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Social Work: Research


Ten Years After

‘Ten Years After’: the long term outcomes of Adoption Contact Register reunions


Whilst there have been a number of studies of outcomes of reunions, most of them have either been about the adopted person’s experience, or have looked at relatively ‘fresh’ reunions. Furthermore, there have been no studies that look at reunions that have taken place via adoption contact registers.

Adoption Contact Registers

There are many forms of Contact Registers throughout the world and success rates vary. Their most significant advantage is that adults’ wish to meet after separation by adoption is managed through the registration of a mutual interest and in some cases (notably the ACR for Scotland), a qualified worker is on hand to help with the process. Contact Registers ensure that there is no contact, meeting or reunion without the expression of interest by both parties. This is in contrast to the majority of reunions that take place. The rise of the Internet has made it easier to contact someone without the service of an intermediary and, crucially, without knowing whether the person to be contacted will welcome any approach.

Adoptions in Scotland and The Adoption Contact Register for Scotland (ACR)

Over 95,000 adoptions have taken place in Scotland, meaning at a minimum (two birth parents and one adopted adult and therefore not counting biologically-related siblings, aunts, uncles etc), nearly 300,000 birth parents and adopted adults could be registered. The ACR for Scotland holds the names and details of about 11,000 people. The ACR is thus under-used.


BirthlinkBirthlink is Scotland’s foremost after-adoption support agency and it has agreed to fund my research relating to the long term outcomes of reunions that have taken place via the ACR which it operates.

We have agreed that ‘long-term’ means ten years. We have also agreed that contact and meetings that take place via the ACR may:

Not take place at all even where there is a ‘link’ between people registered

May take place then quickly cease

May take place and continue

May take place, cease, then continue (then cease!)

Thus there may not be chronologically linear processes at work here.

It is also acknowledged that parties involved will have different ‘takes’ on the experience some of which may coincide. Furthermore it is understood that although ACR links are between two registrants, others (spouses, brothers, sisters etc) will be involved.

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