Legal Insight
What’s new on the adoption front

Local attorney Noel E. Vargas Jr. has been a part of over 1,000 adoption placements and has assisted members of the Louisiana Legislature in the composition and passage of several adoption statutes. A member and fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, he currently is executive counsel for A.B.L. Adoptions Louisiana. In 2007, he was presented the Angels in Adoption Award by the U.S. Congress. Vargas discussed with us what’s new in international adoptions, adoption law, and how social media has changed the adoption landscape.

International adoption
A few years ago, The U.S. signed the Hague Adoption Convention, an international agreement followed by most of the civilized world designed to safeguard children’s rights in intercountry adoptions. Vargas says that now international adoptions have become very complicated with massive amounts of paperwork; he refers interested clients to a Hague-accredited associate through the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. Vargas has other concerns about international adoptions.

“When you go internationally, you don’t know what you’re getting as far as the background and medicals of a child. That’s especially true in the Eastern Bloc. And bureauocracy is another detriment. In countries like Guatemala they’re like, oh, well, we don’t want any more children to go out now, so they’ll suddenly just shut it down.”

 Changes in adoption law
Vargas tells of one “rather significant” change that a lot of judges and lawyers don’t know about: a post-placement agreement. This has been used in foster care adoptions with older children, but Vargas says now you can have a post-placement agreement for any adoption. He says that both parties have to agree to it and it has to be approved by a judge.

The social network
The most significant change in adoptions has occurred over the past year and a half, says Vargas, is Facebook. “It’s changed the entire landscape. More reunions are being made. If birthmothers and adoptive parents want to stay in touch, get a page. It’s right there. When we get profiles of adoptive couples for birthmoms, boom, they’re right there.”

 Adoption and assisted reproduction technology
Assisted reproduction has become part of the adoption landscape. When a surrogate carrying a couple's biological child delivers that child,she is considered by the State of Louisiana to be the biological mother. “In order for you to have legal rights to your biological child, you have to adopt," says Vargas. "Our technology laws have not caught up, and I don’t think they will for a very long time because we’re a conservative state. As a matter of fact, there’s a statute that makes surrogacy contracts illegal. If you enter a contract with a third party regarding a surrogacy agreement, that contract is uninforecable and if you pay any money, you’re throwing money over the Mississippi bridge.”

Adoption Resources

Adoption Services of Catholic Charities

Adoption Services (searchable website)

American Adoptions

International Adoptions/The Hague:

National Council for Adoption:


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