Are open-adoption agreements legally enforceable?

Are open-adoption agreements legally enforceable by either party?

Best Answers

  • Answer ✓
         The most basic answer to this is... kinda. Some states (not all) have 'legal' open adoption agreements. However, it isn't like shared custody at all. Both sets of parents might sign a legal document, but there is typically no legal backlash if one or the other of the parties don't follow through. There is usually not a stipulation in an adoption agreement that specifies what will happen if the contact falls through, so if it does, there typically aren't any harsh consequences for anyone involved.
         The most I have ever personally seen is when a birth mother I knew went to the court because she was not given the visitation she was promised and the judge ordered that it happen. She did get one more visit after that, but the adoptive family still didn't continue the contact as regularly as they had agreed to and nothing really happened to them. 
         Most states do not have legally binding open adoption agreements. Even for the ones that do, and open adoption agreement is really based on trust rather than law. Here is an excellent article that goes into further detail about open adoption agreements.

    https://adoption.com/the-reality-of-open-adoption-agreements
  • Answer ✓
    As Annaleece noted, open adoption agreements typically are not legally enforceable. It is important to note that even when a state states that open adoption agreements ARE legally enforceable, this is really not the case.

    Open adoption is a newer concept, and unfortunately, many states are not sure how to handle it. Even in a legal state, all of the laws dictate that adoptive parents have ultimate discretion. An adoptive parent can decide at any time that they do not want to participate in an open adoption any longer. These agreements are really skewed in protection of adoptive parents in an attempt to be protective of the adoptee. 

    While there may be some recourse in states that say open adoption is legally enforceable, there is often not a lot of recourse for birth parents. Adoption.org notes, "If the adoptive family refuses to make contact even after a judge has ordered it, there are potential charges and fines. Even so, most of the time adoptive parents are not punished for breaking the contract." 
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