I research Consensus of research continues to point favorably towards open adoption Positive Values of Open Adoption

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From PLI’s Course Handbook

Adoption Law Institute 2007

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open adoption

Nina E. Rumbold

Rumbold & Seidelman

open adoption
I) Research

Consensus of research continues to point favorably towards open adoption

Positive Values of Open Adoption:

  1. For the Child:

    1. Open adoption provides children adopted as infants information about their birth family.

    2. Open adoption may allow older children adopted from foster care to continue relationships with birth families. This can minimize a child’s sense of loss, ease feelings of abandonment, and have a positive impact on a child’s sense of self-worth. An open adoption can actually help a child to bond with an adoptive family.

    3. Psychological benefits: issues of identity unique to adoptees:

        1. prolongation of “family romance fantasy” and

        2. “genealogical bewilderment”

d. Physical health: Ready access to medical information (some of which may develop post adoption)

  1. For Birth Parents: Allows birth parents to diminish their sense of loss, particularly when they become an ongoing resource for a child’s medical, social, religious, and cultural history.

  1. For Adoptive parents: Parents and children have a greater sense of permanence and peace in their relationship when the adoption is open. The adoptive parents’ acceptance of birth parents reinforces a sense of worth in the child.


Trend in New York and other states not only towards enforcement of open adoption through Post Adoption Contact Agreement but also expanding from foster care into other areas:

1) Currently 17 states have some form of enforcement of Post Adoption Contact Agreement:

a. Some limited to children in the dependency or the foster care system

b. Some limited by age and/or previous relationship to birth family

  1. In New York, typical evolution of enforcement of Post Adoption Contact Agreements that had its inception in the desire to move children out of the foster care system into permanent families.

    1. Enforcement of post adoption contact seen as a way to make voluntary surrender of adoptive child more palatable to birth families.

    2. Appearance that private agency adoptions were included in the post adoption contact enforcement as an oversight

    3. However, now the beneficial aspects of post adoption contact are being recognized in involuntary termination of parental rights without the benefit of statutory codification, See, In re Valentino G., 827 N.Y.S.2d 54, 55, 36 A.D.3d 439, 440, 2007 N.Y. Slip Op. 00079, 00079 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept. Jan 09, 2007) (NO. 10041)

    4. And also in private placement adoption.(although there was limited authority from case law for the argument that post adoption contact agreements could be enforced prior to the new law; there is anecdotal evidence of courts’ willingness to sign an order that purports to incorporate a Post Adoption Contact Agreement into an Order of Adoption in a private placement adoption even with out statutory authority to do so.

    5. See excellent discussion of reasons why enforcement of Post Adoption Contact Agreements should be extended to allow for enforcement of Post Adoption Contact Agreements in more contexts, Continuing the Evolution: Why California should Amend Family Code Section 8616.5 to Allow Visitation in All PostAdoption Contact Agreements, 44 San Diego Law Review 355, May/June 2007.



  1. When and How to get approval of the Post Adoption Contact Agreement

    1. Approval Court and Finalizing Court are not the same

    2. Court requires disclosure of Identifying information even though parties request confidentiality

    3. Finalizing Court disagrees with Approval Court’s assessment that Post Adoption Contact Agreement is in the Child’s best interest

  1. Best Practices and Sample Agreements

    1. Mediation: Before and After

    2. Voice of the Child and when should child be a party to the agreement

    3. Flexibility, Specificity and Enforceability

    4. Particular issues of safety and supervision

    5. Ability of the agreement to be self-modifying

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