Post Adoption Contact Agreements

Post Adoption Contact Agreements

A Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) is an agreement which is signed at the same time the adoption relinquishment or consent is signed. It allows for certain, specified contact between the signing birth parent(s) and the adoptive family. Some states will enforce such agreements so long as they serve the best interest of the adoptee while other states either prohibit or do not enforce them under any circumstances.

There is no single format for a PACA nor is there a minimal or maximum requirement of the level or type of contact present in a PACA. Some PACAs require adoptive parents to provide a birth parent with pictures at specified times and written updates about the child’s developments. Other PACAs may also allow for a visitation by the birth parent with the child present. PACAs often provide for pictures and written updates on a monthly basis for the first year, the frequence of which would then decrease over time. Visitation is more commonly requested in cases involving the adoption of an older child than of a newborn.

Sometimes birth parents will permit an adoption to go forward only if a PACA is included in the adoption plan. This should not be viewed by the adoptive parents as a sign of reluctance by the birth parents or an indication that they may change their minds later about the adoption. Rather, birth parents’ requests for a PACA are usually just a reflection of their desire to obtain confirmation that their decision to place their child in a loving home for adoption was a good one.

While laws regarding PACAs will vary from state to state, the breach of a PACA will never be grounds to set aside a consent or relinquishment for adoption or a decree of adoption. However, courts are often permitted to fashion other relief to correct the failure of a party to comply with a PACA. While most state statutes do not allow a court to increase the agreed upon contact, many states that allow PACAs will permit a court to reduce or eliminate specified contact upon a finding of the best interests of the child.

You should ask a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys whether your state permits PACAs and, if so obtain help in drafting an agreement that works for your family.  For more information on PACA's, click here and for a recent article written by an Academy Fellow, click here.