A contact agreement is one of the many documents you will need to complete when going through the adoption process. This document details the exact nature of the future relationship between your child and the birth mom.
Though a Catholic open adoption is one that is founded on faith and love, it must still be managed as a technical and legal process. Your adoption attorney or adoption agency will recommend that you draw up a contact agreement. It is likely that they already have forms for you to complete to help guide your way. These forms will ask questions of you, such as how much contact you expect your child to have with the birth mother, what type of relationship they will have and any other specifics that may be necessary.
Get it in Writing
A birth mother may already have an idea of how often she wishes to see the child. It is possible that she chose you as the adoptive parents because your interpretation of open adoption is similar to hers. Perhaps you have discussed the matter and believe it doesn’t need to be placed in writing. However, there is always the chance that your discussion was not as thorough as you thought. The birth mother may have said that she wanted to have monthly contact with the child. You might have thought she meant telephone calls or emails. She may have meant one-on-one meetings. Without having the frequency and type of contact in writing, there is a chance for error. At best, that could lead to hurt feelings. At worst, you may be facing a law suit.
One of the most difficult areas to navigate in a Catholic adoption is a birthday or holiday celebration. Some adoptive parents may be open to having birth parents celebrate along with the family. Others may feel this is inappropriate. If this is not in writing, the birth mother may believe that she has a right to spend important days with the child.
It is extremely important to be specific about the location and length of visits. Stating that a birth mom can visit the four times each year is only a starting point. Will she be able to spend an entire weekend with the child or only a couple of hours? Will the visit take place in your home or at a public location? These are terms you should decide together well before the adoption is complete.
Fearing a Change of Heart
Some adoptive families agree to terms with which they are not comfortable out of fear that the birth mother will change her mind and choose a different family. These are thoughts that should not be entertained. A birth mother has the right to pick a family who meets the needs she desires for herself and the child. You have the right to build the family that you believe will function in the best manner.
It is very rare for a birth mom to change her mind once she has chosen the right Catholic family to adopt and raise her child. She chose you because you have a strong faith, a caring relationship and you represent what she most wants for the baby. If she wants more contact than you are comfortable with, make sure to talk it over. Build a healthy relationship with her. Eventually, you will find a compromise that works well for everyone.