In June 2022 we launched our ‘PAC-UK Consultation – Services for Adopted People’ survey. We wanted to hear directly from adopted people about the services and support they feel is needed. We also want our adopted service users to have more of a voice within PAC-UK (and the wider adoption sector) and so asked about involvement in that too, including views on the events PAC-UK should deliver during National Adoption Week – our PAC-UK National Adoption Week 2022 Events programme can be viewed here.  

We were extremely pleased and thankful that a fantastic 392 adopted people completed the survey. Within the survey we also asked about adopted people’s priorities around maintaining relationships with birth family after adoption and 231 responded with comments around this.

Realising the importance of these responses in an under-researched area, we worked with Professor Beth Neil and Cassian Rawcliffe from the University of East Anglia (UEA) on a research briefing which reflects these views. Key findings and recommendations are listed below.


  1. Wide-spread support for the prioritisation of birth-family relationships
  2. Adopted people feel their needs around contact are not always prioritised
  3. Adopted adults need more support
  4. More open discussion about birth family links is needed


This study reveals the continuing needs and difficulties faced by adopted adults with regard to birth family contact. The findings suggest a more robust approach to contact planning is needed. This should be informed by a realistic understanding of birth family contact that considers how needs change across the life span. Such an approach requires the following elements:

  1. Robust contact planning
  2. Practical and emotional support
  3. Changing the narrative of adoption

“We are at an exciting time of potential change in adoption where questions are being asked about whether the severing of ties with birth family and the consequent secrecy around identity is beneficial to adopted children. The message we are getting for many adopted adults is that it is not.”

Mike Hancock, PAC-UK National Strategic Lead

Download: “Maintaining relationships with birth families after adoption: What are Adopted Adults’ Views?”

UEA and PAC-UK | October 2022


Rawcliffe, C., Neil, E., Hancock, M. and Elias L. (2022) Maintaining relationships with birth families after adoption: What are Adopted Adults’ Views? Centre for Research on Children and Families Research Briefing; Norwich: University of East Anglia.


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