The promise of post-adoption contact can be an exciting prospect for all involved in the adoption triad. However, you may worry that the other set of parents in the adoption may not keep up their end of the agreement, which can cause disappointment and concern over the effect on the central figure of the adoption — the adopted child.
Some parents may wonder if there’s any way an open adoption contact agreement can be enforced legally. Unfortunately, Kansas and Missouri currently do not allow for enforceable post-adoption contact agreements. If either a birth parent or an adoptive parent breaks their post-adoption contact promise, there are no legal consequences that could be addressed in court.
However, you should not let this deter you from choosing an open adoption. In the majority of cases, both birth mothers and adoptive parents will keep the contact promise they made — as it’s just as important to them as it is to the other party. In fact, for many birth mothers, the possibility of an open adoption is why they made their adoption choice in the first place. They will want to see their child grow up and, more likely than not, will do everything they can to continue their contact.
Likewise, once they are fully educated about open adoption, adoptive parents will understand the importance of open communication for their adopted child throughout the years — and will do all they can to honor the choice the birth mother made and support her through her healing process.
If you’re worried about a birth or adoptive parent continuing to stay in contact with you, there are some things you can do:
- Choose a professional who will mediate post-adoption contact. When a parent begins to decrease the frequency of their contact, you may feel frustrated. Things can get complicated if you try to fix it by yourself, and you may end up doing more harm than good. If your contact is mediated by a professional, they will know the best way to speak to the other party about their lapse in communication and handle the situation going forward — without harming the relationship you already have.
- Establish a solid relationship with the birth or adoptive parents. Open adoption can be more than just an agreement to send and receive pictures and letters every couple of months; before placement, it gives you the chance to get to know your adopted child’s birth parents or adoptive parents in a way that will be highly beneficial for the future. If you have the chance to build a strong friendship with the birth or adoptive parents before placement, it’s highly recommended. The more you understand, respect and trust each other, the less likely it will be that the other parents will break their agreement to keep in touch as the years go by.
- Make your expectations known. While you cannot create a legally binding post-adoption contact agreement in Kansas or Missouri, you can certainly create a written agreement that outlines contact expectations throughout your adoption process. In fact, this kind of written document is encouraged in any open adoption. If you work with Michael Belfonte, he can help you with this written agreement, as well as provide you ongoing contact mediation services through his agency partner, American Adoptions.
Remember, just because an open adoption contact agreement is not legally binding in Kansas or Missouri doesn’t mean that you can’t have a successful open adoption relationship with your child’s birth or adoptive parents. More often than not, a prospective birth mother chooses adoption because she can watch her child grow up through open adoption — and has no intention of ever going back on her open adoption agreement. Similarly, adoptive parents understand how important open adoption communication can be and will likely do all they can to honor your contact agreement.
However, if a birth parent does break their post-adoption contact agreement, it’s important that adoptive parents continue to send the pictures, letters, emails, etc. that you agreed to. In many cases, if a birth parent decreases their contact frequency, it may be because they’re at a difficult point in their life — and fully intend to return to their previous contact frequency as soon as they can. It will mean a great deal to them that you continue to honor your agreement and give them updates on their adopted child during this time.
On the other hand, if adoptive parents miss a scheduled contact with you as a birth parent, it’s important that you do not jump to conclusions about their intentions. Like anyone else, unforeseen situations can come up that may delay their contact with you. If you’re concerned about them holding up their end of the agreement, we recommend you reach to your adoption professional, who can approach them professionally and non-confrontationally about honoring their contact agreement.
To find out more about how Michael Belfonte can help you with your open adoption contact agreements in Kansas City, give him a call at 816-842-3580.