An open adoption takes place when the birth mother and adopting parents know each other’s first and last names. The adopting parents have the right to determine if the child may have contact with the birth mother and father, and if contact is to be for a short time or continue for years.
The birth mother and father and adoptive parents may enter into an agreement that specifies when, where, how, and how often contact may occur, and it may include other mutually agreeable conditions.
However, the agreement, even if formalized as a contract, is not legally binding in two-thirds of the 50 states. Eight states do not enforce adoption agreements and about 22 states allow open adoption contracts to be enforced.
If you are considering an open adoption agreement or contract, know that legal issues may arise over the course of time.
Yes you should, and you should consult an adoption lawyer before making and entering any agreement or contract. An attorney experienced in adoption law knows the type of conflicts that may arise months or years after the adoption and can guard against them.
Your lawyer can write the agreement or contract so it is fair to both the birth mother and adoptive parents and ensure it is in the best interest of the child. A contract that is not fair is not legal, and courts consider the interests of the child as paramount.
As birth and adoptive parents may live in different states, your attorney will know the adoption and contract laws of those states and form your agreement or contract accordingly.
Your lawyer also can advise you if a semi-open adoption would be in the best interests of those involved. A semi-open adoption allows the birth mother and father limited contact with the child and, of course, confidentiality.
The birth parents can stay in limited contract through letters and pictures sent by the adopting parents. The correspondence is handled by a third party, such as the adoption agency.
The adoptive child’s siblings are also eligible to have contact and visits in certain states. Your open adoption attorney can advise you when, and if, such a situation becomes relevant.
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