Adoption Q&A #19
Q: Is there ever contact between birth parents and adoptive parents after a termination of parental rights and adoptive placement?
A: It is not unusual for a birth parent to make an informal arrangement with the parents who adopt her child to have some form of further contact. Typically, an informal agreement is reached between the parties under which the adoptive parents may forward a progress report or photos on a periodic basis. Occasionally, some form of contact is agreed upon. All parties need to remember that the termination of parental rights means just that; the child will be raised by different parents. Consequently, the interest of the child would be best furthered by making it clear that the adoptive parents are the parents that have child-raising responsibilities. If any contact is involved, it should be limited so that the child will not be confused.
There is pending in the Wisconsin Legislature SB 140 (www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB140hst.html) which, if passed and signed into law, would permit court supervised visitation, in those cases in which the rights of a parent or both parents are terminated and they have had a prior role in the raising of the child. This new law would perhaps encourage adoption by stepparents and relinquishment of rights by uninvolved birth parents, knowing that there could still be some form of contact. The bill has sponsors on both sides of the aisle. It is being supported by many judges and lawyers. Such a past termination arrangement must have a court-approved written agreement and may later be enforced by a court. Remember, it is only for parents that have had a substantial relationship with the child, not birth parents of infants.