are 100 per cent sure that it is going to be received into the right hands and we have to be very cautious.
  9. Our third letter assumes that the subject does not wish to respond, and we will assure them that their data will be kept safe and that our service is always open if they wish to contact us in the future. Sometimes we do get a response when we write this third letter.
  10. We don’t feel that further contact is appropriate after these final efforts. In our view it is never wise to push further as this may be construed as harassment and would not bode well for the future. We have no wish to cause distress or upset to the subjects of any search, and this is the point of the intermediary service.
  11. Finally, if there is no response, we will talk with you extensively about next steps, such as the appropriateness of finding other birth family members, or closing the case. You will of course have many questions you may wish to have answered.

Some of your questions answered.

Why can’t you just write and tell them it’s me?

Our approach has been developed over many years and we believe it is the right one. Most people we write to will have an idea how adoption has affected them and so will naturally draw a conclusion about who maybe looking. However, by not including such details we leave a natural curiosity for people to want to know more, and to engage in a conversation with us. We also find many people who we write to may live with others who could see this letter. These people maybe unaware of the situation and we may place the subject of your search in a very difficult position by including too much information.

Why can’t you just give them my data?

Whilst many of our clients will be happy to share data with the subject of their search, we feel it better to follow due process. Firstly, if information is shared, you won’t know how or if that information will ever be used. We take great care to safeguard all people we work with, and don’t believe that sharing information is appropriate.

Why don’t you give them my contact letter straight away?

Contacting people separated through adoption is always a sensitive matter. Its important to understand more from the subject of a search before sharing information, especially as some information shared in your letter maybe difficult for them to process. We want to ensure we support them in understanding this, and also collect feedback to relay to you as our client in how they responded to your letter.

Why can’t I just ring them?

Every subject we contact is always surprised by our approach, even where they may have anticipated it would happen one day. Sending a letter as the first point of contact allows people time to process an approach and to respond when the time is right for them. If we were to call when they were not in a private place, or people were close by who were unaware of the situation, this could result in a negative response. So, we want to ensure that we

create the best circumstances we can for all subjects to respond in a way that works for them, but in turn is the best response any of our clients can hope for.

Contact us if you need further information

Dr. Joanna North

Consultant Psychotherapist (Adoption)

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

Steps. Steps to find birth parents