This story was adapted from an article that was written for our Summer 2011 newsletter
Imagine falling into a well and the only way out is to grab onto a rope offered by a caring and supportive adult. This adult offers you safety and security and you are drawn toward their kindness. You have faith they will protect you and you trust them to do as they promise so you grab the rope and begin to climb to safety. You feel elated and cannot believe that another human could be so respectful and take responsibility for your well-being.
Suddenly you are half-way up the rope, the adult begins to let go and you are suspended in mid-air trying to determine what happened. You are flooded with a sense of defeat, betrayal and loss. Immediately you think perhaps the helper might be in danger and you wonder if they are alright. Then you wonder if you did something wrong to cause the problem. You could be hanging there suspended for a few seconds, a minute, an hour, a day or weeks….
Now put yourself in the place of a birth parent who is promised future pictures, letters and visits when an adoption plan is made. As a person in crisis, you want what is best for your child and you make the ultimate sacrifice to be sure your child is safe and protected. You feel very pleased there is an agency that has open adoptions. You are reassured by the caring and supportive staff at the agency that a promise is a promise and you are so glad pregnant women are no longer treated as they were in earlier times. It is great to be treated with dignity and respect…but what if you were promised pictures, a letter or a visit and the adoptive family did not respond?
In the past, there was no legal recourse for birth parents because in PA a promise made for future contact was just that a promise. With the implementation of PA Adoption Act 101 on April 27 2011, an agreement made by birth and adoptive families is now legally binding when filed with and approved by the Court if all parties so choose. With a court approved contract, all parties to the adoption show their good faith that they intend to remain dedicated to their promise to uphold the mutually agreeable, future contact agreement.
On the very first day this law took effect, Adoptions From the Heart had the first birth and adoptive family submit their future contact agreement to the court. Since that time, all parties have been very satisfied with the outcome. They had planned to exchange pictures and letters but with the new law there is mutual respect between the birth and adoptive families. Now, no one feels like they are hanging from a rope in the middle of a well.
PA is not the only state with binding agreements, if you have questions about the Act or are interested in an open adoption agreement, you should consult your adoption agency, adoption social worker or an attorney with experience in Adoption Law.