One of the first questions an expectant mother planning to place her child for adoption may ask is if she will be allowed to visit her child after the adoption has been finalized. Often, when an expectant mother places a child for adoption, she wants to have the child in her life in some capacity—personal visits, phone calls, email, and photo sharing. Open adoption has made visitation between a birthmother and child possible following adoption; however, there are factors that may limit contact between a birthmother and her child.
If an adoption took place in a closed adoption state or the adoptive parents of the biological child deny a birthmother contact, there is a high possibility that a birthmother will have to wait until her child is of legal age to legally locate and have contact her biological child.
Placing a child for adoption is one the toughest decisions an expectant mother will ever make in her life. It is not because she doesn’t care for her child; she loves her child and believes adoption is the best chance at a good life for her child. Many of these women would love to remain a part of their child’s life after placement through face-to-face contact, emailing, sharing photos, updates on milestones, etc. In healthy situations, it can be very beneficial to all members of the adoption triad when a birthmother has contact with her biological child, and may reduce any depression, trauma, or anxiety an adoptee may feel related to his/her adoption.
Open adoption is quickly becoming the preferred choice of adoption placement for birthmothers today. It allows birthmothers to remain in their child’s life and may reduce or eliminate feelings of regret and depression. In many open adoptions, adoptive parents have the power to regulate the amount of contact and time allowed between a birthmother and her biological child. Contracts can be drawn up by an adoption attorney before placing the child with selected adoptive parents to ensure the terms of the open adoption agreement are met. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, “a written contractual agreement between the parties to an adoption can clarify the type and frequency of the contact or communication and can provide a way for the agreement to be legally enforced. Approximately 28 States and the District of Columbia currently have statutes that allow written and enforceable agreements. Expectant mothers are highly encouraged to have a contract in order before terminating her parental rights.”
If an expectant mother is involved in a closed adoption, it means that there is no exchange of information or updates between a birthmother and adoptive family until the child reaches legal age. Legal age is defined differently from state to state and is typically between 18-21 years of age. When the adopted child reaches legal age, in many states, records can be opened and contact can be made between a birthmother and her biological child. Visitation for birthmothers at that time will be at the discretion of the adopted child.