Brooklyn Defenders Urges Governor Hochul to Sign the Preserving Family Bonds Act

December 21, 2021

Contact: Daniel Ball,

***For Immediate Release***

Brooklyn Defenders Urges Governor Hochul to Sign the Preserving Family Bonds Act

Legislation to Allow for Open Adoptions from Foster System Delivered to Governor

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Lauren Shapiro, Managing Director of the Family Defense Practice at Brooklyn Defender Services, released the following statement urging Governor Hochul to immediately sign the Preserving Family Bonds Act (A6700/S6357 - Joyner/Savino) after the bill was delivered to the Governor:

“As attorneys who have worked with thousands of families involved in the foster system, we have seen far too many times the trauma wrought on children and families when familial bonds are permanently severed and all contact is lost. With the passage of the Preserving Family Bonds Act, the New York State legislature has taken action to recognize the importance of open adoptions and the benefit of continuing family ties for children who are adopted from the foster system. Post-termination contact allows a child to retain a vital relationship with their birth parent and permits that parent to play a positive role in the child’s life, even if the court has terminated their legal rights to the child. If enacted, the Preserving Family Bonds Act would ensure that children would be able to contact or visit with their birth families, when a court decides it is in their best interest.

We are grateful to Assemblymember Latoya Joyner and Senator Diane Savino for championing this legislation and to the many families and advocates statewide who spent years seeking this much-needed change in the law. Now that the legislation is on her desk, we urge Governor Hochul to immediately sign the bill into law.”

Last week, a broad coalition of legal services providers and non-profit organizations that work with foster system-involved children and families sent a letter urging Governor Kathy Hochul to sign The Preserving Family Bonds Act. The legislation provides Family Court judges with discretion to order continued visitation and/or contact between children and their families of origin after a parent’s rights are terminated, and recognizes the value that post-termination contact has for many children and their families of origin.

Although the Act was vetoed by Governor Cuomo in 2019, the bill language passed by the Legislature this year addresses the concerns raised by Governor Cuomo in his veto message.

The current law in New York allows open adoption and post-termination contact when parents voluntarily surrender their parental rights, but deprives courts of the authority to allow for contact between children and their biological parents after a parent’s rights have been involuntarily terminated.

Most children placed in foster care have significant ties to their biological families. Even some children who enter foster care at birth and are ultimately adopted will have had regular contact with their biological families for a lengthy time period, even years, and developed strong bonds with them prior to termination of parental rights.

A growing body of research shows that retaining contact with biological family members may be in the child’s best interest. Even when a biological parent is unable to care for their child, post-termination contact allows the child to retain a relationship with his or her family, and allows a biological parent to play a positive role in the child’s life. It can help a child develop a more secure sense of self by offering them the ability to better understand their biological family and what led to the termination of their legal relationship.

The Preserving Family Bonds Act will allow New York law to better address the complex realities and needs of families involved in the foster care system, by allowing family court judges to fashion dispositional orders in termination of parental rights proceedings that meet the needs and best interests of children.


Latest News