Monday, July 30, 2012

Should Open Adoption Agreements Be Enforceable?

I strongly believe the answer is YES, but the Salt Lake Tribune presents the "debate:"
After learning she was pregnant, Jessa Speight went from hoping her relationship with the father would work out to knowing it would not and — after deciding on adoption — from expecting it to be "closed" to wanting some exchange of information with the adoptive couple who would become her daughter’s parents.
But the relationship that evolved has surprised them all, moving from weekly blog updates to in-person visits — the couple even attended Speight’s wedding — and regular text, Facebook and Skype exchanges.
"I never expected it to be like that," Speight said. "I expected it to be as awkward as it was the first few months of her life. I say now that seeing my birth daughter is like seeing [a] cousin. We hang out, have fun and I don’t cry because I know I’m going to see them again."
There is no formal agreement governing the open relationship between Speight and her daughter’s parents, and while their experience shows how such relationships can blossom, Speight knows that is unusual.
And that’s why she is decidedly in favor of written, enforceable agreements that can be re-evaluated over time — which Utah’s adoption law does not address and is the subject of a below-the-surface debate among adoption groups.
"It is a huge problem because some couples promise the moon and back and then they close off the relationship," said Speight, who runs the website Birthmothers4adoption. "The enforceability in the written contract forces couples to be honest about how they feel about openness. A lot of couples these days are so desperate for a child they are willing to lie and say they want an open adoption but as soon as they get the child they close it off. It’s not the majority of couples, but it does happen."


Kris said...

Yes. I think it should be as legally binding as it is in divorce cases where the parent without primary custody still has rights. I don't understand why it can't be put in a legally enforceable contract.

-J.D. Humenay said...

Count me in. My parents had a closed adoption in the 1980s when they adopted me, and they were given the "option" to send baby pictures to my bio mom. They opted NOT to because they wanted to ensure I was their daughter and there wouldn't be any 2nd thoughts by the bio mom later down the road. (And trust me, being raised by people ready to have me was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me.)

They stood behind their closed agreement.

I think these agreements, open or closed, should be specific and legally binding UNLESS at some point the patents w/ custody wish to have it re-arranged. I'd have to believe those would be pretty rare cases. I have a set of friends who gave up a child in an open adoption to new, more prepared parents. They have stuck to their agreement and it's worked out really well for all parties involved.

I think it's important to note the difference between a "restraining order" and an open adoption. I like the "divorce" analogy because it doesn't mean the people who are "divorced" can't have coffee together or forge some other live or reletionship outside of the marriage together. That's what I'd picture an open adoption to be like - Each open adoption is probably a very unique relationship.