Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families - Virginia

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What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1220.2

A postadoption contact and communication agreement may include, but is not limited to, provisions related to contact and communication between the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents and provisions for the sharing of information about the child, including sharing of photographs of the child and information about the child's education, health, and welfare.

Any postadoption contact and communication agreement shall include acknowledgment by the birth parents that the adoption of the child is irrevocable, even if the adoptive parents do not abide by the postadoption contact and communication agreement, and acknowledgment by the adoptive parents that the agreement grants the birth parents the right to seek to enforce the provisions set forth in the agreement. The petitioner for adoption shall file the agreement with other documents filed in the circuit court having jurisdiction over the child's adoption.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-283.1; 63.2-1220.2

In any case in which a child has been placed in foster care as a result of court commitment, an entrustment agreement entered into by the parent(s), or other voluntary relinquishment by the parent(s), the child's birth parent(s) may enter into a written postadoption contact and communication agreement with the preadoptive parent(s).

In any proceeding for adoption pursuant to Chapter 12, the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) of a child may enter into a written postadoption contact and communication agreement.

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

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-283.1; 63.2-1220.3; 63.2-1220.4

The court may consider the appropriateness of a written postadoption contact and communication agreement at the permanency planning hearing and, if the court finds that all of the requirements of § 16.1-283.1(A) and § 63.2-1220.2, et seq., have been met, shall incorporate the written postadoption contact and communication agreement into an order entered at the conclusion of the hearing.

The circuit court may approve a postadoption contact and communication agreement authorized pursuant to § 16.1-283.1 and filed with the court for a petition for adoption if:

  • The court determines that the child's best interests would be served by approving the postadoption contact and communication agreement.
  • The adoptive parent or parents and birth parent or parents have consented to a postadoption contact and communication agreement filed with the court.
  • The agency authorized to consent to the child's adoption and the child's guardian ad litem have recommended that the postadoption contact and communication agreement be approved as being in the best interests of the child, or, if there is no agency sponsoring the adoption, the agency that prepared the adoption report has been informed of the postadoption contact and communication agreement and has recommended in the agency's report to the circuit court that the postadoption contact and communication agreement be approved.
  • The adoptive child who is age 14 or older consents to the postadoption contact and communication agreement.

The circuit court shall not require execution of a postadoption contact and communication agreement as a condition for approving any adoption.

Unless otherwise stated in the final order of adoption, the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which the final order of adoption was entered shall retain jurisdiction to modify or enforce the terms of a postadoption contact and communication agreement.

Are agreements legally enforceable?

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1220.3; 63.2-1220.4

To be enforceable, any agreement under this section shall be approved by the circuit court and incorporated into the final order of adoption.

A birth parent or adoptive parent who has executed a postadoption contact and communication agreement may file a petition with the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which the final order of adoption was entered to compel a birth or adoptive parent to comply with the postadoption contact and communication agreement. The court may not award monetary damages as a result of the filing of a petition for compliance with the agreement.

Before the court hears a motion to compel compliance, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child's best interests.

The court may not award monetary damages as a result of the filing of a petition for modification of or compliance with the agreement.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1220.4

Unless otherwise stated in the final order of adoption, the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which the final order of adoption was entered shall retain jurisdiction to modify or enforce the terms of a postadoption contact and communication agreement.

A birth parent or parents or adoptive parent or parents who have executed a postadoption contact and communication agreement may file a petition with the court to modify the postadoption contact and communication agreement or compel a birth or adoptive parent to comply with the postadoption contact and communication agreement.

The court may not award monetary damages as a result of the filing of a petition for modification of the agreement. The court may modify the agreement at any time before or after the adoption if the court, after notice and opportunity to be heard by the birth parent or parents and the adoptive parent or parents, determines that the child's best interests require the modification of the agreement. Before the court modifies an agreement or hears a motion to compel compliance, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child's best interests.

The court shall not grant a request to modify the terms of a postadoption contact and communication agreement unless the moving party establishes that there has been a change of circumstances and the agreement is no longer in the child's best interests. No modification shall affect the irrevocability of the adoption.