At JF&CS’s Family Hope Connection (FHC), we work tirelessly every day to build families through adoption. In the last two months, we celebrated four finalizations (the legal process that transfers parental rights to adoptive parents). Since we typically average 10 finalizations a year (of which two to three are usually international), this was an especially joyous occasion.
In one particular case, the relationship between the birth mother and adoptive parents began while the birth mother was pregnant with the baby. There were frequent discussions throughout the mother’s pregnancy about her dreams and wishes for her unborn child.
When she went into labor, the adoptive parents were welcomed and part of the delivery. They documented the birth with tons of pictures to begin an album for the new baby girl so that she would always know about her birth mother. They also have agreed to stay in touch and celebrate the child’s milestones together. While this degree of openness is not always the norm, changes in recent laws are aiming to make situations like this more commonplace.
In 2010 Pennsylvania’s Adoption Act was amended to address the requirements and enforceability of open adoptions in Pennsylvania. Prior to the amendment, adoptive and biological parents could make their own agreements. Under Act 101, the amount of openness of the adoption is spelled out in a Voluntary Post-Adoption Contact Agreement which is legally enforceable.
The Family Hope Connection’s recommendation is always a degree of openness that makes all parties involved comfortable. Our experience has shown that children thrive in an environment where they can feel the collaborative love of all the people in their life.
The best approach has always been to focus on the needs of the child and now the directive of these new laws is consistent with this approach. A large majority of our families enter into an open agreement willing by enthusiastically committing to send notes, updates and photos if not directly to the family then through the adoption agency. A smaller percentage of families have on-going face-to-face contact and visits with birth parents.
Regardless of the extent of the Agreement, the willingness of birth parents and adoptive parents working together is what ultimately results in the best outcome for the children involved. Thankfully, with the strides in adoption laws like Act 101 and the wisdom of history, the perception of adoption has changed and birth mothers are seen as planning for a child’s future instead of giving up a child.
At the Family Hope Connection, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive and confidential service to our clients. We are a non-profit, licensed adoption and foster care agency and accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), providing added assurance of the Family Hope Connection’s excellence in the delivery of adoption services. If you, or someone you know has questions about adoption or could benefit from our services, please contact us at 412-422-8567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.