Proposal to create enforceable open adoption agreements stirs legislative debate

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5 2013 8:10 p.m. MST

Hillyard said one of his aims in sponsoring the legislation is to help children achieve permanency with adopted families. He said he believes if birth parents — and possibly grandparents — could have some reasonable expectation of visits or information about the child, birth parents may be less hesitant to relinquish their parental rights.

Whatever form the legislation takes, Swim said the "first consideration has to be the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child must be at the center of all of this."

The Utah Council for Ethical Adoption voted Tuesday to support the legislation. Council president Wes Hutchins, an adoption attorney, said enforceable agreements would help birth parents who have been defrauded by "desperate adoptive parents willing to promise to do anything to get a child in their homes."

Hutchins said the agreements, which are not legally enforceable in Utah, end up being "bait and switch."

Millgate said the family's ongoing relationship with their youngest son's birth mother has helped adjust to her decision to place her baby for adoption. While Krishna didn't agonize over the decision, "it was harder than she would have imagined," Millgate said.

Having an ongoing relationship with the Millgates has helped her process those emotions. Millgate said the relationship honors the birth mother for her part in bringing together their family, which also includes two sons the couple adopted through the state foster care system.

Hutchins, who handled the Millgates' adoption of Logan, said the family has a goodwill agreement with the birth mother. While not legally enforceable, both parties have honored the arrangement.

Among their three sons, the Millgates have no contact with one birth mother, limited contact with another and regular contact with Logan's mother.

"The one that's open is the easiest, no question. We trust her; she trusts us. We can talk about anything that comes up," Millgate said.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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