2000 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare; Judiciary
By: Senator(s) Huggins
Senate Bill 2626
AN ACT TO CODIFY SECTION 93-17-32, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE CHANCERY COURT TO APPROVE A POST-ADOPTION CONTRACT BETWEEN THE ADOPTIVE PARENT(S) AND THE BIRTH PARENT(S) OF CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS VOLUNTARILY RELINQUISHED THEIR PARENTAL RIGHTS, WITH EXCEPTIONS, FOR POST-ADOPTION VISITS AND COMMUNICATION WITH THE ADOPTED CHILD; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following provision shall be codified as Section 93-17-32, Mississippi Code of 1972:
93-17-32. (1) The purpose of this section is to give to children who have been adopted in the State of Mississippi access to continuing contact with their birth parents and/or other entities as so set out within this section.
(2) If a child, adopted through a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of Mississippi, was removed from the home of his or her birth parent, or parents, due to any cause other than physical or sexual abuse of the child, the child's siblings, half-siblings or step-siblings, the court which terminated the birth parent's, or parents', parental rights in accordance with Section 93-15-103, or which granted an adoption in accordance with Section 93-17-3 et seq., pursuant to the birth parent's or parents', voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, may, at its discretion, approve a post-adoption contract between the adoptive parent, or parents, and the birth parent, or parents, or between the adoptive parent, or parents, and any relatives of the birth parent, or parents, or between the adoptive parent, or parents, and anyone with whom the adopted child lived prior to his adoption, including a foster parent, or parents, if the contract is determined by the court to be in the best interest of the adopted child. The contract may contain provisions for contact between the adoptive parent, or parents, and the entities with whom they contract, ranging from communication to visits with the adopted child. A post-adoption contract shall not be enforceable without the court's approval.
(3) The adoptive parent, or parents, shall not enter into a post-adoption contract with anyone who has been substantiated as a sexual or physical abuser by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, or the child protection agency of another state, or convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in any state of the sexual or physical abuse of any child, regardless of what legal designation the crime carries. The contract shall specifically exclude any contact whatsoever between the adopted child and any of the birth parent's, or parents', relatives who have been substantiated as sexual or physical abusers by the Department of Human Services, or by another state's child protective agency, or convicted of the sexual or physical abuse of any child.
(4) The contract shall be void, and the contract shall contain language mandating the voidance of the contract, upon breach of any of the conditions as set out in this section and/or if the entity with whom the adoptive parents contract are subsequently substantiated, or convicted, as sexual or physical abusers of a child. The contract may be voided if the relatives of the entities with whom the adoptive parent, or parents, contract commit physical and/or sexual abuse upon a child, and the contracting entity, or entities, knew, or should have known, of said abuse.
(5) The factors which the court shall consider prior to its approval of a post-adoption contract are:
(a) The distance between the residence of the adoptive parent, or parents, and the person or persons with whom they are contracting;
(b) The reasons that the child was removed from the home of the birth parent, or parents;
(c) The desire of the child to maintain contact with his or her birth parent, or parents, and their relatives. If the adopted child has reached his or her twelfth birthday, prior to the execution of the contract, unless the adopted child is under a disability other than that of minority of age, said child shall be a necessary party to the contract, and his or her wishes shall be considered in determining with whom the adoptive parent, or parents, will contract;
(d) The recommendations of a child psychologist, or other qualified mental health professional, appointed by the court to evaluate whether or not continued contact with the birth parent, or parents, or their relatives is in the best interest of the child;
(e) The willingness and the compatibility of the potential parties to said contract; and
(f) Any other criteria that the court deems necessary in order to make such a determination.
(6) The post-adoption contract shall be reviewed by the court when so requested by the adoptive parent, or parents, or the child or the entity with whom the adoptive parent, or parents, contract and shall be reviewed at the minimum of once every year until the child has reached his or her eighteenth birthday. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) to monitor the contract.
(7) The contract may be modified, or set aside, by any party to the contract, without penalty to any party. The existence of a contract, or the modification or the setting aside of said contract, shall have no impact upon the finality or the irrevocability of the adoption, including the right of the adopted child to inherit from and through his or her adopted parent, or parents, or of the adoptive parent, or parents, inheriting from and through the adopted child in accordance with Section 93-17-13. Nor does the entry of a post-adoption contract authorize the disclosure of adoption records sealed in accordance with Section 93-17-25.
(8) All costs associated with the entry, monitoring, and/or enforcement, of a post-adoption contract shall be assessed to, and borne by, the parties to the contract as set out in subsection (2) hereof.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2000.