· General questions · FAQs for Adopted Adults and Birth Parents/ Relatives · FAQs for Adoptive Parents, Special Guardians, Other Permanent Carers, Prospective Adopters · FAQs for Professionals

General questions:

What kinds of services does PAC-UK provide?

PAC-UK's purpose is to provide anyone who has been affected by adoption or other forms of permanent care, as well as the professionals who support them, with expert, independent advice and counselling.

Visit Our Services page for more information.

How do I get services from PAC-UK?

You can phone our Advice Line on 020 7284 5879 (London) or 0113 230 2100 (Leeds) to discuss the support you are looking for with one of our Advice Line counsellors. If your local authority (the authority you pay your council tax to) has a service level agreement (SLA) with us, you may be entitled to some services free of charge. If it does not have an SLA with us your local authority can purchase a service from us on your behalf, or you can fund the service yourself. If you are an adoptive parent and your child has been adopted for less than 3 years, you may be able to access a service from PAC-UK if your child’s placing authority has an SLA with us.

Which local authorities have a service level agreement with PAC-UK?

The table below lists the local authorities which currently have a service level agreement with PAC-UK (correct as at 16 June 2017):

PAC-UK Subscribing Local Authorities 2017-18 (correct as at 16 June 2017)


I live in a subscribing local authority. How do I go about requesting a service from PAC-UK?

You can call our Advice Line, email advice@pac-uk.org or contact us using this enquiry form and discuss the services available through your local authority. If we can, we will offer you an appointment at this point. If that is not possible we will advise you on the next steps to accessing a service from PAC-UK.

How much does it cost to get a service from PAC-UK if my local authority does not subscribe?

The cost depends on the type of service requested. Services range from intensive therapeutic work with families to individual counselling sessions and group work. We have tried to make our costs as low as possible, however we recognise that we offer a specialist service, with counsellors and therapists who are expert in the field of adoption support and therefore services are priced accordingly. Please call our Advice Line to discuss the services we offer and the associated costs.

Adopted Adults and Birth Parents/Relatives:

I am an adopted adult. How can I find out more about my adoption? 

The starting place is to obtain your original birth certificate via an application to the General Register Office. The birth certificate contains the following information:

  • the original name of the adopted person
  • the name of the birth mother and sometimes the birth father if he was either married to the birth mother at the time of birth or accompanied the birth mother when the child’s birth was registered
  • the address of the birth parent(s)
  • the place and address of the child’s birth (in Scotland, the birth certificate also shows the time of birth)

There are different rules for obtaining your birth certificate that apply for people adopted before and after 15th November 1975, when new legislation was brought in. There is full information about how to obtain your original birth certificate and accessing adoption records here.

I am an adopted adult. I want to trace my birth parent/birth sibling – how do I go about it?

Occasionally, the adoption agency involved will have the recent contact details for birth family members but far more often they only have the information from the time of the adoption and it will be necessary to trace any relatives. There is a helpful guide to tracing here. PAC-UK’s Advice Line can help locate private tracing agencies who can be commissioned to undertake the tracing for you. However, it is important that the first contact with the birth family member is done carefully by a third party in order to increase the chances of a positive response. PAC-UK is registered to be able to offer intermediary services and a referral, or signposting to a more local service, can be made by calling the Advice Line.

I want to trace my birth child/birth sibling who was adopted – how do I go about it?

Birth parents and/or relatives who wish to make contact are now legally entitled to request an intermediary service. The initial approach should be through a local authority, an adoption agency or an adoption support agency. More information can be obtained from the Adoption, Search and Reunion website. Birthlink offers advice on adoptions that were formalised in Scotland.

I would like some counselling in relation to adoption but I do not live in one of the PAC-UK subscribing boroughs – where can I go for this?

If you are looking for counselling specifically relating to adoption issues, according to adoption legislation you need to find a counsellor who is registered with Ofsted as an Adoption Support Agency.  This ensures that the counsellor is experienced and knowledgeable about adoption. You can search for a registered counsellor on the Ofsted website in their section of inspection reports of adoption support agencies. You need to select “adoption support agency” as the provider type and search by your postcode. Barnardo’s Link Counselling service is an adoption support agency of adoption counsellors and therapists and you can contact their helpline 01206 362 540 (Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm) to see if they have a counsellor in your area. In addition, people can pay privately for counselling at PAC-UK’s offices in London or Leeds. Currently individual 60 minute counselling sessions cost £88.80 (including VAT) or 6 sessions can be purchased in advance at the reduced fee of £452.40 (including VAT). Telephone or Skype counselling can also be provided by PAC-UK at the same cost. Usually one face to face counselling session is arranged before continuing by telephone or Skype. Please contact the PAC-UK London or Leeds Advice Line if you are interested in these services.

I would like someone to make contact with my birth or adopted relative on my behalf but I do not live in a PAC-UK subscribing local authority. Where can I go for this service?

You can contact either the local authority post adoption service where you live or the local authority or adoption agency involved in arranging your adoption to ask whether they provide an intermediary service. Contact details for these agencies can be found on Adoption Search Reunion’s website. This website has a lot of useful information about intermediary services. Alternatively there are a number of independent adoption support agencies who provide intermediary services for a fee. These agencies are also listed on the Adoption Search Reunion website or you can search on the Ofsted website. PAC-UK can provide intermediary services for adopted adults who pay privately for this service. The current charge is £88.80 (including VAT) an hour or 6 hours can be purchased in advance at the reduced cost of £452.40 (including VAT). Please contact the PAC-UK Advice Line if you are interested in this service.

Adoptive Parents, Special Guardians, Other Permanent Carers, Prospective Adopters:

I would like to adopt – how do I find out more?

If you would like to find out more about adopting a child, please contact First4Adoption on 0300 222 0022. They also have a helpful website.

I am a prospective adopter and have been advised to have some counselling by my local authority. How can I access this at PAC-UK?

If you are adopting via a local authority which subscribes to PAC-UK’s services, you can have 4- 6 sessions of counselling with a PAC-UK counsellor.  These will either be in one of our outreach venues in your local authority, or at our main office in Kentish Town. You can set this up by ringing our Advice Line on 020 7284 5879 (London) or 0113 230 2100 (Leeds). If you don’t live in a subscribing local authority you could try Barnardos Link, which is a directory of adoption counsellors in other parts of the country. The number for Barnardos Link is 01206 362 540 and it is open Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm. Alternatively you could self-fund to see a counsellor from PAC-UK. Please call our Advice Line for details of our current charges.

I have a question about my adopted child’s education. Where can I go for advice?

PAC-UK’s Education Advice Line on 020 7284 5879 is a free weekly service for adoptive parents, special guardians, education and social care staff (see PAC-UK website for Education Advice Line times). The Education Advice Line provides consultation and advice regarding all aspects of the educational needs of permanently placed children. Adopters and special guardians in the six boroughs which comprise the Adoption North London consortium (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey and Islington) can also access face to face surgery sessions and a monthly parent group focused on educational issues at PAC-UK’s offices in Kentish Town, London. These can be booked by calling PAC-UK's London Advice Line during opening hours. We also facilitate a monthly parent group in Wandsworth. We provide training days for parents and guardians focused on supporting their children in school and training and consultation to schools. Full information about all our education services can be found on the Education Service page of the PAC-UK website. If your child has special educational needs or a disability you can seek support from your local Information Advice and Support service which you can find via the IASS (previously known as the National Parent Partnership) Network website. If your query is about the education, health and care assessment (statutory assessment) process, or if you are in disagreement with your local authority about your child’s special educational needs, you may find it useful to consult IPSEA, an organisation providing independent specialist education advice.

What is Pupil Premium Plus?

Pupil Premium began in 2011 for children eligible for free school meals, children whose parents serve in the armed forces and looked after children; its purpose was to close the attainment gap between these groups and their peers. Pupil Premium is currently £1,320 per eligible pupil for primary schools and £935 per pupil for secondary schools.

In 2013 the DfE introduced Pupil Premium Plus for looked after and previously looked after children. In doing this, the DfE acknowledged the enduring impact of trauma and loss in children's lives and the key role of schools in supporting children who have had a difficult start in life. Pupil premium plus is currently £1,900 per child per year.  

PAC-UK's Education Service has put together this useful guide, clearly setting out eligibility criteria, how funding can be accessed, what it can be used for and other vital information for adoptive parents and other permanent carers as well school staff and social workers.


I am a social worker working with an adoptive family. How do I go about making a referral for them to receive support from PAC-UK?

If :

a) you work for a local authority that has a service level agreement with PAC-UK or b) the family live in a local authority that have a service level agreement with PAC-UK  or c) the child's placing authority have a service level agreement with PAC-UK

You and and/or the family may be entitled to services under this agreement. The types services available to you are for example:

  • a professional consultation for a social worker to get advice and support with a case;
  • a parent consultation for parents/carers;
  • a family consultation for parents/carers with our specialist Child and Family Service;
  • a limited number of counselling sessions for adoptive parents/other permanent carers in one of our outreach services;
  • access to the Enhanced Adoptive Parenting Programme  (for some local authorities only);

More intensive assessment or therapeutic intervention work with families (or sometimes just with the parents/permanent carers – both pre- and post-placement) will usually require additional funding. Cases that require more intensive support can be discussed with one of our advice line counsellors or with the Head or Practice Manager of the Child and Family team. All services can be spot purchased if you or the family do not have access to PAC-UK services through a service level agreement. Question 3 in the 'general questions' section at the top of this page lists the local authorities who have service level agreements with us. Please feel welcome to call our advice lines to discuss these options.

I am a qualified/ trainee counsellor and would like to gain adoption experience at PAC-UK.  How do I go about this?

We currently run a placement counselling scheme at PAC-UK in London. Counsellors that meet the correct criteria can do a placement here to improve their knowledge of working with adoption issues and at the same time offer a low cost counselling service for service users through PAC-UK. Please check that you meet the criteria for application and if you do, please fill in this application form and email it to pavlina@pac-uk.org.

I am a professional working with an adopted person/birth parent/adoptive family. I would like some advice – can PAC-UK help me?

Yes we can. You do not have to live or work in a subscribing authority to call our advice line. Please call within our opening times at our London or Leeds office and we will advise you as best we can or signpost you to another agency that can offer you advice if we are unable to.

I am a counsellor/psychotherapist working with a client who has disclosed they have an adoption related issue. I am unsure how to proceed. What should I do?

In December 2010, the law changed so that only counsellors and psychotherapists registered as an adoption support agency (ASA) with Ofsted are able to offer specialist adoption services.

These amendments to the Adoption and Children's Act of 2002 were designed to ensure that the one in four UK individuals affected by adoption in some way, are provided with support and services from practitioners who hold the proper qualifications and experience.

­The introduction of this legislation now means that any counsellor working with a client for whom any aspect of adoption is the main focus, must be registered with Ofsted and subject to regular inspections. You can check an individual's registration on Ofsted's website.

Some counsellors may offer adoption counselling under contract with an adoption support agency, such as Barnardo's Link Counselling Service or PAC-UK. In these cases, the counsellor doesn't need to be registered directly with Ofsted themselves - but they can only carry out adoption counselling on behalf of their registered agency (i.e. they cannot provide this service independently).

It may be that some individuals are seeking counselling for issues they feel may be related to adoption (such as low-self esteem) but where adoption is not the key issue. In cases such as these, where the entire counselling experience is not likely to revolve solely around the adoption itself, a professional who is not an Approved Adoption Counsellor could provide a service.

I would like to learn more about parenting for adopters/how it feels to be adopted/reunions. What books and other resources can you recommend?

First4Adoption is the dedicated adoption information service for people interested in adopting a child in England. PAC-UK has a number of booklists covering many areas pertinent to adoption including adoptive parenting, being adopted, reunions and books for children. PAC-UK also has a range of training events and workshops taking place throughout the year. You can call PAC-UK's Advice Line on 020 7284 5879 (London) or 0113 230 2100 (Leeds). Alternatively you can email advice@pac-uk.org and ask to be put on the PAC-UK training mailing list.