Adoption records

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

Early adoptions were informal and unrecorded agreements between people that were not recognised or regulated by any formal process. It was not until 1st January 1927 that adoption as a legal process began in England and Wales. Prior to 1927 anyone 'adopted' was probably what we recognise as fostered. Tracing the natural parents of fostered children in early records can be very difficult.

From 1927 onwards legally adopted people can have two birth certificates; an original birth certificate and a secondary certificate which records their adopted name. Original certificates should include a birth name, a date and place of birth, and both parent's full names (if known). The General Register Office (GRO) began compiling adoption birth certificate registers once legalised adoption was introduced in 1927, and indexes to these registers (formerly housed at the Family Records Centre) can now be found at The National Archives. These registers provide the adopted name of the child and the date of adoption, but not the names of the natural parents.

Adopted people can apply for a copy of their original birth certificate via the General Register Office. The GRO also run the Adoption Contact Register for adopted people and relatives who wish to make contact.

St. Catharine's House has registers of adoption from 1927 onwards.

A website of interest for those searching for birth and adopted relatives is Adoption Search Reunion

Adoption records held by the WYAS:

The initial regulation and administration of adoption proceedings generally fell to the Petty Sessions and local magistrates' courts. The majority of the records concerning adoption held by the WYAS is documentation of these court proceedings; please note these records are not adoption files and do not tend to include much personal information about either the child or their natural/adopted parents. As with all court records, documents which include private or personal information may be subject to access conditions and researchers wishing to view material less than 100 years old are advised to contact the relevant office in advance of their visit.

In the second part of the twentieth century regulation and administration of the adoption process increasingly fell to local authority social services or child welfare departments. Files were again redistrubuted with the changed to local authority divisions in 1974. Unfortunately, the WYAS does not hold any significant collections of local authority adoption files and it is assumed many have been lost or destroyed. For additonal information see [1]

The West Riding Public Assistance Committee Minutes (RC24/1-2) 1930-1943 give details of children taken into care by the Council, together with some mentioning of those sent for adoption.

Adoption records are not only listed in adoption registers but also in court orders as part of Petty Session records.

Adoption Records Held Outside WYAS:

Wakefield MDC has several old West Riding Children's Office files. All contact must be via social workers on 01924 303456

It is understood that records for South Yorkshire are at Sheffield Archives

West Riding Children's Office files for North Yorkshire are now c/o North Yorkshire Social Services. Telephone 01609 780780

Description Dates Ref Repository
Batley Borough Court: register of adoptions (records not held by WYAS) 1928-1946 P11/122 Batley Court
Bradford City Court: registers of adoptions (records not held by WYAS) 1927-1963 P16/6/1-3 Bradford Magistrates
Brighouse Borough Petty Sessions: registers of adoptions (records not held by WYAS) 1929-1973 P10/36 Brighouse Magistrates
Halifax Borough Court: register of adoptions with index 1927-1943 P21/111 WYAS: Wakefield
Keighley Division Petty Sessions: register of adoption of children 1932-1955 P3/1 WYAS: Wakefield
Keighley Division Petty Sessions (Court at Bingley): duplicate adoption orders and papers 1928-1969 P2/6/5 WYAS: Wakefield
Lower Agbrigg Petty Sessions: registers of adoptions with index (not complete series - 1927-1944, 1955-1968) 1927-1968 P7/100-101 WYAS: Wakefield
Lower Agbrigg Petty Sessions: duplicate adoption orders and papers (not complete series - 1933-1935, 1952-1974) 1933-1974 P7/120 WYAS: Wakefield
Lower Agbrigg Petty Sessions: complaint book regarding orders re guardianship 1958-1974 P7/121-122 WYAS: Wakefield
Ossett Borough Petty Sessions: registers of adoptions 1927-1974 P9/29-30 WYAS: Wakefield
Ossett Borough Petty Sessions: duplicate adoption orders and papers 1962-1974 P9/39 WYAS: Wakefield
Otley Petty Sessions: registers of adoptions 1927-1972 P5/49-51 WYAS: Wakefield
Otley Petty Sessions: duplicate adoption orders (not complete series - dates include 1932, 1953-1969). Note: orders 1970-1974 available at Otley Court House 1932-1969 P5/67 WYAS: Wakefield
Otley Petty Sessions: duplicate care orders. Note: orders 1965-1975 available at Otley Court House 1949-1954 P5/70 WYAS: Wakefield
Pontefract Borough Court: registers of adopted children (some indexed) 1929-1962 P25/4/1-2 WYAS: Wakefield
Wakefield Borough Court: registers of adoptions (indexed) 1927-1974 P8/166-180 WYAS: Wakefield
Wakefield Borough Court: duplicate adoption orders and papers 1930-1974 P8/198 WYAS: Wakefield