National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Adoption Records

Adoption Records

For further advice please see also our Adoption page in the Registration area of this website.

Adoptions Before 1930

Before 1930 adoptions were arranged on a private basis, either by individuals or by one of a number of charitable adoption agencies.  We do not hold records for adoptions before 1930.

Adoptions After 1930

The Adoption of Children (Scotland) Act, 1930 introduced legal adoption into Scotland from that year. Adoptions since then have been arranged by charitable bodies or by local authority social work departments and then ratified by the civil courts. The majority of adoptions are ratified through the local sheriff courts, although a tiny number (perhaps two or three each year) are settled through the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Adopted Children's Register

The Registrar General for Scotland has maintained the Adopted Children Register since 1930. It is a register of persons adopted under orders made by the Scottish courts. There are no entries relating to persons born before October 1909.

Advice and Counselling

The following services offer counselling and advice:

  • Barnardo's Scottish Adoption Advice Service, Building 10000, Academy Park, Gower Street, Glasgow G51 1PR (telephone 0141 419 4796)
  • Birthlink, 21 Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3DN (telephone 0131 225 6441)
  • Birthlink maintains the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland. Adopted people, birth parents and birth relatives can use this register to note their wish for contact or otherwise. Birthlink also keeps a register of the whereabouts of adoption records, particularly those arranged by local authorities and adoption services.
  • Scottish Adoption provides counselling and holds records of adoptions it has arranged as well as those arranged by Edinburgh and Lothian Social Work Department, the Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Its address is 161 Constitution Street, Edinburgh EH6 7DF (telephone 0131 553 5060).
  • The Adoption Search Reunion website is run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). It aims to help anyone thinking about searching for, or making contact with, birth and adopted relatives or researching an adoption that took place in the United Kingdom. It has a useful online database for locating adoption records, which allows you to search for the most likely holder of the adoption records created by a home (maternity, mother and baby, shelter, etc), organisation or local authority involved in the birth or adoption, or a staff member who worked in one of these homes or organisations. The address for BAAF is: Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS
  • Counselling Directory was set up by a team, who through their own experiences, have learnt how the right support can help transform lives. To ensure the professionalism of our website, all counsellors have provided us with qualifications and insurance cover or proof of membership with a professional body. With over 10,000 qualified counsellors listed on the site; visitors are able to find a counsellor in their local area appropriate for their needs. The directory contains information on adoption which covers statistics, the adoption process, adoption concerns, adoption law and how counselling can help with the adoption process.
  • Health in Mind provides specialist support through peer support groups to those affected by historic adoptions. The peer support groups are open for self-referrals and further details are available online.
Legal Records 

For information or advice regarding legal records of Adoptions, please visit the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website

Things to Do Before Coming to Inspect Adoption Papers

If you want to see your adoption papers please do not visit us without notice. We can only see visitors who have made a prior appointment. 

The advance notice will allow us to check that we do in fact have the appropriate records. To make an appointment please email us at [email protected]

I Want to See my Adoption Papers. Can I Bring a Friend or Relative with Me?


What Information will the Adoption Process Contain?

The adoption court process will normally contain:

  • a copy of the original birth certificate
  • an official report to the court at the time of the adoption
  • a petition by the adopting parents
  • the consent of the birth mother (occasionally the consent of the birth father)
  • the name of any adoption agency involved
  • confirmation from the court that the adoption may go ahead.

Please be aware that some adoption processes contain minimal information and sometimes nothing.