What to Do When Adoptive Family Doesn’t Honor Open Adoption Agreement
You may be new to the idea of an open adoption, as it is a relatively new practice and not always discussed by adoption agencies as an option. An open adoption refers to a birthmother-to-adoptive parent relationship where the birthmother has contact and receives information about the child after the placement. This means many things for different people and parents, which is why you should have a conversation with your adoptive parents first.
Once you have settled on the terms of your open adoption agreement, you may wonder how to enforce it on the adoptive parents’ end. Are they agreeing just to please you until they have custody? How can you trust someone to live up to their word if they are not required to uphold only a verbal agreement? While you want to put faith in your adoptive parents (especially since you chose them to be in an open adoption), we all make mistakes and sometimes an adoptive parent will cut communication, disregarding your open adoption agreement.
While you cannot force an open adoption agreement on the parents after they receive custody, you can create a formal agreement prior to the birth that defines the terms of your open adoption, and ask the adoptive parents to consent and sign it. Some states allow for legal documents regarding open adoptions to be enforced if broken, while other states do not enforce these under adoption laws.
Some states will not honor your contract in a court of law, so it’s best to come to reasonable terms with the adoptive parents prior to the birth. Engage in an open dialogue to see what they are comfortable with, and your most important wishes. Maybe the parents aren’t comfortable with direct contact, but they are more than happy to send you pictures, videos, and letters to and from the family. Social media has also made it easier to see your child grow up, without direct communication if the adoptive family is uncertain.
Remember, your adoptive parents are trying to build a family. This will be painful for you, but contacting the parents may make them feel that the child in their hearts is not fully theirs to raise. With open communication and a strong foundation of trust, you won’t have to worry about your adoptive parents losing contact. And if you have any problems, talk to them first to see where the discrepancy lies. It may be something you can resolve without a dispute and hurt feelings.
Talk to your adoption agency about the different options for open adoption. Birthmother’s Choice encourages mothers to consider open adoptions with their adoptive parents. You can create a lasting bond with your child and their family when the line of communication remains open. Contact us to learn more.