Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, May 17, 2010

Appell: “Reflections on the Movement Toward a More Child-Centered Adoption”

Annette Ruth Appell (Washington University School of Law in St. Louis) has posted Reflections on the Movement Toward a More Child-Centered Adoption, Western New England Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Article reflects on a quiet sea change in adoption over the past two decades. This movement is reflected in the increasingly normative practice and regulation of post-adoption contact among adopted children and their birth kin. Although the regulatory movement in the U.S. has been toward privately ordering, but publicly protecting, these relationships, the U.K. publicly orders and protects these relationships, at least in adoptions from foster care. This Article assesses the development and propriety of these two regulatory approaches. After rehearsing the current state of statutory and judicial post-adoption contact regulation, the Article presents a brief overview of pertinent studies of post-adoption contact here and in the U.K. under its court-imposed post-adoption contact scheme. Paying special attention to the regulation of birth ties post-termination and adoption in Massachusetts, which has two different regulatory schemes for post-adoption contact, this Article suggests that the Massachusetts courts undervalue the wisdom and authority of the birth and adoptive parents to order their relationship after adoption. The Article recognizes that the Massachusetts approach is consistent with adoption studies which illustrate that adoptive families, regardless of whether they are privately or publicly regulated, are dynamic, collaborative, porous, and rich collectives centering around the child’s interests. The Article contains a table comparing U.S. adoption with contact statutes.


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