On March 21, the Superior Court issued its first decision regarding enforcement of Post Adoption Contact Agreements (“PACAs”), In re Adoption of B.G.W.
The case involved a private infant adoption.
Through a PACA, the birth and adoptive parents agreed that the child’s birth mother (“BM”) would have at least three visits per year with the child, for at least 2 hours each visit. At the first visit, the child’s adoptive father (“AF”) ignored BM, and refused to allow BM to hold or physically interact with the child. BM wrote a letter to the court, in which she asked the court to help her enforce her right to visit and interact with the child. BM also asked the court to direct AF not to attend future visits or to require a third party to attend visits.
At hearing, AF stated that he was afraid to allow BM to hold or interact with the child. He did not provide any specific safety concerns. The trial court issued an order that required the adoptive parents to allow physical contact between BM and the child, and also required third party supervision of the next visit.
On appeal, the adoptive parents claimed that the order was an improper revision to the PACA.
The opportunity for birth and adoptive families to establish an agreement for post-adoption contacted was formalized in Pennsylvania law in 2011. Under that law, the parties can seek court approval of a PACA. Thereafter, any party can seek to enforce the agreement. However, only adoptive parents or children over the age of 12 can seek to modify a PACA.
The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. The analysis appeared to center on AF’s behavior at the visit, and a determination that a “visit” implicitly allows physical contact between a parent and child.
heARTbeat is a publication of KingSpry’s Adoption Law and Assisted Reproductive Technology Law Practice Group. It is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.