As an expectant mother considering adoption or a hopeful adoptive parent, you may have read or heard about post-adoption contact agreements. However, you may not know much about them. Today, we’ll discuss adoption agreements in detail and learn why they are beneficial for those involved in open adoptions.
What is a post-adoption contact agreement?
A post-adoption contact agreement is a contract between expectant parents and adoptive parents, outlining future contact after an adoption is finalized. Adoption contact agreements can outline a variety of things including: the number of visits per year, where visits will occur, who will come to the visits, how often birth parents want pictures and updates, as well as details like how the child will refer to the birthparents as he/she gets older. Basically, anything involving ongoing post-adoption contact can and should be outlined in an open adoption contract.
Are post/open adoption contracts and agreements legally enforceable?
Adoption contact agreements are not legally enforceable in all states. And even in the states where they are, they are difficult to enforce. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write one. It is a great way to know what is expected of you, should you move forward with an open adoption plan. If you have a difficult time coming to an agreement regarding post-adoption contact, this may be a red flag. And it may not be the right adoption situation for you and all involved.
How do I write a post-adoption contract?
First, give some thought to how open you want your adoption to be: What type of contact do you want? And how often do you want it? You may even wish to put these thoughts down in writing so you are prepared when it is time to discuss them. Next, talk with your adoption agency, attorney, or adoption professional. They will be able to help set up a time where both potential birth parents and adoptive parents can meet to discuss their desires for the post adoption contract. They will also be able to write up the actual agreement for you.
What are some of the benefits of an adoption agreement?
Post-adoption contracts are beneficial to all involved because they are a reminder and a connection of what was initially agreed upon and expected. That said, I would suggest leaving some room for flexibility as you prepare your agreement because you never know how you are going to feel months or even years down the line. I also suggest putting a lot of thought and prayer into what you feel your limitations are. Do not promise things that you can’t guarantee you’ll follow through with.
Also, life gets busy. So have a plan in mind of how you can make this open adoption agreement work from the get-go. If you agree to send pictures monthly, for example, set a reminder on your phone to jog your memory. When your child brings home a masterpiece of art from school, snap a photo of it to send his/her birthmom. Have a notebook handy and jot down cute things your child says or does to include in update letters. Having a plan in place will help your agreement seem less daunting as time goes on and life becomes hectic.
What are the cons of such an agreement?
An open adoption contract is not legally enforceable in all states and therefore may just seem like a piece of paper in some cases. But it really isn’t. It your word. And this brings to mind an important point. I recently asked a birthmom friend this very question and her response was, “When the post-adoption agreement is not followed through, it’s a bitter reminder of what could and should have been.” Even if it isn’t legally enforceable, it is an important reminder to absolutely follow through on the promises you have made.