When birth parents choose adoption, they also decide what type of adoption they prefer. The majority of adoptions occuring today include some level of openness. Often birth parents want to know what defines an open adoption, how an open adoption works, and if it can be enforced.
An Open Adoption
In an open adoption, the birth parent and the adoptive family typically meet each other either before the birth of the child or at the hospital after the birth of the child. The birth parent and adoptive family also share personal, identifying information with each other. There are many different levels of openness and frequency of contact in this type of adoption, and it is important that both parties agree to the same level of openness and frequency of ongoing contact. One defining factor of open adoption is that the option of visits is present. It is highly recommended that an adoption attorney or agency assists in facilitating this type of agreement between the parties, and that each party understands their rights and what type of contact can and cannot be legally enforced.
The Cost of An Open Adoption
There is no cost to birth parents for placing a child for adoption, whether it is open or closed. Traditionally, the adoption attorney or agency who handles the case will monitor and dispense funds to the expectant mother according to state law. In many states, prospective adoptive parents are allowed to pay for the expectant mother’s following expenses:
- Medical bills
- Rent, utilities, and transportation costs
- Maternity clothing
The family or individual who wishes to adopt the unborn child pays for these costs as allowed by state law governing the adoption. However, it is strongly discouraged that prospective adoptive parents provide funds directly to the expectant mother for a variety of reasons. And no funds may be given to an expectant mother outside the costs associated with living or pregnancy expenses, as it is illegal to be paid to place a child for adoption.
An adoption plan is a guide or document that details how birth parents want to proceed in their adoption process. This plan is usually laid out with the help of an attorney or agency. The plan serves as a kind of template that is referred to for the rest of the adoption process.
The Details of an Adoption Plan
An adoption plan may include what characteristics the birth parents are looking for in prospective adoptive parents, such as race, religion, the presence of siblings, if they live in-state or out of state, etc. An adoption plan will also include the birth mother’s desires for the hospital experience, such as:
- Who she would like in the delivery room
- If she would like to hold the baby post-birth
- If she would like the baby in the room with her during her hospital stay
- If she would like to name the baby on the birth certificate
The type and frequency of post-adoption contact desired with the adoptive parents and child will also be included in an adoption plan. While the adoption plan is undeniably important, it is not a binding document. The birth parents may make changes to the plan at any time, including during the delivery of the baby itself.
Post-Adoption Contact Agreement
This part of the adoption plan details all aspects of post-adoption contact between the birth parents and adoptive family. Sometimes post-adoption contact agreements are just verbal and sometimes they are written agreements. In a written post-adoption contact agreement, the frequency of adoptive parents providing pictures and updates to the birth parents is outlined as well as how those pictures and updates will be provided. If visits have been agreed to by both parties, the frequency and details of visits will also be described.
It is important for birth parents to understand that they have no legal rights to the child once their parental rights have been terminated by a court. However, some states do allow enforcement of written post-adoption contact agreements; therefore, it is important for birth parents and adoptive parents to understand the legal aspects of a post-adoption contact agreement before signing one.
Need Additional Information About Open Adoption?
Open adoption can be incredibly rewarding for all parties involved in an adoption, including the child. Adoption attorneys can provide additional insight and legal guidance pertaining to your specific situation. For more information, contact Tammi Driver at 727-800-6681 or Tammi@TammiDriverLaw.com.