Family Action’s PAC-UK reveals new insights and experiences of adoptees and birth parents with the launch of The Big Consult.

Adoption Support Agency, Family Action PAC-UK, reveals the findings of The Big Consult, the largest piece of research into birth parents and adopted people’s experiences and feelings around the adoption process, in over 20 years.

Adopted people and birth parents launching The Big Consult with PAC-UK and the National Adoption Strategy Team in Leeds in April 2023

The Big Consult was funded by the National Adoption Strategy Team and is a major consultation of birth parents whose children have been adopted, and of people adopted from the 1950s to the present day.

PAC-UK, part of national charity Family Action, is the country’s largest independent Adoption Support Agency, and launched The Big Consult to gain an understanding of birth parents and adopted people’s feelings and experiences around the adoption process, the services they received before and after, their thoughts on how these can be improved, and their suggestions for the future of adoption.

Key findings from the report reveal that:

  • Over 70% of adopted people state there is not enough information about why they were adopted and about their birth parents
  • 85% of adopted people had attempted contact with birth parents after reaching 18 and 92% were glad that they attempted contact
  • 76% of adopted people said that direct contact with birth parents should be standard practice
  • 90% of adopted people feel that adoption should be more open
  • 77% of adopted people accessed mental health support as an adult
  • 50% of birth parents cite mental health issues as a main factor in a child’s removal and 84% of birth parents have mental health issues currently
  • Only 12% of birth parents received letterbox letters, from children, for 6 years or more
  • 62% of birth parents had contact with children when they were over 18, as adults

Gilli Bruce from Warrington was adopted in 1962. Gilli said:

“Growing up adopted was very difficult. I had no information about my birth family and tiny snippets leaked out over the years that should have been mine to know all along. My education really suffered as when I was a teenager, I was so concerned with finding people to belong to as I did not feel that I really belonged to anyone."

The charity’s vision is that all those affected by adoption and other forms of permanent care are supported and enabled to live their lives to the full.

Mike Hancock, National Strategic Lead at PAC-UK, said:

“The Big Consult is one of the biggest consultations ever undertaken with adopted people and birth parents. They show a desire for much greater openness and honesty in adoption and there is a thirst for improved services from all participants, in order to address the trauma caused when children do not stay with their families.”

Kristy, a birth parent from Lancashire said:

“The Big Consult speaks volumes, and it shows that there is a lack of understanding of a birth parent once a child is removed. I am a birth mum with 18 years life experience, and I am a survivor of domestic violence.”

Angela Frazer-Wicks, a birth parent from Norfolk adds:

"Punishing victims of domestic abuse for failing to protect, and labelling parents with mental health problems as a risk to their children without doing anything to help and support these parents is a travesty. We must do better to stop parents and children being needlessly torn apart.”

Sarah Johal MBE, National Adoption Strategic Lead, said:

“Regional Adoption Agency Leaders really welcome the publication of The Big Consult, hearing directly from adopted people and birth parents to help shape the direction of practice and service development. The messages are clear about the need for additional support to help adopted children and adults understand their identity through life story work, therapeutic provision and ongoing relationships with birth family post adoption. This will require additional support for birth families who do play a continuing role in children’s lives, and we must have an increased national focus in policy and investment to provide support for them.”

Full reports: PAC-UK Big Consult of Adopted People  | PAC-UK Big Consult of Birth Parents

To find out more about Family Action PAC-UK please visit or email

Contact details: 
Phone: 07903 074 174 

Notes to Editors

The Big Consult

The Big Consult was devised and written by Mike Hancock, National Strategic Lead at Family Action/PAC-UK with Leon Elias, National Operational Lead at Family Action/PAC-UK. Jin Hwang, Data and Business Support Administrator at Family Action/PAC-UK provided data and technical support.

PAC-UK Big Consult of Adopted People
PAC-UK Big Consult of Birth Parents

About PAC-UK

Family Action’s PAC-UK is an Adoption Support Agency that provides specialist support to all parties affected by adoption and permanency. Our vision is that all those affected by adoption, Special Guardianship and other forms of permanent care are supported and enabled to live their lives to the full. We have built our expertise over a 37 year period, starting out as Post-Adoption Centre in 1986. In recent years we have combined with other specialist providers to produce a more robust organisation with a wider reach and a more comprehensive range of services. In 2018, PAC-UK joined national charity, Family Action. PAC-UK was rated as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas during our most recent Ofsted inspection in December 2022. Ofsted report

Ofsted registration number: SC066981 

About Family Action

Family Action is a national charity committed to building stronger families and brighter lives. ​Since the charity was founded in 1869, we have continued to help children and families overcome the challenges they face through a wide range of practical, emotional and financial support. Today we work with more than 60,000 families in over 170 community-based services, as well as supporting thousands more through our national helpline, FamilyLine, which offers free and immediate support to adult family members and national schemes like the National School Breakfast Programme. 

We help families and individuals to manage their mental health and wellbeing, working with families to reduce the impact of social isolation, poverty, addiction and other significant sources of stress and pressure. We also support families affected by adoption, special guardianship, separation, special educational needs, disability, domestic violence and sexual abuse. In addition, we provide thousands of welfare and educational grants every year to people in financial crisis.  

For further information, please visit our website at 

Registered charity number: 264 713