Whether you are a birthparent who has selected a family, or adoptive parents navigating a match, the topic of post placement contracts will eventually arise if you are pursuing an open adoption. Also known as post-adoption agreements, or kinship agreements, a post placement contract is a voluntary contact agreement developed together by birthparents and adoptive parents. The contract is a detailed and concise guide that provides both structure and boundaries for the future interactions between the birthparent, adoptive parent and child. The contract begins when the adoption is finalized, and lasts until the child reaches the age of 18.
The contract typically describes the frequency and regularity of interaction between the two families, including emails, phone calls, letters, photo exchanges, updates, or in person visits. There is no standard contract; every agreement will look different based on each family’s circumstance. Additionally, there is no maximum or minimum requirement for the level or type of interaction, and the point of the agreement is to develop an arrangement that everyone is comfortable with.
An adoption agency employee or social worker should work with both sets of parents to discuss what they envision for the future, and to confirm they understand and are satisfied with the final conditions. Post placement contracts are legally binding, and many states consider them enforceable by law. While non-compliance will not overturn an adoption or jeopardize custody, both sets of parents should consider the agreement as a long term commitment, and acknowledge how it will shape the future of everyone involved.
What a Post Placement Contract Means for Birthparents:
For birthparents, it is important to consider the emotional impact of an open adoption. For many, the grief and healing process will dictate the level of involvement a birthparent chooses to pursue. The post placement contract is an opportunity for a birthparent to reflect on the role they hope to play in the child’s life, and to describe the collaboration needed to feel at peace with their decision.
Some birthparents opt for a high level of interaction, to become an extended member of the adoptive parent’s family and to cultivate a relationship with the child as he or she grows up. Others birthparents hope to preserve some distance, and instead might prefer exchanging emails and receiving periodic photos and updates. The post placement contract is the outlet for a birthparent to express these wishes and commit to a long term relationship with the adoptive parents and child.
What a Post Placement Contract Means for Adoptive Parents:
For adoptive parents, it is important to consider the long term implications of a post placement contract. In the excitement of a placement and the anticipation of bringing home a new child it might be easy to gloss over details. However, this is a time to consider how your family’s habits will be shaped through interactions with the birthparents, and how you will integrate the relationship into your lifestyle.
In many states the post placement contract may be legally binding. Consequently, it may be challenging to make adjustments to the contract in the future if the adoptive parents find they are no longer comfortable with the terms of the agreement. Therefore, adoptive parents should be confident in their commitment to the contract, and understand the long term relationship they are embarking on with the birthparents.
Adoption experts agree that children undoubtedly benefit from open adoptions, and the foundation of a healthy open adoption is a thoughtful post placement contract. This is particularly true when the contract is mutually created by those who share the best interest of the child as their number one priority. When working to develop a post placement contract, both sets of parents should remember that an agreement based on openness and honesty facilitates the best outcomes for everyone involved.