Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families - Indiana

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What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-3; 31-19-16-9

A postadoption contact agreement must contain the following provisions:

  • An acknowledgment by the birth parents that the adoption is irrevocable, even if the adoptive parents do not abide by the postadoption contact agreement
  • An acknowledgment by the adoptive parents that the agreement grants the birth parents the right to seek enforcement of the postadoption privileges set forth in the agreement

Postadoption contact privileges are permissible without court approval in an adoption of a child who is younger than age 2 upon the agreement of the adoptive parents and a birth parent. However, postadoption contact privileges under this section may not include visitation. A postadoption contact agreement under this section:

  • Is not enforceable
  • May include contact through photographs, written and verbal updates, and other forms of communication
  • Does not have to be in writing
  • Does not affect the validity of a consent to an adoption, a waiver of notice, or the finality of the adoption

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-1; 31-19-16.5-1

At the time an adoption decree is entered, the court entering the adoption decree may grant postadoption contact privileges to a birth parent who has consented to the adoption or voluntarily terminated the parent-child relationship.

At the time an adoption decree is entered, the court may order the adoptive parents to provide specific postadoption contact for an adopted child who is at least age 2 with a preadoptive sibling if:

  • The court determines that the postadoption contact would serve the best interests of the adopted child.
  • Each adoptive parent consents to the court's order for postadoption contact privileges.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-2; 31-19-16.5-2

A court may grant postadoption contact privileges if:

  • The court determines that the best interests of the child would be served.
  • The child is at least age 2 and the court finds that there is a significant emotional attachment between the child and the birth parent.
  • Each adoptive parent consents to the granting of postadoption contact privileges.
  • The adoptive parents and the birth parents execute a postadoption contact agreement and file the agreement with the court.
  • The licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption and the child's court-appointed special advocate or guardian ad litem recommends the postadoption contact agreement to the court, or if there is no licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption, the local office or other agency that prepared an adoption report is informed of the contents of the agreement and comments on the agreement in the agency's report to the court.
  • Consent to postadoption contact is obtained from the child if the child is at least age 12.
  • The postadoption contact agreement is approved by the court.

In making its determination regarding sibling postadoption contact, the court shall consider any relevant evidence, including the following:

  • A recommendation made by a licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption
  • A recommendation made by the adopted child's court-appointed special advocate or guardian ad litem
  • A recommendation made by the local office or other agency that prepared a report of its investigation and its recommendation as to the advisability of the adoption
  • The wishes expressed by the adopted child or adoptive parents

Are agreements legally enforceable?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-4; 31-19-16-6; 31-19-16.5-4; 31-19-16.5-5

A birth parent or an adoptive parent may file a petition with the court entering the adoption decree to compel a birth parent or an adoptive parent to comply with the postadoption contact agreement.

Before the court hears a motion to compel compliance with an agreement, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate to represent and protect the best interests of the child. However, the court may only appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate for the adopted child if the interests of an adoptive parent differ from the child's interests to the extent that the court determines that the appointment is necessary to protect the best interests of the child.

The following persons may file a petition requesting that the court vacate or modify a postadoption contact order with a preadoptive sibling or to compel an adoptive parent to comply with the postadoption contact order:

  • A preadoptive sibling by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • The adopted child by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • An adoptive parent

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-4; 31-19-16-6; 31-19-16.5-4; 31-19-16.5-5

A birth parent or an adoptive parent may file a petition with the court entering the adoption decree to modify the postadoption contact agreement.

The court may void or modify a postadoption contact agreement at any time before or after the adoption if the court determines after a hearing that the best interests of the child requires the voiding or modifying of the agreement.

Before the court voids or modifies an agreement, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate to represent and protect the best interests of the child.

The following persons may file a petition requesting that the court vacate or modify a postadoption contact order with a preadoptive sibling:

  • A preadoptive sibling by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • The adopted child by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • An adoptive parent

The court may vacate or modify a postadoption contact order entered under this chapter at any time after the adoption if the court determines, after a hearing, that it is in the best interests of the adopted child.