Court Enforces Adoption Agency Contract Regarding Post-Adoption Reporting
In many adoption processes, prospective adoptive parents are asked to agree in advance to comply with post-adoption reporting requirements. This is especially true for intercountry adoptions, as many countries place significant importance on receiving updates regarding the children they place for adoption.
But what happens when a family chooses not to comply with their agreed upon post-adoption reporting? In the case of a family in Ohio who adopted from Taiwan through a California-based agency,* the court has determined that the family is in breach of the agreements the family made. In this case, the judge's ruling ordered and decreed that the family should, "…fully and completely comply in all respects with each and every obligation on them set forth in the Disclosures, Agreement, and Service Plan…".
Further, the judge ordered that the family pay for a portion of the agency's legal fees. While this was welcome news to the agency, when situations like this arise, neither the family nor the agency wins. Both sides had to engage legal counsel and both sides would have saved considerable time and cost had they reached an arrangement to complete these reports.
NCFA recognizes the importance of post-adoption reporting requirements as a means of apprising countries of the well-being of the children they placed for intercountry adoption. When families or agencies fail to meet post-adoption reporting requirements, it may result in countries having reluctance to place children for adoption in the future.
Legal action should be considered an absolute last resort for agencies, who have exhausted all their other options. Despite being a difficult and costly decision, agencies have an ethical obligation to the safety and well-being of the children placed for adoption as well as to fulfill the contractual agreements they've made with sending countries.
In this case, NCFA believes the court came to the right conclusion: Contracts specifying a commitment to complete post-adoption reports should be court-enforceable. When an agency or family gives their commitment to a foreign country, every effort should be made to ensure such promises are kept.
*Though the agency and family are named publically in court documents, NCFA is purposefully de-identifying this article to respect the privacy of those involved.