It depends. There is no set rule regarding post adoption visitation rights, leaving courts to rely on their own state adoption laws.  Some states allow post adoption visitation for natural parents, as long as it promotes the best interests of the child.  On the other hand, some states don't allow post adoption visitation rights, arguing that it violates the adoptive parents' right to full legal custody.

What Factors May Allow Natural Parents to Have Post Adoption Visitation Rights?

Because specific post adoption visitation laws rarely exist, courts often look into a number of other factors when allowing or barring visitation:

  • Did the natural parents consent to the adoption?
  • Have the adoptive parents consented to visitation by the natural parents?
  • Was the adoption conditioned on post adoption visitation rights?
  • Relationship between the natural and adoptive parents
  • Would allowing visitation hinder the children's development with their adoptive parents?

When analyzing the above factors, a court will always considered what's in the best interest of the child.  So even if the adoptive parents consent to post adoption visitation, a court may invalidate this consent if it feels visitation may hinder the child's well being.

What Are the Options If I Want to Have Contact with My Child after Adoption?

There may be options available for a natural parent of an adopted child to have contact with their child after an adoption has been finalized. However, the options on the natural parent’s rights depend on the type of adoption. There are generally three types of adoption:

  • Confidential Adoption: Birth and adoptive parents never know each other; consequently adopted children never know their birth parents
  • Adoption with some openness: Some degree of contact can exist between birth parents and adopted children - this could include infrequent exchange of letters and pictures
  • Open adoption: the adopted child has the opportunity to develop a relationship with her birth parents

What if a Divorced Natural Parent is Seeking Post Adoption Visitation Rights?

Some states allow divorced natural parents post adoption visitation rights, if it serves the best interest of the child.  This situation usually occurs when one natural parent is not awarded custody of their children during a divorce decree, and the other custodial parent consequently puts the child up for adoption.  Courts in this case may allow visitation, arguing that the non-custodial natural parent never had say in the adoption process.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me?

If you are a natural parent looking to gain post adoption visitation rights to your child, you should contact a family law attorney to learn more about your legal options.  An experienced lawyer can fill you in on your state's current adoption laws, and indicate the likelihood of a successful visitation rights claim.