At Grant Legal Group PA, we have more than 90 years of collective experience in family and adoption law. With this experience, we are able to advise you on a wide variety of adoption matters and issues.
A lot of times, we will get the question, “do you perform closed adoptions?” A closed adoption is defined as a form of adoption where the biological parents have no direct contact with the adoptive parents, and the adoptive parents quite often know little or nothing about the biological parents.
In Mississippi, the choice of whether the adoption is closed or open often depends on the arrangement agreed upon in coordination with the adoption agency. The distinction really has nothing to do with the legal process. Instead, throughout the adoption process as well as after the finalization, the adoptive family are generally free to involve the biological parents in the child’s life however they deem appropriate or as agreed upon in coordination with the adoption agency. An important point, though, is that it might be a bad idea to involve the biological parents in the adoption process if there is much of a chance the parents will withdraw their consent or otherwise challenge the adoption. If that occurs, then the adoptive parents’ decision to involve the biological parents in the child’s life might make terminating the biological parents’ rights (which requires proving abandonment or unfitness) more difficult.
Importantly, when the adoption is finalized, the adoptive family will no longer have any legal obligation to involve the biological parents in the child’s life. In that sense, the adoption could be considered “closed” if the adoptive parents elect not to involve the biological parents in the child’s life. But at the same time, nothing generally prevents the adoptive parents from involving the biological parents in the child’s life if that is appropriate to the situation.
There are a variety of reasons for and against involving the biological parents in the child’s life after the adoption. And those reasons are really beyond the scope of this post, although it is something we are happy to discuss over the phone if the topic interests you. If you use an agency to adopt, they are another great resource on the topic of open versus closed adoptions, and the benefits of each method. The agency should intimately know the parties involved and are probably in the best position to advise you on what arrangement would be the best fit for your situation.
Some agencies will even prepare contracts to be signed between the adoptive parents and the biological parents. For example, the adoptive parents might agree to share photographs with the biological parents for several years after the adoption. However, such agreements are likely not legally enforceable. Instead, the court’s adoption judgment would control over any such out-of-court contract between the adoptive family and the biological parents. And again, the judgment of adoption would give all decision-making authority to the adoptive parents, and terminate the rights of the biological parents.
The bottom line is that the actual legal work involved in the adoption really has nothing to do with whether the adoption is open or closed. It is more of a personal decision that the adoptive family makes after considering the specifics of the situation and ideally, if applicable, in coordination with the adoption agency.
If you have any questions on open or closed adoptions, please give us a call. Our number is (601) 827-3031.