Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families - Rhode Island

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What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-14.1

Postadoption privileges may include postadoption visitation, contact, and/or conveyance of information.

A postadoption privileges 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 privileges agreement
  • An acknowledgment by the adoptive parents that the agreement grants the birth parents the right to seek to enforce the postadoption privileges set forth in the agreement

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-14.1

The adoptive parents and the birth parents may jointly negotiate and execute a postadoption privileges agreement that is approved and filed with the family court.

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

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-14.1

At the time an adoption decree is entered, the court entering the decree may grant postadoption visitation, contact, and/or conveyance of information privileges (hereinafter referred to as 'postadoption privileges') to a birth parent who has consented to an adoption, voluntarily terminated the parent-child relationship, or has had his or her parental rights involuntarily terminated.

A court may grant postadoption privileges if:

  • The court determines that the best interests of the child would be served by granting postadoption privileges.
  • The court finds there is a significant emotional attachment between the child and the birth parent.
  • The adoptive parents and the birth parents jointly negotiate and execute a postadoption privileges agreement that is approved and filed with the family court.
  • The Department of Children, Youth, and Families and the child's court-appointed special advocate or the guardian ad litem recommend that the postadoption privileges agreement be approved by the court; or if the adoption petition is being sponsored by a licensed child-placing agency other than the department, the licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption recommends that the postadoption privileges agreement be approved by the court.
  • Consent to the postadoption privileges is obtained from the child if the child is at least 12 years of age.
  • The postadoption privileges agreement is approved by the court.

Are agreements legally enforceable?

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-14.1

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

Before the court hears a motion to compel compliance with an agreement, the court shall give notice and an opportunity to be heard to the licensed, child-placing agency that sponsored the adoption and to the child's court-appointed special advocate or court-appointed guardian ad litem, if one had been appointed prior to the finalization of adoption.

The court may not award monetary damages as a result of the filing of a petition under the above section.

A court may not revoke a decree of adoption because a birth parent or an adoptive parent fails to comply with a postadoption privileges agreement approved by the court.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-14.1

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

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

Before the court voids or modifies an agreement, the court shall give notice and an opportunity to be heard to the licensed, child-placing agency that sponsored the adoption and to the child's court-appointed special advocate or court-appointed guardian ad litem, if one had been appointed prior to the finalization of adoption.