Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families - New York

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What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 383-c(2)(b); Dom. Rel. Law § 112-b

If a child surrender instrument designates who will adopt a child, such person or persons, the child's birth parents, the authorized agency having care and custody of the child, and the child's attorney may enter into a written agreement providing for communication or contact between the child and the child's parent or parents on such terms and conditions as may be agreed to by the parties.

If the surrender instrument does not designate who will adopt the child, then the child's birth parent or parents, the authorized agency having care and custody of the child, and the child's attorney may enter into a written agreement providing for communication or contact, on such terms and conditions as may be agreed to by the parties.

Such agreement may provide terms and conditions for communication with or contact between the child and the child's biological siblings or half-siblings, if any.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the parties to a proceeding under this chapter from entering into an agreement regarding communication with or contact between an adoptive child, adoptive parent or parents, and a birth parent or parents and/or the adoptive child's biological siblings or half-siblings.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 383-c(2)(b); Dom. Rel. Law § 112-b

The parties to the adoption may enter into an agreement regarding communication with or contact between an adoptive child, adoptive parent or parents, and a birth parent or parents and/or the adoptive child's biological siblings or half-siblings.

If a surrender instrument designates a particular person or persons who will adopt a child, such person or persons, the child's birth parent or parents, the authorized agency having care and custody of the child, and the child's legal guardian may enter into the agreement. If a surrender instrument does not designate a particular person or persons who will adopt the child, then the child's birth parent or parents, the authorized agency having care and custody of the child, and the child's law guardian may enter into the agreement.

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

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 383-c(2)(b); Dom. Rel. Law § 112-b

If the court before which the surrender instrument is presented for approval determines that the agreement concerning communication and contact is in the child's best interests, the court shall approve the agreement. If the court does not approve the agreement, the court may nonetheless approve the surrender--provided, however, that the birth parent or parents executing the surrender instrument shall be given the opportunity at that time to withdraw the surrender instrument.

The court shall not incorporate an agreement regarding communication or contact into an order unless the terms and conditions of the agreement have been set forth in writing and consented to in writing by the parties to the agreement, including the law guardian representing the adoptive child. The court shall not enter a proposed order unless it has found that the communication with or contact between the adoptive child, the prospective adoptive parent or parents, and a birth parent or parents and/or biological siblings or half-siblings, as agreed upon and as set forth in the agreement, would be in the adoptive child's best interests.

Are agreements legally enforceable?

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 383-c(2)(b); Dom. Rel. Law § 112-b; Fam. Crt. Act § 1055-a

Enforcement of any agreement prior to the adoption of the child shall be in accordance with § 1055-a(b) of the Family Court Act. Subsequent to the adoption of the child, enforcement of any agreement shall be in accordance with § 112-b of the Domestic Relations Law.

Agreements regarding communication or contact between an adoptive child, adoptive parent or parents, and a birth parent or parents and/or biological siblings or half-siblings of an adoptive child shall not be legally enforceable unless the terms of the agreement are incorporated into a written court order. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of an approved order regarding communication or contact that has been entered by the court pursuant to this section shall not be grounds for setting aside an adoption decree or revocation of written consent to an adoption after that consent has been approved by the court as provided in this section.

An order incorporating an agreement regarding communication or contact entered under this section may be enforced by any party to the agreement or the law guardian by filing a petition in the family court in the county where the adoption was approved.

The court shall not enforce an order under this section unless it finds that the enforcement is in the child's best interests. If an agreement for continuing contact and communication pursuant to § 383-c(2)(b) of the social services law is approved by the court, and the child who is the subject of the approved agreement has not yet been adopted, any party to the approved agreement may file a petition with the family court in the county where the agreement was approved to enforce such agreement. A copy of the approved agreement shall be annexed to such petition. The court shall enter an order enforcing communication or contact pursuant to the terms and conditions of the agreement unless the court finds that enforcement would not be in the best interests of the child.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.