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Getting information about your adoption

If you were adopted in Scotland you should be able to find information about your adoption:

  • on your birth certificate
  • in adoption records

Birth certificate

If you were born in Scotland, your birth certificate (sometimes called a 'birth entry') should show:

  • the place and time of your birth
  • your original name
  • your birth mother's name
  • her job, if recorded
  • your biological father's name, if recorded
  • the name of the person who registered your birth, and their relationship to you, if recorded

If you're not able to find your birth certificate you can get a copy from the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

You can also contact the NRS Adoption Unit by:

Adoption records

These are court records about your adoption - they can also be known as an 'adoption order'.

Adoption records should have:

  • a copy of your birth certificate
  • a report made to the court at the time of the adoption
  • something from the adopting parents saying they want to adopt you - this is called a 'petition'
  • the name of any adoption agency involved
  • confirmation from the birth mother that the adoption can go ahead (and sometimes from the birth father)
  • confirmation from the court that the adoption may go ahead

Some adoption records have more information than others.

Who can look at adoption records

You can look at adoption records if you're the person who was adopted, as long as you're 16 or over.

You can also look at adoption records if you're:

  • given permission in writing by the adopted person - a copy of this must be shown when going to look at the records
  • working for an organisation that deals with adoptions, or a social worker, and you're given permission in writing by the adopted person

If you can't get written permission from the adopted person, for example if they're too ill, you may still be allowed to look at the adoption records. You'll need to apply to the court where the adoption records are held for permission.

Where to find your adoption records

If you were adopted less than 25 years ago, your records should be held by the court where the adoption order was made. Contact the court to arrange to see your records:

Visit Aberdeen Sheriff Court Visit Airdrie Sheriff Court Visit Alloa Sheriff Court Visit Ayr Sheriff Court Visit Banff Sheriff Court Visit Campbeltown Sheriff Court Visit Dumbarton Sheriff Court Visit Dumfries Sheriff Court Visit Dundee Sheriff Court Visit Dunfermline Sheriff Court Visit Dunoon Sheriff Court Visit Edinburgh Sheriff Court Visit Elgin Sheriff Court Visit Falkirk Sheriff Court Visit Forfar Sheriff Court Visit Fort William Sheriff Court Visit Glasgow Sheriff Court Visit Greenock Sheriff Court Visit Hamilton Sheriff Court Visit Inverness Sheriff Court Visit Jedburgh Sheriff Court Visit Kilmarnock Sheriff Court Visit Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court Visit Kirkwall Sheriff Court Visit Lanark Sheriff Court Visit Lerwick Sheriff Court Visit Livingston Sheriff Court Visit Lochmaddy Sheriff Court Visit Oban Sheriff Court Visit Paisley Sheriff Court Visit Perth Sheriff Court Visit Peterhead Sheriff Court Visit Portree Sheriff Court Visit Selkirk Sheriff Court Visit Stirling Sheriff Court Visit Stornoway Sheriff Court Visit Stranraer Sheriff Court Visit Tain Sheriff Court Visit Wick Sheriff Court

Your birth certificate may say where your adoption records are. Or if you know you were adopted in a particular area or city, contact the Sheriff Court for that area or city.

If the adoption was more than 25 years ago

Courts usually give the records to the NRS after 25 years. You should contact the NRS Adoption Unit if you want to find out about an adoption that was more than 25 years ago:

If you're not sure

You can get help if you're not sure how to find your adoption records.

The Adoption Search Reunion website has a database to help you find your adoption records.

Further information is available on the NRS's adoption records guide.

Further support

Adoption Contact Register for Scotland

The Adoption Contact Register for Scotland can help put you in contact with:

  • your birth parents
  • a child you've put up for adoption

Joining the register

To join the register you need to have been involved in an adoption with close links to Scotland, such as if:

  • you were born or adopted in Scotland,
  • you're the birth parent of a child adopted in Scotland
  • you're a birth relative, such as a birth parent or grandparent, and you were born in Scotland

If you were adopted or born elsewhere in the UK, you can also register with the Adoption Contact Register for the UK.

Find out more information about the Adoption Contact Register, or register, on the Birthlink website.

Scottish Adoption

Scottish Adoption offers support services for adults who were adopted as children, parents and birth family members. They cover Edinburgh, West Lothian, East Lothian and Midlothian.

If you live in a different area, your local council social work department can help you find an adoption support service.


Barnardo's Scottish Adoption Advice Service is based in Glasgow. The office is at: Building 10000, Academy Park, Gower Street, Glasgow G51 1PR.

You can contact them by telephone: 0141 419 4796.

St Andrew's Childrens Society

St Andrew's Childrens Society offer support for adopted adults and their birth families to trace each other when this is appropriate.

Contact them by telephone:

  • 0131 454 3370 for the Edinburgh office
  • 01224 878 158 for the Aberdeen office


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