What is a Post Adoption Contact Agreement?
A Post Adoption Contact Agreement, commonly referred to as “PACA” at Adoptions From The Heart, is a formal and legal agreement that outlines the contact birth parents and adoptive parents will continue after placement.
Only certain states have legally enforceable post contact agreements. The type of legally enforceable contact agreements vary by state.
Why do we encourage PACA’s:
As social workers, it is
our job to ensure our clients are aware of laws surrounding the adoption
process. The adoption process can be very emotional and overwhelming for birth
parents. As birth parents, it can be difficult to imagine what type of contact
you may want in the future. PACA’s ensure that both parties have agreed to the
level of contact that will be maintained throughout the child’s life.
Misconceptions about PACA’s:
- PACA’s mean more contact: When two parties enter a PACA, it isn’t because the birth parents want more contact than originally discussed or agreed upon. A “PACA” is a mutual agreement between both adoptive and birth parents. For example, a PACA can just include the minimal amount of contact such as one visit and annual pictures. When a birth parent requests a PACA, it does not mean they want more contact or want to co-parent. It simply means they want to ensure that adoptive parents are dedicated to maintaining contact.
- PACA could cause confusion or harm my child: Adoptive parents may feel that a legal document ensuring future contact is forcing their child to have a relationship with their birth parents. There is concern that children may not want to continue visits and they will be legally bound to continue them. Most “PACA’s” clearly state that the child will have say in the visits when are reach a certain age to make their own decision. Moreover, the formal agreement states that the contact is always in the best interest of the child. A “PACA” can be modified by the court, if there are any concerns. Rather than causing confusion or harm, it provides protection for all parties because it is a legal document that all parties are agreeing to. Additionally, a “PACA” shows the birth parents and the child that you are dedicated to them having a relationship with their biological family.
What are the benefits?
–Starts the conversation about boundaries: If adoptive parents and birth parents request a PACA, they are having to discuss what type of contact is envisioned for the future. They are having real conversations of how often contact will occur, what type of contact whether phone, letters or visits, and who will be involved in the future contact. These conversations allow for birth parents to have realistic expectations regarding future contact with the adoptive family and child.
- Provides reassurance: When adoptive parents are willing to sign a PACA with birth parents, it shows that families are committed to having contact. Birth parents can have some peace of mind knowing that their child will know who they are and hopefully build a lasting relationship with them. It allows them to know they will be there to watch the child grow up and they chose a family that is dedicated to helping them maintain a relationship with the child.
- Best interest of the child: Open adoption has shown to have more positive effects for the child and families with open adoption report to have more positive adoption experiences. Post Adoption Contract’s will only be approved by a judge if they are in the best interest of the child. Additionally, if there are any concerns that the contact could be detrimental to the child’s well-being, post adoption contract agreements outline that contact will only continue if it is in the best interest of the child.
If you are an expecting mother considering adoption or prospective adoptive parents who want to learn more about PACA, contact one of our social workers to learn more at 833-355-5500.