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Old 05-30-2008, 07:23 AM   #1
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Question about leagal proceedings.

Ok so things are going really well. We met with the biomom last Sunday and we really had a great meeting. She asked us about our lives,family, etc. Well she said she would really like to meet my parents since we are so close to them. On Tuesday she called to see if we could all go to lunch. So we are going to lunch on Sunday. I told her that we have a meeting with an Attorney on Tuesday. It's our 1st meeting with him.

So here's my question. During my conversation with the biomom she asked if we would ask the attorney about how we would word the open adoption in the paperwork and if it were possible to put anything in the papers about visitation. So my question is that can we put anything in the papers about visitation? What's your experience with the leagal side? I really want to have a heads up about this.

BTW, we are not opposed to her having visits with him, we just don't know how much we can live with. We were thinking that because we live close we would allow 2 times a year. (birthday and 1 major holiday).

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Old 05-30-2008, 09:52 AM   #2
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Re: Question about leagal proceedings.

Unless I am mistaken open adoption agreements are in no way legally enforceable. Once the potential birthmother & birthfather terminates their rights they no longer have any legal recourse to expect visitation.

That said, for those entering into an open adoption agreement I personally think that there are moral and ethical issues to consider and everything should be spelled out somehow but where to spell it out I am not sure.

I truly am not trying to be Debbie downer here but there are some red flags in your situation that I (if I were in your shoes) might be concerned about. I would be concerned that the biological father is nowhere in the picture here. Unless the young lady you are working with has had many partners (which I don't think is the truth) she knows who the potential father (s) are and should know some how (through friends, etc) to contact him (them) or have him (them) contacted. In the 3 adoptions that I have personally been involved with the biological father has been a large issue everytime. Once the biological father contested the adoption which required a lengthly legal proceeding and delayed our ability to finalize, once we went through a failed adoption where the biological mom told everyone one person was the father when in fact another was and again caused a lengthy legal proceeding and left the biological mom with no rights and the baby in the care of the last person she wanted to have him be with, and in one we were told that the biological father was unknown which left us in legal limbo until we went through the publishing exercise to terminate an unknown father. What you are taking when you adopt a newborn from the hospital during the timeframe of revoking consent is called a legal risk placement. Most people who do this know the risk and are willing to accept it - I wish that we had thought more about this because, after we adopted dd 1 we had a failed adoption after 5 mos (very long story!) that impacted my daughter tremedously. If the no named father is still an issue PLEASE ask your lawyer about the Puntitve Father Registry and find out if your state has one and know what it means.

The other issue that I see surrounds the word visitation. Deep down, does she really want to parent? What relationship is she wishing to build? What relationship do you think she will build and expect? What will happen if those expectations are different? Having access to see the child is the very beginning of the process, emotions will be the hard part to deal with. I think those are questions to explore as you go through this process as well to help identify any other concerns which would lead to misunderstandings and heartache.

I truly am not trying to overstep my bounds here - as I said in another post adoption, even when it's called a 'good open adoption' usually has issues that everyone has to work through - especially when there are decisions being made without counselors or support staff being involved. At worst, the biological mother feels like ultimately she solved a temporary concern with a permanent decision and at best, she still feels heartache over the decision that she made.

The issues above would be some of the questions I would ask the lawyer. Hopefully you are dealing with a lawyer that has done a lot of adoptions, especially ones that originate in your state/county he or she should be well versed about the legalities and the issues.

I really do wish you the very best of luck!
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Old 05-30-2008, 01:19 PM   #3
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Re: Question about leagal proceedings.

I would echo a lot of what the previous poster said... we had a failed adoption and the pmother said that she didn't know how to contact the pfather... She was LYING! She didn't want the father to know because she knew he would "mess up her plans" The night before the baby was born, the father called her and had heard through "friends" that she was making an adoption plan... he was very upset... he didn't want to parent the child, but wanted her to keep the child or have another family member raise her.... So when she gave birth, she called us to come to the hospital (didn't tell us about the surfacing father) and called a social worker for counseling...

Long story short... the SW convinced her that the baby would be better off with her, after we had the baby home with us for 8 days! We knew it was a legal risk, and I'm not sorry we did it, because we learned a lot in the whole process... but it was heartbreaking.

Also, the potential firstmom should have her own legal counsel (which the adoptive parents pay for) so I wouldn't answer any legal questions for her, but tell her to ask her own lawyer.. but yes, most states do not honor any "open adoption contracts" except for Oregon or Washington? (I think).

Whatever openness arrangments you want to make.... I would be very clear in whatever boundaries you create. Meaning, once you are the child's parents, you have every right to decide who has a role in the child's life... keep in mind that people move... people change.... (sometimes not for the better) and you have the right to protect your child from anyone who may not be a good role model or who may emotionally hurt your child (even if it's unintentional)

For instance, I know of an open adoption situation in Washington/Oregon (whichever one has the legal contracts honored) and the adoptive parents have to pay to have the firstmom flown in for a visit once (or twice?) a year.. and when she comes to visit she tells the child... "I'm your mom, you need to listen to me." and is completely disrespectful to the adoptive parent's role as her parents.

Not saying that any of this will happen... but it could, and the potential firstfamily needs to know what is/isn't acceptable behavior around your child... that respect/trust must be on both sides of the relationship or the relationship could be damaged. (Just like any relationship.)

With every negative "story" I'm sure there are tons of "positive" stories on open adoption.... I know a family who has her children's firstmoms come to visit often and sometimes the firstgrandma even babysits... the children know they are adopted, but it wasn't until recently that they learned that their trusted "friend" was actually their firstmom (and first aunt.. the girls' firstmoms are sisters)

But I think that the pmom needs to know that adoption isn't like "divorce" where you negotiate for "visitation rights" in court.... it's a permanant thing.. once her rights are terminated, even if the adoptive parents die, she can't have her rights restored. (that's how our lawyer explained it to us.)

Good luck... and I'll continue to pray for you!
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Old 05-30-2008, 11:54 PM   #4
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Re: Question about leagal proceedings.

Thanks mamas. That's exactly what I'm asking for. I have a lot of questions for the attorney. We have so much to do before the baby gets here.
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