Entering into a contact agreement prior to an adoption finalizing can be quite emotional. In some cases adoptive parents (who may already have the children living with them) have felt pressured to sign the contact agreement that is presented to them without seeking legal counsel. Signing a contact agreement without seeking legal counsel can be a costly (emotionally and financially) mistake. It is my belief that the current contact agreement “form” that many lawyers use does not contemplate all of the issues that can occur as a result of a contact agreement. Minnesota law provides guidance to parties as to who can enter into such an agreement and how to make such an agreement enforceable, but it does not provide information as to how to make a contact agreement that is in the child’s best interests and that will continue to be in the child’s best interests as he or she grows up. Every case is different and every child is different. In some cases it works for there to be a very open-ended contact agreement. In other cases, it may be best for the child’s safety to have a stricter or more narrow contact agreement (or no contact agreement at all).
Like I said above, there is a contact agreement form that many Minnesota lawyers use. Although I think that this form is a good starting point, I have seen it presented in “as is” form to adoptive parents and the adoptive parents have felt pressured to sign it “as is” when had they been given an opportunity to discuss the agreement with an attorney, changes could have been made that would have been beneficial to all.
Elizabeth Rosar Chermack is a Minnesota Adoption Attorney, with an office in Burnsville, and can represent you in reviewing your adoption contact agreement. Call (952) 491-0390 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with Liz.
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