As you consider adoption or placing your child for adoption, it is important to consider the nature and scope of your post adoption contact and relationship. As compared to the past, today, most adoptions involve birth parents and adoptive couples working together directly and communicating (through their adoption professionals, as needed) about what their contact will be after placement.

Open adoptions are typically those where the adoptive couple and birth parents know each other’s identity and have some level of direct contact and communication. This may involve direct contact through telephone, texting, email, video conference, social media, and/or in-person visits. Often, birth parents and adoptive couples do not know what level of openness, or type of contact they want at the time of matching and beginning of the adoption process. For this reason, it is highly recommended that all parties involved in an adoption communicate early and often, including with trained adoption social workers, agency, and/or attorney.

Some adoption circumstances do not result in an open adoption, or individuals do not want contact or an ongoing relationship. Those involved should be prepared to respect the other parties to an adoption and work with all involved so an adoption can proceed with the focus being on the best interests of the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents as much as possible. Again, this may require the intervention and assistance of adoption professionals to negotiate compromises that hopefully result in an adoption that works for all involved.

It is very important for birth parents and adoptive couples to communicated clearly and honestly, and that any agreements reached be clear and when necessary documented in a Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) – a written documentation of the agreed upon arrangement. In Utah, except for adoptions involving foster children, PACAs are currently not enforceable in Court. It is important that all parties that sign a PACA understand the terms of the agreement and laws that apply to its enforceability.

Parties to an adoption should also recognize that relationships may evolve and change over time, as the child gets older and everyone’s lives change. Regardless of any agreement the parties may have made, it is important for everyone involved to understand that the needs of the child and the child’s best interests should always be the first consideration. Following finalization of an adoption, the adoptive parents are the child’s legal parents and have all of the rights and responsibilities to protect and provide for the needs of the child. This, however, should not be a reason for adoptive parents to disregard the emotional impact and needs of the birth parents, and hopefully careful consideration and respect for the birth parents will always be included when managing an open adoption.

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Derek Williams, Partner

Derek Williams, Partner
About Derek

Let’s talk about your situation and create a plan that fits your individual circumstances and the option that best fits your family.