Archive group photo of Barnardo's children

Former Barnardo's children

Making Connections

The Making Connections service has re-opened in a limited capacity. The service had been closed since March 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Find out about your past

Taking steps to find out about your past and your family history can be a daunting and emotional process.

Our Making Connections team is here to support you on your journey, and help you find the information you’re looking for. Our vast archives hold records of all children in Barnardo’s care, or adopted through Barnardo's, since the 1870s. We also have a large collection of photographs and films, from 1874 onwards, as well as information about all the children's homes Barnardo's ran. 

The information we provide

If you were in Barnardo's care as a child, or are descended from someone in Barnardo's care, you can access our records.

A child's record may include:

  • the circumstances leading to their admission or adoption
  • details of any known family members
  • birth and baptism certificates
  • school reports
  • photos of the child and the places they lived

We provide personal information in accordance with the law on third-party information. Due to the demand for our services, your enquiry may be placed on a waiting list.

Access your own records 

Children at a Barnardo's orphanage

If you were looked after by or adopted through Barnardo's, fill in the Making Connections Enquiry Form at the bottom of this page. 

This service is free.

If your adoption was handled by Barnardo’s we can support and counsel you through the process.

Access to Records (Care or Adoption)

If you wish to access your own care or adoption records, please complete the application form by following the process listed below. If you have enquired with Making Connections about accessing your own care or adoption records during the period of closure (March 2020 – August 2021), please be aware that we are working through the backlog of enquiries and a member of the team will be in touch in due course.

Family History Service (UK, Canada and Australia)

Unfortunately at the start of the Covid pandemic we had to take the difficult decision to temporarily suspend our work on enquiries from the descendants of former Barnardo’s children – via our Family History Service. This was to enable us to focus on our statutory work with people who were themselves in care or adopted through Barnardo’s.

We are currently in the process of planning a phased resumption of our Family History Service. Initially we plan to make direct contact with all enquirers who were already on the waiting list at the time of our closure in March 2020.

We will then make direct contact with all the enquirers who wrote to us during the period of closure and are waiting for a full response. Contact will be made in the order in which each enquiry was received. The final phase of reopening the service in full will be to reactivate our online service, and to accept new applications from direct descendants.’

Enquiring as a relative of an adopted person

If you are a member of the adoptee birth family, we can support you and act as intermediaries. To make an application, complete the Making Connections Enquiry Form at the bottom of this page. 

If you are a descendent of an adopted person, we may be able to offer you a service. To find out more and complete an application, see the Descendent of an Adopted Person Form at the bottom of the page.

Obtaining information about your deceased relative

If you're trying to find out about a deceased relative that was looked after by Barnardo's in the UK, fill in the Family History Service UK Form. Alternatively, if you would like to enquire by post, you can access the Family History Service UK Enquiry Form at the bottom of this page.

Child migration

We continue to support Barnardo's child migrants and their families through our records and tracing service. We fully agree with the findings of the three historical enquiries into child migration and the apology by the UK prime minister.

If you're trying to find out about a deceased relative who emigrated to Canada or Australia, fill in the Family History Service Overseas Form​​​​​​.  Alternatively, if you would like to enquire by post, you can access the Family History Service Overseas Form at the bottom of this page

Barnardo’s also holds the records of other former child care organisations who emigrated children. To obtain records of children emigrated via Marchmont, the Annie Macpherson Home or the Liverpool Sheltering Home, you can access the Family History Service Overseas Form at the bottom of this page.

1940s children by Dr Barnardo's van


Before we can carry out our search, we need signed consent from the nearest surviving descendant of the relative you're trying to trace. They will need to fill in Part A of the appropriate form (either the UK form or the overseas form).


We charge a £25 administrative fee for all enquiries about deceased relatives in the UK, Australia and Canada.

If we find your relative, there is an additional charge for all packages of information. You can download more information about these packages, including prices, at the bottom of this page.

Contact us

You can return your completed forms and get in touch with us at the following address:  

Making Connections
140 Balaam Street
London E13 8RD 

You can also get in touch by email at [email protected] or by telephone on 0208 552 1004. 

Get involved in our work: The National Council of Barnardo's Care Leavers and The Guild Messenger Magazine

If you are a Barnardo’s care leaver and you would like to get more involved in our work, consider joining our National Council of Barnardo's Care Leavers.

The Council was originally set up in 1990 to provide opportunities for care leavers to support Barnardo's wider work in their local area and nationally. The members bring their skills and experiences to meetings and events, and they often share their life stories to support fundraising initiatives and build awareness around Barnardo's work. Past National Council members have appeared in books, articles and attended anniversaries e.g., Barnardo's Wimbledon Ball Boys, the 150th Anniversary Buckingham Palace Garden Party, and have also contributed to several projects.

Making Connections is recruiting for more Barnardo’s care leavers to join the National Council. If you would like more information about the National Council or to become a member, please get in touch with the Making Connections team.

The service also produces a biannual magazine called 'The Guild Messenger', for the care experienced people and adoptees we have supported. It includes articles about our history, stories from the people we have supported and updates on the charity's current work. To subscribe or submit a story to the magazine, please contact Making Connections at [email protected].