Vermont

Adoption Laws

Notice: The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-401

In a direct placement of a minor for adoption by a parent or guardian, a petition to adopt the minor may be granted only when consent to the adoption has been executed by:

  • The woman who gave birth to the minor
  • The biological father identified by the mother or as otherwise known to the court
  • A man who is or has been married to the woman if the minor was born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage was terminated or a court issued a decree of separation
  • A man who meets all of the following conditions:
    • Was not married to the minor’s mother at the time of the child’s birth
    • Has acknowledged his paternity of the minor by executing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or has filed a notice to retain parental rights
    • Has demonstrated a commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood by establishing a custodial, personal, or financial relationship with the child, unless he was prevented from demonstrating such commitment or was unable to demonstrate such commitment
  • The minor’s guardian if expressly authorized by a court to consent to the minor’s adoption
  • The current adoptive or other legally recognized mother and father of the minor

In a placement of a minor for adoption by an agency authorized to place the minor, a petition to adopt the minor may be granted only if consent to the adoption has been executed by:

  • The agency that placed the minor for adoption
  • A person described above who has not relinquished the minor or had his or her parental rights terminated

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-401

Unless the court dispenses with the minor’s consent, a petition to adopt a minor who has attained 14 years of age may be granted only if, in addition to any consent required above, the minor has executed an informed consent to the adoption.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-402

Consent to an adoption of a minor is not required of:

  • A person who has relinquished parental rights or guardianship powers, including the right to consent to adoption, to an agency
  • A person whose parental relationship to the minor has been judicially terminated or determined not to exist
  • A man who has not been married to the woman who gave birth to the minor and who, after the conception of the minor, executes a notarized statement denying paternity or disclaiming any interest in the minor and acknowledging that his statement is irrevocable when executed
  • The personal representative of a deceased parent’s estate
  • A parent or other person who has not executed a consent or a relinquishment and who fails to file an answer or make an appearance in a proceeding for adoption or for termination of a parental relationship within the requisite time after service of notice of the proceeding

The court may dispense with the consent of:

  • A guardian or an agency whose consent is otherwise required upon a finding that the consent is being withheld unreasonably, contrary to the best interests of a minor adopted person
  • A minor who is age 14 or older upon a finding that it is not in the best interests of the minor to require the consent

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-404

A parent whose consent to the adoption is required may not execute a consent or a relinquishment sooner than 36 hours after the minor is born.

A guardian may execute a consent to the adoption of a minor or a relinquishment at any time after being authorized by a court to do so.

An agency that places a minor for adoption may execute its consent at any time before or during the hearing on the petition for adoption.

A minor whose consent is required may execute a consent at any time at or before the hearing on the petition for adoption.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 2-404; 2-405

Before executing a consent, a parent shall have been informed of the meaning and consequences of adoption, the availability of personal and legal counseling, the consequences of misidentifying the other parent, the procedure for releasing information about the health and other characteristics of the parent that may affect the physical or psychological well-being of the child, and the procedure for the release of the parent’s identity.

A consent executed by a parent or guardian shall be signed in the presence of:

  • A judge of a court that has jurisdiction over adoption proceedings in this or in any other State
  • A person appointed by a probate judge to take consents
  • A commissioned officer on active duty in the military if the person executing the consent is in military service
  • An officer of the foreign service or a consular officer of the United States in another country if the person executing the consent is in that country

A consent executed by a minor person to be adopted shall be signed in the presence of the judge before whom the proceeding is pending. A parent who is a minor is competent to execute consent if the parent has had the advice of an attorney who is not representing an adoptive parent or the agency to which the parent’s child is relinquished. The attorney shall be present when the consent is executed.

A prospective adoptive parent named or described in a consent to the adoption of a child shall sign a statement indicating an intention to adopt the child, acknowledging an obligation to return legal and physical custody of the child to the child’s parent if the parent revokes the consent within the time specified in § 2-404(a), and acknowledging responsibility for the minor’s support and medical and other care if the consent is not revoked.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 2-407; 2-408; 2-409

Except as specified below, a consent to adoption that is executed by a parent or guardian is final and irrevocable 21 days after execution.

In a direct placement of a minor for adoption by a parent or guardian, and before the adoption is finalized, a consent is revoked if:

  • Within 21 days after the consent is executed, the parent who executed the consent notifies the court in writing that he or she revokes the consent.
  • The person who executed the consent and the prospective adoptive parent agree to its revocation.

In a direct placement by a parent or guardian, the court shall set aside the consent if the person who executed the consent establishes:

  • By clear and convincing evidence, before a decree of adoption is issued, that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress
  • By a preponderance of the evidence before a decree of adoption is issued that, without good cause shown, a petition to adopt was not filed within 45 days after the minor was placed for adoption, unless the 45-day period was extended by the court, in which event the petition to adopt was not filed within the extended period set by the court
  • By a preponderance of the evidence, that a condition permitting revocation has occurred

A relinquishment is revoked if:

The court shall set aside a relinquishment if the person who executed the relinquishment establishes:

  • By clear and convincing evidence, before a decree of adoption is issued, that the relinquishment was obtained by fraud or duress
  • By a preponderance of the evidence that a condition permitting revocation has occurred

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 309; Code of Vt. Rules § 13-162-007

For prospective foster parents, the commissioner may obtain from the Vermont Criminal Information Center the record of convictions of that person. The commissioner shall first notify the person whose record is being requested.

The owner or operator of a facility licensed or registered by the department may ask the commissioner for the record of convictions and the record of substantiated reports of child abuse of a current employee or a person to whom the owner or operator has given a conditional offer of employment.

In regulation:The State licensing authority may require any person in the household or any person who provides care and supervision to foster children on a regular basis, whether or not that person is an applicant or licensee, to submit references and to provide such other information as the State licensing authority may deem necessary. A license may be denied if a foster parent or any member of the household:

  • Has been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense
  • Has current, unresolved problems with alcohol or other chemicals
  • Has abused or neglected a child

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 1-113; 2-203

The commissioner of the Department for Children and Families Services or any judge of the probate division of the superior court shall obtain from the Vermont Criminal Information Center the record of Vermont convictions and pending criminal charges for any person being evaluated as an adoptive parent.

The commissioner or probate judge, through the Vermont Criminal Information Center, shall request the record of convictions and pending criminal charges of the appropriate criminal repositories in all States in which there is reason to believe the applicant has resided or been employed.

If no disqualifying record is identified at the State level, the commissioner or probate judge, through the Vermont Criminal Information Center, shall request a fingerprint-based national criminal history record check from the FBI.

A preplacement evaluation shall include whether the person being evaluated has been:

  • Subject to an abuse prevention order
  • Charged with or convicted of domestic assault
  • The subject of a substantiated complaint filed with the department
  • Subject to a court order restricting the person's right to parental rights and responsibilities or parent-child contact with a child

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 3-504

If any one of the following grounds exists, the court shall order the termination of parental rights:

  • In the case of a child under the age of 6 months, the parent did not exercise parental responsibility once he or she knew or should have known of the child’s birth or expected birth. In making a determination under this subdivision, the court shall consider all relevant factors, which may include the respondent’s failure to:
    • Pay reasonable prenatal, natal, and postnatal expenses in accordance with his or her financial means
    • Make reasonable and consistent payments, in accordance with his or her financial means, for the support of the child
    • Regularly communicate or visit with the minor
    • Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor
  • In the case of a child over the age of 6 months at the time the petition is filed, the respondent did not exercise parental responsibility for a period of at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition. In making a determination under this subdivision, the court shall consider all relevant factors, which may include the respondent’s failure to:
    • Make reasonable and consistent payments, in accordance with his or her financial means, for the support of the child, although legally obligated to do so
    • Regularly communicate or visit with the minor
    • During any time the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent, to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor
  • The respondent has been convicted of a crime of violence or has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have committed an act of violence that violated a restraining or protective order, and the facts of the crime or violation indicate that the respondent is unfit to maintain a relationship of parent and child with the minor.
  • An alleged father has failed to establish paternity.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 3-504

If the respondent has proved by a preponderance of evidence that he or she had good cause for not complying with the support and care provisions above or that, for compelling reasons, termination due to conviction of a crime is not justified, the court may not terminate the respondent’s parental rights to a minor except upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that any one of the grounds [for termination] exists and that termination is in the best interests of the minor.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Code of Rules § 13-162-005

The study must include all family members.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-202

A preplacement evaluation may be prepared only by a person who is qualified by the department to make the evaluation or who meets the qualifications of an evaluator and is appointed by the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Code of Rules § 13-162-005

The prospective adoptive family must be able to meet the child’s needs.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-203

A preplacement evaluation shall be based upon a personal interview and visit at the residence of the person being evaluated and personal interviews or correspondence with others who know the person and may have information relevant to the evaluation.

A preplacement evaluation shall contain the following information:

  • Age, nationality, racial or ethnic background, and any religious affiliation
  • Marital status and family history, including the age and location of any children and the identity of and relationship to anyone else living in the household
  • Parenting experience
  • Physical and mental health, and any history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Education and employment history
  • Property, income, and outstanding financial obligations
  • Any previous requests for an evaluation or involvement in an adoptive placement and the outcome of the evaluation or placement
  • Whether the person has been subject to an abuse prevention order, charged with or convicted of domestic assault, the subject of a substantiated complaint filed with the department, or subject to a court order restricting the person’s right to parental rights and responsibilities or parent-child contact with a child
  • Whether the person has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation
  • Whether the person has located a parent interested in placing a child with the person for adoption and, if so, a brief description of the parent and the minor
  • The reason for and attitude about adoption
  • Whether the person is in noncompliance with a child support order
  • Any other fact or circumstance that may be relevant in determining whether the person is suited to be an adoptive parent, including the quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of other children in the household

The applicant shall submit to fingerprinting and sign a release permitting a criminal background check.

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-204

If an evaluator determines that the information assessed raises a concern that placement of any minor, or a particular minor, in the home of the person would pose a risk of harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the minor, the evaluator, on the basis of the original or any further investigation, shall find that the person is or is not suited to be an adoptive parent. The evaluator shall support the finding with a written explanation.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-201

Except for placements with a relative or a stepparent, a person must have a favorable written preplacement evaluation before receiving a child for adoption. An evaluation is valid if it was completed or updated within the 12 months preceding the placement of the child with the person.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 3-601 through 3-603

No later than 5 days after an adoption petition is filed, the court shall order that an evaluation be made of the placement. The evaluation shall be based on a personal interview with the petitioner in his or her residence and observation of the relationship between the child being adopted and the petitioner.

The evaluation shall be in writing and contain:

  • An account of any change in the petitioner’s marital status or family history, physical or mental health, home environment, property, income, or financial obligations since the filing of the preplacement evaluation
  • All reasonably available information concerning the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the adoptive child that is not included in any report on the minor’s health, genetic, and social history filed in the proceeding for adoption
  • Copies of any court order, judgment, decree, or pending legal proceeding affecting the adoptive child, the petitioner, or any child of the petitioner
  • Any behavior or characteristics of the petitioner that raise a concern
  • A recommendation concerning the granting of the petition for adoption

The evaluator shall complete a written evaluation and file it with the court within 60 days after receipt of the court’s order unless the court for good cause allows a later filing. If an evaluation produces a concern, the evaluation shall be filed immediately, and shall explain why the concern poses a risk of harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the child.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 2-201; 4-110

A preplacement evaluation is not required if a parent or guardian places a child for adoption directly with a relative of the child, but an evaluation of the relative is required during the pendency of a proceeding for adoption.

After a petition for adoption of a minor stepchild is filed, the court may order that an evaluation be made by a qualified evaluator to assist the court in determining whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child. Unless otherwise directed by the court, an evaluator shall base the evaluation on a personal interview with the petitioner and the petitioner’s spouse in the petitioner’s residence, observation of the relationship between the child and the petitioner, a personal interview with others who know the petitioner and may have information relevant to the examination.

An evaluation shall be in writing and contain the following:

  • The information required by § 2-203(d) and (e), concerning any background of criminal conviction and/or child maltreatment
  • The information required by § 3-602(b)(2) through (5), including the child’s health and social history

If the court does not order an evaluation, the preference of the minor who is younger than age 14 shall be taken into consideration, if the minor is mature enough to express a preference.

Whether or not an evaluation is ordered, the court shall obtain the petitioner’s background information, as required by § 2-203(d)(7)-(9).

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-106

An adoption in this State of a minor brought into this State from another State by a prospective adoptive parent, or by a person who places the minor for adoption in this State, is governed by the laws of this State, including this title and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

A child who is no more than 30 days old may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

A person may legally relinquish an infant under this section.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

The child may be delivered to:

  • An employee, staff member, or volunteer at a health-care facility
  • An employee, staff member, or volunteer at a fire station, police station, place of worship, or an entity that is licensed or authorized in this State to place minors for adoption
  • A 911 emergency responder at a location where the responder and the person have agreed to transfer the child

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

A person or facility to whom a child is delivered shall:

  • Take temporary custody of the child and ensure that he or she receives any necessary medical care
  • Provide notice to a law enforcement agency that the person or facility has taken temporary custody of the child
  • Provide notice to the Department for Children and Families that the person or facility has taken temporary custody of the child

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

A person or facility to whom a child is delivered shall be immune from civil or criminal liability for any action taken.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

A person who abandons or exposes a child under the age of 2 years whereby the life or health of such child is endangered shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years or fined not more than $10,000, or both. It is not a violation of this section if a person voluntarily delivers a child not more than 30 days of age to a safe haven.

A person voluntarily delivering a child under this subsection shall not be required to reveal any personally identifiable information but may be offered the opportunity to provide information concerning the child’s or family’s medical history.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 13, § 1303

Upon receiving notice that a child has been relinquished, the Department for Children and Families shall take custody of the child as soon as practicable.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 7-103(a)

An adoptive parent, or a person acting on behalf of an adoptive parent, may pay the reasonable and actual fee or charge for:

  • Medical, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical, or other similar expenses incurred by a mother or her minor child in connection with prenatal care or the birth or any illness of the minor
  • Counseling services for a parent or a minor for a reasonable time before and after the minor’s placement for adoption
  • Living expenses of a birth mother for a reasonable time before and after the birth of her child
  • Expenses incurred in ascertaining the social and medical history of the child, as required by § 2-105 of this title
  • Any legal services performed for a parent who consents to the adoption of a minor or relinquishes the minor to an agency
  • Transportation for services provided
  • Any other service or expense the court finds reasonable and necessary

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 7-103(a)(4)

Payments for living expenses may continue for no more than 6 weeks after the child’s birth.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15-A, § 7-105

Except as otherwise provided in §§ 7-103 and 7-104 of this title, a person may not pay, give, or offer to pay or give to any other person or request, receive, or accept any money or anything of value, directly or indirectly, for:

  • The placement of a minor for adoption
  • The consent of a parent, guardian, or agency to the adoption of a minor
  • The relinquishment of a minor to an agency for the purpose of adoption
  • The recruitment of a nonresident pregnant woman to locate in this State for the purpose of relinquishing a child for adoption

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 7-103(b)-(c)

A birth parent or a provider of a service listed above may receive or accept a payment authorized by this section. The payment may not be made contingent on the placement of a minor for adoption, relinquishment of the minor, or consent to the adoption. If the adoption is not completed, a person who is authorized to make a specific payment is not liable for that payment unless the person has agreed in a signed writing with a provider of a service to make the payment regardless of the outcome of the proceeding for adoption. If the adoption is not completed, an adoptive parent is liable only for agreed-upon expenses that are permitted under this section and were incurred prior to the termination of the adoption process.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15-A, § 7-104

An agency may charge or accept a fee or other reasonable compensation from a prospective adoptive parent for expenses not paid by public assistance for:

  • Medical, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical, or other similar expenses incurred by a mother or her minor child in connection with prenatal care, the birth, or any illness of the minor
  • A percentage of the annual cost the agency incurs in locating and providing counseling services for minor adopted persons, parents, and prospective parents
  • Living expenses of a mother for a reasonable time before the birth of a child and for no more than 6 weeks after the birth
  • Expenses incurred in obtaining the health and social history of the child
  • Legal services, court costs, or other administrative expenses connected with an adoption, including the legal services performed for a birth parent
  • Preparation of a preplacement evaluation and an evaluation during the proceeding for adoption
  • Transportation for services provided
  • Any other service or expense the court finds is reasonable and necessary

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15-A, § 3-702

At least 10 days before the hearing:

  • The petitioners shall file an accounting of any payment or disbursement made or agreed to be made.
  • The attorney for the petitioners shall file an affidavit itemizing any fees accepted for adoption-related services.
  • If an agency or guardian placed the child for adoption, the agency or guardian shall file an affidavit itemizing all fees and expenses paid.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Stat. tit. 15A, § 1-101

A ‘parent’ is a person who is legally recognized as a mother or father or whose consent to the adoption of a minor is required under § 2-401(a)(1)-(4) or (6) of this title. The term does not include a person whose parental relationship to a child has been terminated judicially or by operation of law.

Paternity Registry

No

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Stat. tit. 15A, §§ 3-503; 3-403; tit. 15B, § 701

A petition to terminate under this part and a notice of hearing on the petition shall be served upon the parent or alleged parent who has not consented to the adoption or whose parental rights have not been terminated.

If the respondent fails to respond within 20 days after service and, in the case of an alleged father, fails to file a claim of paternity within 20 days after service, and unless a claim of paternity is pending, the respondent may not appear in or receive further notice of the proceeding for adoption or termination.

A tribunal of this State may serve as an initiating or responding tribunal in a proceeding to determine that the petitioner is a parent of a particular child or to determine that a respondent is a parent of that child.

Required Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Access to Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 2-102(a)-(d); 2-105(c); 7-105(a)

A parent or guardian authorized to place a minor for adoption may place the minor only with a prospective adoptive parent who has a valid favorable preplacement evaluation or for whom a preplacement evaluation is not required. The parent or guardian shall personally select a prospective adoptive parent.

A parent or guardian may be assisted by another person in locating a prospective adoptive parent. A prospective adoptive parent may be assisted by another person in locating a minor who is available for adoption.

Vermont recognizes that there may be a certified placement intermediary involved in the adoption process: The department shall prescribe forms designed to obtain specific information about the minor and the minor’s family and shall provide these forms to any agency, attorney, or certified placement intermediary.

Except as otherwise provided, a person may not pay or give, or offer to pay or give, to any other person or request, receive, or accept any money or anything of value, directly or indirectly, for:

  • The placement of a minor for adoption
  • The consent of a parent, a guardian, or an agency to the adoption of a minor
  • The relinquishment of a minor to an agency for the purpose of adoption
  • The recruitment of nonresident pregnant women to locate in this State for the purpose of relinquishing the child for adoption

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 1-102

The following persons may adopt:

  • Any person
  • A parent’s partner

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 1-102

Any person may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-101

Only the following may place a child for adoption:

  • The parent having legal and physical custody
  • A guardian who has been expressly authorized to place the child for adoption
  • An agency to which the child has been relinquished
  • An agency expressly authorized to place the minor for adoption by a court order

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 6-104; 6-105

Nonidentifying information is available to:

  • The adoptive parent or legal guardian of an adopted person
  • The adopted person who is age 18 or older or has been emancipated
  • A deceased adopted person’s direct descendant who is age 18 or older, or a parent or guardian of a descendant who is under age 18
  • The adopted person’s birth parent, grandparent, or sibling

Identifying information may be disclosed to:

  • An adopted person who is age 18 or older or has been emancipated
  • A deceased adopted person’s direct descendant who is age 18 or older or the parent or guardian of a direct descendant who is younger than age 18
  • The birth parent
  • A birth sibling who is age 18 or older

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 6-104; 2-105

Any person listed above may request a detailed summary of any relevant report about the adopted person, the birth parents, and the adopted person’s genetic history, including the information required by § 2-105 of this title. This report shall exclude identifying information concerning an individual who has not signed a waiver of confidentiality. The report shall include all of the following nonidentifying information that is reasonably available:

  • A social and health history of the child
  • Any physical, sexual, or emotional abuse known to have been suffered by the child
  • Enrollment and performance in school, results of educational testing, and any special educational needs
  • An account of the child’s past and existing relationships with any relative, foster parent, or other persons
  • A social and health history of the minor’s parents and extended family, including:
    • Health and genetic history, including any known hereditary condition or disease
    • Racial, ethnic, and religious background and general physical description
    • Educational, vocational, athletic, artistic, or scientific achievement or interests
    • The existence of any other child of the parents

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 6-105; 6-106

For adoptions finalized prior to July 1, 1986, the registry shall disclose identifying information if the birth parent has filed any kind of document that clearly indicates that he or she consents to such disclosure.

For adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 1986, the registry shall disclose identifying information without requiring the consent of the birth parent unless the birth parent has filed a request for nondisclosure in accordance with the provisions of § 6-106 of this title and has not withdrawn the request.

Identifying information about the adopted person shall be disclosed to the birth parent if the adoptive parent of the adopted person who is younger than age 18 consents to the disclosure. Identifying information about a deceased adopted person shall be disclosed to the birth parent or sibling upon request if the deceased adopted person’s direct descendant is age 18 or older and consents to the disclosure; or the parent or guardian of a direct descendant who is younger than age 18 consents to the disclosure. Identifying information about a birth sibling shall be disclosed to the adopted person upon request if both the sibling and the adopted person are age 18 or older and the sibling consents to disclosure.

A birth parent may prevent disclosure of identifying information by filing a request for nondisclosure with the registry. A request for nondisclosure may be withdrawn by a birth parent at any time.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 6-107

The original birth certificate may be released upon request to an adopted person who is age 18 or older and who has access to identifying information.

The original birth certificate is unsealed and becomes public record 99 years after the date of the adopted person’s birth.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Vermont Adoption Registry, Department for Children and Families

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 1-105 4-102

All parental rights and duties of the former parent of the adopted person terminate, including the right of inheritance and intestate succession from or through the adopted person, upon final decree of adoption. The child’s right to inherit through intestacy from or through the former parents and their kindred also terminates.

An adoption by a stepparent does not affect:

  • The legal relationship between the adopted person and his or her parent who is the adoptive stepparent’s spouse or deceased spouse
  • The right of the adopted person or his or her descendant to inheritance or intestate succession through or from the adoptee’s former parent

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 1-104

The adoptive parent(s) and the adopted person have the legal relation of parent and child and have all the rights and duties of that relationship, including the right of inheritance and succession from or through each other and the kindred of the adoptive parent(s).

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, § 556

When a testator omits to provide in his or her will for any of his or her children, or for the issue of a deceased child, and it appears that such omission was made by mistake or accident, such child or its issue shall have the same share of the estate of the testator as if he or she had died intestate, to be assigned as in case of intestate estates.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 4-112

[This section applies to stepparent adoptions only.]

Upon the request of the petitioner, the petitioner’s spouse, the child’s other parent, or a relative of the child, the court shall review a written agreement that permits another person to visit or communicate with the minor after the decree of adoption becomes final.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 4-112

[This section applies to stepparent adoptions only.]

The agreement shall be signed by the person, the petitioner, the petitioner’s spouse, the minor if age 14 or older, and, if an agency placed the minor for adoption, an authorized employee of the agency.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 4-112

[This section applies to stepparent adoptions only.]

The court may enter an order approving an agreement only upon determining that the agreement is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court shall consider:

  • The preference of the child, if the child is mature enough to express a preference
  • Any special needs of the child and how they would be affected by performance of the agreement
  • The length and quality of any existing relationship between the child and the person who would be entitled to visit or communicate and the likely effect on the child of allowing this relationship to continue
  • The specific terms of the agreement and the likelihood that the parties to the agreement will cooperate in performing its terms
  • The recommendation of the child's guardian ad litem, attorney, social worker, or other counselor
  • Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child

In addition to any agreement approved pursuant to this section, the court may approve the continuation of an existing order or issue a new order permitting the child’s former parent, grandparent, or sibling to visit or communicate with the minor if:

  • The grandparent is the parent of a deceased parent of the child or the parent of the child’s parent whose parental relationship to the child is terminated by the decree of adoption.
  • The former parent, grandparent, or sibling requests that an existing order be permitted to survive the decree of adoption or that a new order be issued.
  • The court determines that the requested visitation or communication is in the best interests of the child.

In making its determination, the court shall consider the factors listed above and any objections to the requested order by the adoptive stepparent and the stepparent’s spouse.

Are agreements legally enforceable? Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 1-109; 4-112

When a decree of adoption becomes final, except as provided in article 4 of this title, any order or agreement for visitation or communication with the minor shall be unenforceable.

In the case of a stepparent adoption, an order issued [for visitation] may be enforced in a civil action only if the court finds that enforcement is in the best interests of a child.

Failure to comply with the terms of an order in a stepparent adoption or with any other agreement for visitation or communication is not a ground for revoking, setting aside, or otherwise challenging the validity of a consent, relinquishment, or adoption pertaining to a minor stepchild, and the validity of the consent, relinquishment, and adoption is not affected by any later action to enforce, modify, or set aside the order or agreement.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified? Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 4-112

[This section applies to stepparent adoptions only.]

An order issued under this section may not be modified unless the court finds that modification is in the best interests of a child, and:

  • The persons subject to the order request the modification.
  • Exceptional circumstances arising since the order was issued justify the modification.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A § 1-108

A decree or order of adoption entered by a court or administrative entity in another country acting pursuant to that country’s law or to any convention or treaty on intercountry adoption that the United States has ratified, has the same effect as a decree or order of adoption issued by a court of this State. The rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be determined as though the decree or order were issued by a court of this State.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 3-802; Tit. 18, § 5078a

Upon receipt of a report of an adoption prepared in accordance with the law of another State or country or a certified copy of a decree of adoption together with information necessary to identify the adopted child’s original birth certificate and to issue a new certificate, the Supervisor of Vital Records shall issue a certificate of foreign birth for an child adopted in this State and who was born outside the United States and was not a citizen of the United States at the time of birth.

The Supervisor of Vital Records shall establish a Vermont birth certificate for a person born in a foreign country when the supervisor receives:

  • A written request that a new certificate be established from the adoptee, if he or she is age 18, or from the adoptive parent or parents, if the adoptee is younger than age 18
  • A record of the adoption

The new Vermont birth certificate shall be on a form prescribed by the Commissioner of Health. The new birth certificate shall include:

  • The true or probable foreign country of birth and true or probable date of birth
  • The adoptive parents as though they were natural parents
  • A notation that it was issued by authority of this chapter
  • A statement that the certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [[https://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/laws/domestic.cfm#sss

References