Open Adoption Rules and the Post Adoption Agreement

Open Adoption Agreement Laws by State

Chelsea Moore

Listen to Birth Mom Chelsea talk about Open Adoption Agreements.

What is an open adoption agreement?

Post-adoption contact agreements (also called “open adoption agreements”) are agreements between birth parents and adoptive parents that specify how and when contact and/or communication will happen after an adoption. These adoption rules affect what will happen after an adoption.

 

giphy Keep scrolling to see which states enforce Post-Adoption Contact Agreements.

 

Are Open Adoption Agreements (sometimes called "Post-Adoption Contact Agreements") legally enforceable? 

Adoption rules change based on the state you are in. Approximately 25 states (plus the District of Columbia) have laws that make contact agreements between birth parents and adoptive parents enforceable as long as the court agrees that the agreement is in the child’s best interest. 

Approximately seven states have laws making open adoption agreements enforceable, but only in certain circumstances (such as where the child is being adopted by a step parent, if the child is over the age of 2, if the child is adopted from foster care, or if the child lived with the birth relative before the adoption).

Approximately six states have laws that specifically make open adoption agreements unenforceable.

Approximately 20 states still don’t have any laws about open adoption agreements.

Open Adoption Rules Post Adoption Agreement Laws by State Map

Enforceable

In purple, you'll see states that have laws making open adoption agreements between birth parents and adoptive parents enforceable (without special circumstances*).

These include:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California 
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Enforceable in special circumstances

*In light, checkered orange, you'll see states that make open adoption agreements enforceable but only in certain circumstances.

These include:

  • Oklahoma
  • Alabama
  • Utah
  • Indiana
  • Vermont 
  • Wisconsin
  • Texas

Unenforceable

In orange, you'll see states that have made open adoption agreements unenforceable.

These include:

  • Delaware
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Ohio

Silent = Unenforceable

In light purple, you'll see states that don’t have any laws about open adoption agreements.

These include:

  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Wyoming

If a state does not have a law that talks about open adoption agreements, that means the agreements are unenforceable in that state.

Find an ethical adoption attorney.

If you are considering adoption, or are already in the process of making an adoption plan for your unborn baby, you'll need an ethical adoption attorney near you who is experienced in representing expectant mothers.