** This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.
A post-adoption contact and communication agreement, commonly referred to as PACA, is a contract between the birth parents and adoptive parents that details communication between the adoptive family and members of the birth family after the adoption. Specifically, in Virginia, a PACAs is called a post-adoption contact and communication agreement, while in other states it is referred to as post-adoption contact agreement. An adoptive child can also be a party to the PACA. Depending on the jurisdiction, PACAs can range from informal agreements to written, formal “moral” contracts.
When considering whether to have a PACA, remember:
PACAs are NOT custody agreements. We cannot stress this enough. PACAs are not an attempt at coparenting between the adoptive and birth parents. PACAs are a means to maintain contact through photos, letters, or visits (in-person, telephone, video, etc.).
In most states, PACAs are not legally enforceable. However, in Virginia, if a party breaches the terms of the PACA the aggrieved party may pursue legal action to enforce the agreement.
PACAs sometimes are discontinued with no explanation. Ultimately, the PACA is only as good as the parties who abide by it.
PACAs should not be a detailed list of future commitments between parties, as it is very likely that over time the level of contact desired may change. The terms in the PACA should not stress you out or be overly burdensome. You do not want to be responsible for too many updates or visits, etc. Consider the minimum you are willing to commit to and, if you choose, over-deliver in adhering to the terms in the PACA.
Why even have a PACA? Open lines of communication for all parties can be extremely beneficial to the relationship between the parties. Adopted children can have attachments to one or more birth relatives with whom ongoing future contact can be beneficial. Also, communication with the birth parent(s) can be a great resource to find out more information on the child’s medical history or the disclosure of future medical issues.
If you have any questions about PACAs, family expansion, adoption, or anything infertility-wise, we at ThompsonMcMullan are here for you.
This blog is the product of a collaborative effort by Attorney Sherry Fox, Attorney Frances Caruso, and Mollie Schwam, Certified Paralegal.