Are you considering adoption in the Baton Rouge area? It’s essential to understand all the possible routes open to you. One common type of adoption is “open adoption,” which entails a legal agreement that allows birth parents (and sometimes other family members) to stay involved in the lives of children placed into adoptive homes.
Keep reading to learn about the reported benefits of open adoptions, as well as the must-know legal implications of open adoptions in the United States.
Is An Open Adoption the Right Choice?
It’s important to remember that there’s no universal “right” choice in adoption. Every family and situation is different. However, if you’re on the fence about open adoptions, you can rest assured that many family and adoption experts agree on the benefits of open adoptions. Today, 60 to 70% of domestic adoptions are open. According to Adoption.com, open adoptions can carry many positive effects, including
- Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships – Parents say that maintaining an open adoption enhances parent-child relationships while also helping the child understand different roles of their birth and adoptive families, says com.
- Allowing Adoptees to Know Their Birth Families – Studies show that adoptees ages 18-23 preferred knowing who their birth parents were over not knowing.
- Strengthening Sense of Identity for Adoptees – According to research, an open relationship with their child’s biological family member(s) is beneficial for the child’s sense of identity.
- Emotional Health for Birth Mothers – Research shows birth mothers in an open adoption have lower adoption-related grief than those in a closed or confidential adoption. The same research indicated openness did not cause birth mothers to regret their decision to make an adoption plan, says com.
- Deeper Sense of Understanding for Adoptive Parents – Studies show that adoptive parents in an open relationship with their child’s birth family are more empathetic toward birth parents and children who are adopted, according to com.
The Legal Implications of Open Adoptions
Research supports that open adoptions can be a healthy adoption choice for everyone involved. However, open adoptions can carry specific legal challenges that adoptive parents and birth parents alike need to be aware of. Before agreeing to an open adoption, keep in mind these potential legal issues:
Even after selecting the adoptive parents, the birth mother has the right to withdraw from the adoption process without consequence. Adoptive parents need to be aware that withdrawing happens in one-third of all cases. However, after the papers are signed, the adoptive parents assume all legal rights to the child, says America Adopts.
Many adoptive parents fear that open adoptions will allow the birth mother to someday reclaim her baby. However, most adoption agencies take the proper legal steps to ensure this cannot happen. If the case does go to court, adoptive parents have the legal advantage – especially with the support of an attorney.
- Future Involvement
If a birthparent goes to court to try to overturn an adoption, the motivation is often a lack of contact. In most cases, birthparents claim that the adoptive parents broke their original promise to allow regular visits. These agreements are enforced on a state level, so biological parents may or may not have the legal right to contact. Courts generally only enforce an open adoption agreement if it clearly benefits the minor child. Normally, couples must decide on an individual basis how much contact they will permit.
- Future Changes
To carry any weight, legal agreements must be approved before the adoption finalization. For example, a birth parent cannot request visits that are not covered in the original agreement. Changes to existing agreements are occasionally permitted if they are in the best interest of the child and both sides agree.
- Differing Laws
It’s important to remember that if you adopted out of state, you might need to abide by the laws of both Louisiana and the state you adopted from. Differing state laws have different implications for visitation rights for birth relatives such as siblings.
Open adoptions can benefit adopted children, adoptive families, and birth families in many ways – but open adoptions can also be complicated and confusing. America Adopts recommends improving your chances for a happy and healthy adoption by always talking with a family law attorney before and during your adoption process.
Do you need help navigating the legal process and challenges of an open adoption in Baton Rouge, Louisiana? As an experienced and client-focused family law firm, we’re here to make your adoption process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Get started by calling our Baton Rouge office at 225-343-2205 or message us online.
3960 Government St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806