Often times, when they think of adoption, think of closed adoptions where the birth mother never sees her child and the child has to go on a long, possibly fruitless search for their birth parents later in life. Thankfully, this is no longer the reality. In New York State, from New York City to Buffalo to Albany to Plattsburgh, open adoption is the most common choice for birth parents.
New York State law allows for and supports birth parents who choose an open adoption plan for their child. The reason open adoption is so often chosen by birth parents is because it allows the birth mother and/or birth father to have an ongoing relationship with the child and the adoptive family. This ongoing relationship is good for everyone involved for many reasons, which we have explored here. But in New York, what does it legally mean for an adoption to be open?
Open adoption in NY has been validated by the New York State Courts. Some birth parents fear that the adoptive parents will cut them out of their child’s life completely after the adoption is finalized. While it is rare that the adoptive family would try to keep a birth mother in the dark, there is a safeguard in place to protect birth parents rights to contact with their child. This safeguard is a Post Adoption Contract Agreement (PACA), which is an agreement birth parents and adoptive parents come to in the course of making an adoption plan. The agreement outlines how often the adoptive family will send pictures, letters and updates, as well as if and when visits will take place. A birth parent who has a post adoption contract agreement can feel comfortable knowing that the adoptive parents cannot legally cut them off from the updates and contact which was agreed upon in the PACA. The courts in New York State have allowed a PACA to become a part of the adoption process. All post adoption contact specified in this Agreement (like sharing pictures, sending letters and having yearly visits) is enforceable by the courts in New York. This PACA is only available to birth parents when an agency has matched the birth family and the adoptive family and is part of the adoption.
Birth parents who choose open adoption will see their child grow and know how they are doing. They may, if they choose, have scheduled visits with their child. The child will grow up knowing who ALL of his or her parents are, and as they grow older will have access to important social and genetic information that only a biological parent can provide. Open adoption allows birth parents and their children to know each other and have a special relationship. Having a relationship that includes visitation works best when both families live in New York, but New York State residency is not a requirement for a PACA to be valid.
Open adoption is a choice that brings peace and joy to the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and most importantly the child. Here at Family Connections, we encourage birth parents to work with an agency that supports open adoption and to consider having a level of openness with the adoptive family that they feel comfortable with. If you have any questions about open adoption in New York, please feel free to ask. We will be happy to talk with you! 1-607-756-6574 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org