Does a Biological Parent of An Adoptive Child Have the Right of Continuing Contact and Visitation ?

In Matter of Gregory B. v. Gregory F. (74 NY2d 77), the Court of Appeals lamented the absence of legislative authority for so-called "open" adoptions in which the court could supplement an order of adoption with a provision directing that the adoptive child have continuing contact and visitation with members of his biological family (see, Matter of Anthony, 113 Misc 2d 26). In Matter of Alexandra C. (157 Misc 2d 262), the court construed Social Services Law 383-c to accord the biological parent of an adoptive child standing to petition the court for continuing contact with the child after the adoption where such privilege was explicitly reserved in the surrender. Although the record in that case indicated that the surrender was conditioned upon the reservation of visitation rights, the court was willing to accept the conditional surrender on the clear understanding that the right of visitation was always subject to the best interests of the child. Specifically, the court pointed out that it had advised the parties that, in accepting the surrender, the reservation of visitation rights "does not convey an automatic right to visitation, but confers standing on the biological parent's part to seek such visitation as in the child's best interests" (Matter of Alexandra C., supra, at 270). Furthermore, in Matter of Chaya S. v. Frederick Herbert L. (259 AD2d 620) the Court specifically upheld the right of a biological mother who consented to a private placement adoption to seek visitation rights with the infant in her status as biological mother as long as the overriding standard in enforcing such rights is the best interests of the child (see also, Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M., 77 NY2d 651; Matter of Ann M. C. v. Orange County Dept. of Social Servs., 250 AD2d 190, lv dismissed 93 NY2d 957).