Birth family

Adoption means the permanent transfer of parental responsibility. This is such an important thing to happen to a child’s life, that the law requires adoption agencies (like us, Devon Adoption) and courts to make sure that they put the child’s long-term welfare first when they make decisions about adoption.

We at Devon Adoption, as a local authority, however cannot make such an arrangement legally binding. Only the court can do this, by the making of an adoption order. This ends the child’s legal relationships with the birth family and gives the child new parents. The child becomes a full member of the adoptive family, the same as being born to the adopters.

Know your rights as birth parents. Find out more here.

Devon Adoption’s Birth Family Support Service offers free and confidential one-to-one support and advice to birth families affected by adoption at any stage of the process.

Download documentBirth parents guide to adoption PDF download

Download document8. Life Story Book factsheet PDF download


Birth parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters of the adopted child may suffer feelings of grief, loss, anger, guilt, depression and confusion. These feelings can be around long after the adoption has happened.

Counselling and talking to others can help you feel less isolated and enable you to explore the painful and difficult feelings around adoption. It can also help you to understand the process. The child’s social worker may talk to you about this service but you can refer yourself at any time by contacting your Support Counsellor through Devon Adoption on 0345 155 1076.

It is considered better for the child to grow up knowing their origins and for adoptive parents to encourage this. All adopters have training in the importance of talking with an adopted child about their origins and supporting contact with their birth family if this has been agreed.

Many adopted children have clear, valuable memories of their birth families, previous carers and relatives and contact with these people may help the adoption be more successful.

Types of contact with adopted children

There are two types of contact which can help adopted children keep in touch with their birth families:

  • direct contact – arranged face to face meetings
  • indirect contact – through letters and referred to as letterbox

Letterbox is the most common form of contact for adopted children. See factsheet:

Download document5. Letterbox Service factsheet  PDF download

Your social worker will also give you advice and information about how it works.


Will my child be able to find me after adoption?

At the age of 18, people who were adopted can legally apply to the get a copy of the original birth certificate.

There is a national Adoption Contact Register, which helps to put adopted people and their birth family in contact with each other if this is what they both want.

You record your name and contact address on this register, then if your adopted adult child chooses to trace you, they can get information about you from the register. It is up to your child to decide whether or not to contact you.

You can find more information about this in our Adopted adults web page.