Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families - Louisiana

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What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Children's Code Art. 1269.3

Every postadoption contact agreement shall be in writing and signed by the adopting parents and by any adult granted contact. If a sibling granted contact is a minor, his or her parent or legal custodian shall sign the agreement.

If requested by the parties, the court may refer them to mediation to assist them in drafting the agreement. If necessary to ensure that the child's best interests are taken into account, the court may also appoint independent counsel for any child involved in future continuing contact.

A continuing contact agreement may authorize the exchange of information; communication by telephone, mail, email, or other means; and direct visitation in either the adopting parents' home or elsewhere through a mutually agreed upon intermediary.

Every agreement must declare the following:

  • The parties have freely and voluntarily entered into the agreement, and it reflects their intent to be bound by its terms, unless later modified by a replacement agreement or by court order.
  • The sibling, grandparent, parent, or other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity has been counseled and advised by the Department of Children and Family Services, counsel, or other appropriate professional about the meaning of the terms and the effects of a continuing contact agreement, and each has had the opportunity to have the agreement reviewed by his or her counsel.
  • The sibling, grandparent, parent, or other relative has been informed and understands that upon the execution of the agreement, any dispute or litigation regarding its terms shall not affect the validity of any surrender, termination of parental rights, adoption, or custody of the adopted child.
  • The adopting parents have been informed and understand that the sibling, grandparent, parent, or other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity may seek enforcement of the terms of the agreement in accordance with Article 1269.8.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?

Citation: Children's Code Art. 1264; 1269.2

In an agency adoption in which the department is the custodian of the child, the court may approve an agreement providing for continuing contact between the child to be adopted and his or his grandparent, sibling, and any parent, if both of the following conditions are met:

  • The child has an established, significant relationship with that person to the extent that its loss would cause substantial harm to the child.
  • The preservation of the relationship would otherwise be in the best interests of the child.

If there is no parental relationship that meets the requirements of the paragraph above, the court may approve an agreement providing for continuing contact between the child to be adopted and any other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity whose relationship with the child meets those requirements.

When adoption is approved by the court as the permanent plan for the child, the department shall inform any parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other relative or foster parent who meets the requirements above of the possibility of postadoption contact with the child upon agreement with the adoptive parents.

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the natural parents of a deceased person whose surviving child is thereafter adopted and the parents of a person whose parental rights have been terminated may have limited visitation rights to the adopted minor child.

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

Citation: Children's Code Art. 1269.4; 1269.5

Within 10 days after the petition is filed, the department, attorney for the child, attorney for the parent, or attorney for the prospective adoptive parents shall file an agreement for continuing contact in the court in which the adoption is pending. The agreement may be filed later than 10 days after execution if the court agrees upon a showing of good cause.

If either the department or counsel for the child objects to the agreement, the court may conduct a hearing before approving the agreement.

The court shall review a continuing contact agreement executed in conformity with the requirements of this chapter.

If the court finds that an agreement serves the best interests of the child, the agreement shall be incorporated into a judgment of the court. An agreement reached by the parties and approved by the department and counsel representing the child is presumed to serve the best interests of the child. The judgment shall provide that failure to comply with the terms of the agreement does not constitute grounds for annulling a surrender or the final decree of adoption.

If the court rejects the agreement, it shall make specific findings of fact in support of its conclusion that the best interests of the child would not be served by approval of the agreement. The factors to be considered shall include:

  • The duration of the child's relationship with the parent, grandparent, sibling, or other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity seeking continuing contact
  • The strength of the psychological attachment between the child and the individual seeking continuing contact
  • The resulting harm to the child if the relationship is not preserved

If the child is age 12 or older, the court shall solicit and consider the child's wishes in the matter.

Are agreements legally enforceable?

Citation: Children's Code Art. 1269.6

A continuing contact agreement shall be enforceable only if filed with the court and approved in accordance with article 1269.5.

Failure to comply with the terms of an agreement made pursuant to this chapter is not grounds for nullifying a surrender or an adoption decree or revocation by a biological parent of a surrender or consent to an adoption or for any action seeking the child's custody. Failure to include this warning in the judgment as required by article 1269.5 shall not affect the adoption.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

Citation: Children's Code Art. 1269.8

Unless another court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the court shall retain jurisdiction after the decree of adoption is entered for the purpose of hearing motions brought to enforce, modify, or terminate an agreement entered into pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

Before hearing such a motion, the court shall refer the parties to mediation. Only if the court finds that the party seeking relief has participated, or attempted to participate in good faith, in mediating the dispute may it proceed to a determination on the merits of the motion.

If the child is age 12 or older, the court shall solicit and consider the child's wishes in the matter.

The court shall order continuing compliance in accordance with the agreement and refuse to modify or terminate it unless it finds that there has been a change of circumstances and the agreement no longer serves the best interests of the child.