FMF has just learned of a new pitfall. Mom has an agreement with her child's adoptive parents allowing her periodic visits, ("designated parenting time" in social work speak). The adoptive parents decide they don't want the kid and plan to pass him on to another adoptive family. Does the mom still get to see her kid?
In the law of property, if I sell you my front 40 acres, and you give me an easement so I can get to my back 40, the easement is valid even if you sell the property. But children are not property--although they are treated as such when it comes to birth certificates, pieces of paper which have become certificates of title reflecting to whom the child belongs to--rather than the child's genetic parentage, or an real and accurate certificate of birth.
The question of whether an open-adoption agreement follows the child was asked recently on a legal forum, because the situation described above happened. A mother gave up a child through the state child welfare agency with an agreement for continuing contact; the adoptive parents decided they could not handle the child and are trying to arrange an adoption with another couple. If the child is adopted by another couple is the agreement with the mother still valid?
Probably not, unless this was expressly included in the agreement. It's unlikely that it was since adoption, according to advocates, promises a child a "forever family" it would be a contradiction to include a provision for what happens if the adoptive parents dump the child. The mother in this case could ask a judge to order visits--but there's nothing in the law that covers this. In addition, the mother may not even know where the child will go. These "re-homing" arrangements may take place in a Starbucks--or a parking lot.
The new adoptive parents may not know about the designated parenting time that the original adoptive parents agreed to, or even who the natural mother is. Unlike the law of property, open adoption agreements are not recorded on county deed records available to the public, but contained in sealed court files.
Open adoption agreements, while used by the industry to induce mothers to give up their children, were originally created primarily for the child. As adults tussle over these agreements, however, the child is soon forgotten. We know that the vast majority of open adoptions are not truly "open," and that most, for all intents and purposes, actually close up within five years.
Open adoptions can be a vast improvement over the closed-adoption system of yore, but they are not the panacea that they appear to be on first impression. If a woman is considering keeping her child, and the option of "openness" is seen as a viable alternative, she should stop and seriously consider how it will feel to have her child raised by someone else, and leave her with no say-so if something bothers her. And she needs to be mindful that if a "forever family" does not hold, and there is a subsequent adoption, the child may be in the same position of those adoptees of yore who are forced to beg and plead to learn their origins, and she will be left out in the cold.--jane
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Open adoption--does it really solve all the problems?
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What is an 'open' adoption?
Catelynn and Tyler's open adoption closing?
Is it a 'Birth Certificate or a Certificate of Title?
Re-homing: Dumping unwanted adopted kids
The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole
By Lori Holden
"The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, is a welcome addition to the adoption "bookshelf" for pre- and post-adoptive parents as well as adoption professionals. Written with her daughter's birthmother, the author uses her personal experience with open adoption to offer a new way to look at openness in adoption. This is not just about letters, photos, and/or visits with birthfamily - this book suggests an approach to emotional openness, even in families for whom contact with birthparents may be neither possible nor advisable.The book is well-written, personable, and filled with illustrative stories from bio- and adoptive parents that bring to life the various strategies as well as potential pitfalls to the process"--Jeff at Amazon