Why Open Adoption Agreements?

Imagine that, in their excitement before the birth of the baby, adoptive parents tell the birthmother “Get in touch anytime.” They are thinking about receiving a few emails while she interprets “anytime” to mean monthly visits. These very different ideas about open adoption can cause anger and disappointment on both sides.

It is scenarios like this that point to the need for written agreements, which provide concrete expectations and boundaries. Contact agreements are legally binding in many states. But, even in states where these agreements are not technically binding, some courts enforce them anyway. As a result, families need to think carefully about what they agree to and be sure that it is something they can live with for the next 18+ years. An adoption cannot be overturned because of either party’s failure to comply. However, if mediation becomes necessary, families have the right to say whether compliance with any of the conditions in the agreement is in the best interest of their child.

The written agreement should specify the type and frequency of contact in the baby’s first year and in later years. Usually the birthmother wants more frequent contact during the first year when she is grieving. It’s a good idea to specify the minimum amount of contact the parties will have over the years. For example, if the agreement includes face-to-face contact, discuss the number of visits, along with the duration and location of each visit. It’s a good idea to also include how special occasions will be handled. Does the birthmother want to visit at the child’s birthday or Christmas and bring gifts? Is the adoptive family OK with that?

If the adoptive parents and birthparents develop a good relationship prior to the adoption and trust each other, they can work out minor issues over the years without the necessity of a court getting involved. Good communication will be more important in the long run than any written agreements.

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  • Mikki4

    My adoption was an open adoption , I have suffered much anger and pain from the adoptive mother. She promised me verbaly back in 1986-1987 to send me letters and photos of my son, and at 9mn of age she stopped saying she didn’t feel like she could be a mother to the baby when she had to keep in contact with me. So she stopped. How heart breaking that is for me today and for the past 24 yrs. I was unselfish enough to give her something she could not do on her own, and she responded this way. How dare her. My advice to anyone going through an open adoption is to yes make sure you get any agreements in wrighting as I did not.

  • Cherit50

    I read your post and truly understand. My daughter placed a beautiful, little boy in the arms of a wonderful couple. (They were present at his birth,as was I) The open adoption was not in writing, just a verbal agreement of pictures and much contact through every year.  That was 7 years ago, the last two years none of us, including my daughter (birthmother) even received a Christmas card. We’ve never missed his birthday or Christmas, but never hear a thank you from them until they are called to see if the packages arrived.  It hurts me, but my poor daughters heart breaks often.  She does get a text msg. from the adopted mom on rare occasions, but that’s about it. My last picture of him was years ago.  What’s wrong people?  I don’t get it? These seemed like wonderful, loving, Christian people…and I think they are all those things, yet how can they forget the woman who gave them their son?  Sorry for the rant…just needed to vent this afternoon. Wish there was a forum where the birth family could all get together and vent…do you know of any?  I pray God will give you much comfort until the day you can finally hold your son in your arms…my daughter lives for that day.

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