A Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) is an agreement the birth parents sign along with the adoption relinquishment. It is also signed by the adoptive parents. It allows for certain, specified contacts between the birth parent(s) and the adoptive family. Some states allow for these agreements and will enforce them, other states do not. Fellows of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys can explain and draft an agreement that works for your particular adoption situation.
What is the Purpose of a Post Adoption Contact Agreement?
Sometimes birth parents will only allow an adoption to go forward if a PACA is included in the adoption plan. Adoptive parents should not view this as a sign of reluctance by the birth parents or an indication that they may change their minds later about the adoption. Rather, birth parents’ requests for a PACA usually means they want to make sure they are making the right decision by placing their child in a loving home.
While laws regarding PACAs vary from state to state, the breach of a PACA will not usually be grounds to revoke consent for the adoption or the adoption decree. However, if the adoptive family fails to comply with the PACA’s terms, adoption courts can fashion other forms of relief to correct these failures. The terms of the PACA are usually not permitted by law to expand or increase the amount of contacts. However, most states that allow PACAs will permit a court to reduce or eliminate specified contacts upon a finding of the best interests of the child.
What Does a Post Adoption Contact Agreement Look Like?
There is no single format for a PACA and there are no set contacts that you need to include. Some PACAs require adoptive parents to provide a birth parent with pictures and written updates about the child’s developments. Other PACAs may allow the birth parents to visit their biological children. PACAs often provide for pictures and written updates on a monthly basis for the first year. Then, this may decrease over time. PACAs more often include visitation requests in cases involving adopting older children compared to newborns.
No matter what the PACA includes, it must be in writing and signed by the birth parent(s) or legal guardian, as well as the adoptive parents. It then often becomes part of the decree of adoption. The PACA typically stays in place until the child is 18 years old unless the Court terminates it before that time or, by its terms, it ends sooner. However, termination would only be at the request of the adoptive family and the family would need to show that the PACA is not in the child’s best interest.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Draft a Post Adoption Contact Agreement?
To find out if a PACA is necessary and/or permitted for your adoption plan, schedule a consultation with a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys today. There are probably things that are very important to you that you want to include, but we will also help you address important provisions you may not have considered. An Academy attorney can help you draft a document that addresses your most pressing concerns about adoption. Additionally, we can discuss how to enforce the document moving forward.
— Eric Stovall is a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and Immediate Past President