In most adoptions, the prospective adoptive parent has the option to keep the adoption open. An open adoption allows communication after the adoption. Open adoptions are more common than people think. It is best if all parties have set expectations prior to the finalization of the adoption.
The most common type of open adoption includes a Post Adoption Contact Agreement or PACA. A PACA is an agreement regarding communication between the child, adoptive parent, and birth parent. If the Department of Child Safety is involved, they also must agree with the terms of the PACA. This agreement is only enforceable if it is in writing AND approved by the Court.
Post Adoption Contact Agreements are flexible to meet the needs of each case. A very limited PACA might only include that the adoptive parent must provide the birth parents information to the child upon the child turning 18. Others include regular or annual photographs or updates. A more comprehensive PACA can include actual visits with the child or children. The visits can include restrictions, such as in public, drug or alcohol testing, or supervision. Other items parties include are rules for social media and gifts/cards.
Failure to comply with the terms of a PACA is not grounds for setting aside an adoption or revoking consent. Instead, the party wishing to enforce needs to seek mediation then assistance through the Court.
Brittany Labadie is the Managing Partner at Lewis Labadie. She has been working with Lewis Labadie since it opened. Her current focus is with adoption cases, including juvenile adoptions, adult adoptions, foster care adoptions, same-sex adoption, surrogacy adoptions, and when necessary termination of parental rights. She works throughout the State of Arizona.