How do adoptive parents and birth families maintain open adoptions? Or even keep their word on promises to remain open?
It takes commitment, a little effort, and a post-adoption contact agreement, which is part of every adoption.
A post-adoption contact agreement is a formal contract that outlines expectations for ongoing contact between birth parents and an adoptive family.
You will collaborate with your child’s birth parents (usually with the help of your case worker or attorney) to decide the type and frequency of contact you will have after the adoption is finalized and up until your child turns 18. Once your child is legally an adult, it will be up to them to decide how much contact they’d like with their birth family.
Generally, it’s written by a licensed adoption agency and can be such a great way to help manage expectations, set boundaries, and create a thoughtful plan of action to help you stick to your promises. While this agreement isn’t the end-all-be-all, it’s a great starting point for your relationship.
Approximately 29 states and the District of Columbia currently have statutes that allow written and enforceable agreements for contact after the finalization of an adoption, which means your open adoption agreement could very well be legally binding.
That said, you should be mindful of certain realities…
- If you live in states that aren’t within driving distance of one another, is agreeing to yearly visits going to be practical?
- In some situations, you may want to consider starting off with contact that will be mediated by your adoption agency. This can always change in the future, in fact, many states leave room for renegotiation over the years.
Contact can look different for each family and there are many varying degrees. It can range from exchanging information about your child (e.g., cards, letters, and photos via an agency or social media) to having visits with the birth parents or relatives.
When putting together your post-adoption agreement…and certainly before you sign anything, remember to be realistic, honest, ready to follow through on your promises, and do what’s best for your child.