January 15th, 2010
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Question MarkI read a lot of adoption blogs, and on a birthmother’s blog, I found a link to the following item from Yahoo! Answers:

My question is, if at some point down the road, we no longer want to keep the adoption semi-open and want to make it a closed adoption, can we do that or can the birth parents then sue us for breach of contract?

My first thought is that these are somewhat typical first-time adoptive parents. They’re scared of open adoption, they’re not convinced of its benefits, etc. But when the original poster got a lot of answers about the ethics and morals involved, she added the following:

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I’ll ask in the Law section of Yahoo Answers since everyone here is overly sensitive to birth mothers. They’re giving their kids up for a reason: they’re terrible parents incapable of sustaining another life. If they don’t want the kid, they don’t deserve to know about it. That’s my take on it.

It’s people like this who perpetuate the stereotype of the ignorant, selfish, dishonest adoptive parents. The ones who will do anything to get a child. The ones that anti-adoption “activists” use to prove that adoption is bad.

Birth mothers who choose adoption for their children (yes – their children – you may adopt the child, but the child is always at least a little bit theirs) are not terrible parents. Frankly, I think they’re completely selfless, though I know some would disagree with me. Many birthmothers would make good parents, if their situations were different.

If you think like this woman, you need to seek help. No matter what, your child will have a tie to the person who gave birth to him. If you honestly think that birth parents are worthless, you’re setting your child up for a huge self-esteem crisis (at the least). Sadly, some social workers, lawyers, and adoption professionals will validate your opinion, mostly to get your money. Find an open forum and listen to what people have to say. Find a therapist who has some knowledge of adoption. Do not go into adoption thinking like this.

If you do not want any kind of open adoption, that is certainly your right. However, do not go into an adoption with the attitude that you can say whatever you want, then, once you have the child, you can close the adoption. First, it’s just plain wrong to lie. Second, you will crush the birth parent(s), who are human beings with feelings. Third, you will have to face your child someday. He will find out the circumstances of the adoption, realize that you lied, thus denying him a chance at a relationship with the person who gave birth to him. Fourth, you reflect badly on those of us who realize that birth parents are people too. Fifth, for the Christians in the audience, think “What would Jesus do?” – lying was not big on his list. Compassion was.

To go back to the Yahoo! Answers post, the answer that the asker liked the most was:

Absolutely, legally you can and of those I know who have tried to keep an open door it didn’t work out. After the adoption it’s all up to you and they have no legal footing at that time.

That may be the answer she liked, but it’s not the correct answer. Some states do have enforceable open adoption contracts, and if either party backs out, there are legal repercussions.

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3 Responses to “It’s People Like This…”

  1. Courtney O says:

    I recently found out that IL does not have any legal, binding laws about adoptive parents’ continued contact with their child’s birth mom. I couldn’t believe my ears. I said to our social worker, “So basically, shady, reprehensible adoptive parents can pull a bait-and-switch on a trusting birth mom who believes she’s entering an open adoption (at whatever level)–they can “act the part” and then do everything in their power to essentially force her out of the child’s life?” Unreal. There are no words, truly.

  2. Robyn C says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about blanket legally enforceable open adoption contracts. I think that parties do need an out if the child might be truly endangered or harmed by consistent contact. However, I’d rather deal with that and have the agreement than have nothing, which is essentially what we have now.

  3. dickons says:

    The need to have legally binding agreements must happen in all states. A mediation court could have rights to modify existing contracts to ensure fairness to all parties without burning all bridges.

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