Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roundtable #36: Agreements

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Write about open adoption agreements.  Is there one in your open adoption? What effect does it have on your relationships? If you could go back in time, would you approach the agreement differently?

I haven't participated in an OA Rountable since June of last year, when the prompt was about siblings.  I don't write about adoption very often any more, but this prompt caught my eye.

We have an open adoption agreement with Liam's Mom.  I had to get out my scrapbooks to remember exactly what it says.  It has one page for prior to placement and finalization.  On this we indicated yes to face-to-face meetings and telephone calls and letters at 6 months (the estimated time of finalization) It also indicates gifts to be exchanged at Christmas and July (Liam's birthday), with gifts sent through the adoption agency.  The other page refers to post finalization and indicates that we (the adoptive parents) have discussed having an open adoption after finalization. and has our names, address and phone number.  We wanted to ensure that she always had access to us.  However, we did not sign these papers with Liam's Mom present and I can't say if she got copies of them or not.

One part that I didn't recall being on there is this:

If either party wishes to revise this agreement, the Agency will facilitate a revision with the mutual consent of the birth parents and the adoptive parents. Failure to reach a consensus indicates that no revised agreement can be made and the original agreement stands. If the parties no longer wish to comply with this agreement it will become null and void
This agreement is signed in trust, is not legally binding, and in no way affects the legal status of the adoption.
Open adoption was (and is!) very important to me.  The problem is that you can't force someone into contact or a relationship.  So while we have kept communication open - sending letters, pictures, emails - it is all one sided.  Liam's Mom does not reciprocate.  I guess that makes our agreements null and void.  The only one who loses from this is Liam though; the only one who had no say in any of this.

Monika from Monika's Musings, a birthmom in an open adoption, recently wrote a great post: To the Uninvolved Birth Parent.    She also has another post about the legalities of open adoption agreements, and how they should go both ways.  She says everything that I feel, but so much more eloquently then I ever could. Please be sure to check her out, as well as all the other Open Adoption bloggers writing about this round table.
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