By Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire
In honor of National Adoption Month (November), I launched last month a ten part series on Adoptions in Pennsylvania. The eighth piece in this series focuses on the question: can the parties agree to allow contact between the child and the natural family? If you are interested in an adoption, I encourage you to please return and read my articles on adoptions.
Yes! But only if all parties are in agreement. 23 Pa.C.S. § 2731, et al. provides for “an option for adoptive parents and birth relatives to enter into a voluntary agreement for ongoing communications or contact that (1) is in the best interest of the child; (2) recognizes the parties’ interests and desires for ongoing communication or contact; (3) is appropriate given the role of the parties to the child’s life; and (4) is subject to approval by the courts.”
To gain court approval, the agreement must be entered into knowingly and voluntarily (demonstrated by a signed affidavit from each party) and be in the best interest of the child. To determine the best interest of the child, § 2735(b)(2) provides the following factors for the court to consider: (a) the length of time that the child has been under actual care, custody, and control of a person other than a birth parent and the circumstances relating thereto (think natural grandparent who cared for the child); (b) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with birth relatives and other persons who routinely interact with the birth relatives; (c) the adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community; (d) willingness and ability of the birth relative to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and prospective adoptive parent; (e) willingness and ability of the prospective adoptive parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the birth relative; and (f) any other relevant factor. This agreement cannot be entered into with the child’s consent if the child is at least 12 years old.
If you, a family member, friend, or coworker are considering an adoption, please call our office and setup a free initial consultation.