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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington


Information about adoption records for County Durham and who to contact.

Adoption before 1927

Before 1927 there was no legal process of adoption in England and Wales. It is very difficult to trace any earlier records of private fostering arrangements.

Adoption from 1927

The Adoption of Children Act, 1926 introduced legal adoption in England and Wales.  It came into operation on 1 January 1927.

Find information about records of adoption which took place from 1927 onwards, and who to contact, on the following websites:

Durham County Council support for adopted adults.

The independent DFW Adoption agency, based in Durham, is now part of Adoption Matters (from 1 April 2019). Formerly known as the Durham Family Welfare Association, it has acted as the adoption agency of Durham Diocese since 1926.  It holds the records of around 10,000 adoptions made in the last 80 years.  The records prior to 1976 are very sparse.

Barnardos making connections service has advice about children adopted through the Barnardo's charity. 

GOV.UK information about adoption records includes advice on tracing and contacting birth relatives and adopted adults.

The Adoption Search Reunion website provides useful information for adopted people who are considering searching or wishing to make contact with their birth family, including brothers and sisters. Adoption Search Reunion also includes details of locating adoption records.