How to Adopt in Vermont

Vermont may be the second smallest state in the U.S., but it is home to many families seeking adoption opportunities and resources to begin their journey. Whether you are looking to adopt, looking to place your child for adoption, or searching for information about home studies and where to begin the process, the following information will be your guide to all things adoption in Vermont.

What you need to know about adopting a baby in Vermont

To get started on your adoption journey, it is important to understand some of the fundamental aspects and frequently asked questions about the process. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption in Vermont.

What are the laws and requirements for adopting a baby in Vermont?

In Vermont, any adult, single or married, may adopt a child if they are found to be suitable for the child and able to meet their needs.

How much does it cost to adopt a baby in Vermont?

Expenses related to adoption in Vermont range widely depending on the type of adoption you decide to pursue. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Through a private agency or the foster care system? Depending on what you decide, Adoptive Parents may be asked to cover adoption-related expenses such as:

  • Living expenses for the Birth Mom up to 6 weeks after the child’s birth
  • Counseling services for the Birth Parent and child, if needed
  • Hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical bills related to the pregnancy and prenatal care of the Birth Mom and child
  • Transportation expenses
  • Legal and agency fees
  • Any other expenses approved by court

How do you become a Foster Parent in Vermont?

To become a Foster Parent in Vermont, you must meet the following requirements:

A Foster Parent may be single, married, living with a partner, or in a joined civil union.

What is a facilitator and is it legal to use their services for adoption in Vermont?

An adoption facilitator specializes in matching prospective Adoptive Families with expectant mothers; however, they are usually unlicensed and unregulated.

In Vermont, it is recognized that there may be a certified placement facilitator involved in the adoption process, therefore it is legal. The Department for Children and Families will prescribe forms designed to obtain specific information about the minor and the minor’s family and will provide these forms to any agency, attorney, or certified placement intermediary.

Click here to read about the difference between adoption agencies, attorneys, and facilitators.

What you need to know about placing your baby for adoption in Vermont

If you are considering placing your child for adoption, understanding how the adoption process works as well as knowing your rights may relieve some of your worry. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption for your child in Vermont.

Who must consent to an adoption in Vermont?

Consent to adoption in Vermont must be given by the following:

  • The Birth Mom
  • The Birth Father, as identified by the Birth Mom
  • A man who is or has been married to the Birth Mom if the minor was born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage was terminated
  • The child’s legal guardian
  • The current Adoptive Parent or other legal parent of the child
  • A man who meets all of the following conditions:
    • Was not married to the Birth Mom when the child was born
    • Has filed a notice to retain parental rights or gave a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity
    • Has committed to the responsibilities of parenting the child by establishing a custodial, personal, or financial relationship with the child
  • The adoptee if they are at least 14 years old

When is consent not necessary for adoption in Vermont?

Consent to adoption is not required from the following:

  • A person who has relinquished his or her parental rights to the child
  • A person whose parental rights have been terminated
  • The personal representative of a deceased parent's estate
  • A man who was not married to the Birth Mom when the child was born and denies his paternity to the child
  • A parent who has not given consent and who fails to answer or make an appearance in a proceeding for adoption or for termination of a parental relationship within an appropriate time after receiving notice of the proceeding

How and when can Birth Parents consent to adoption in Vermont?

In Vermont, a parent whose consent is required for adoption proceedings may not relinquish their rights to the child until at least 36 hours after the child’s birth.

Before giving consent, the consenting parents must be informed of the following:

  • 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
  • The procedure for the release of the parent's identity

It must then be signed in the presence of:

  • A judge of a court that has jurisdiction over adoption proceedings
  • 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

For a minor to give consent, they must first be advised by an attorney who is not representing the Prospective Adoptive Parents.

Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in Vermont?

In Vermont, consent to adoption becomes irrevocable 21 days after it is given. Within those 21 days, consent may be revoked if:

  • The consenting parent notifies the court in writing of their revocation
  • The consenting parent and Adoptive Parents agree to the revocation

In a direct placement by a parent or guardian, the court will order revocation of consent if the person who executed the consent establishes:

  • Clear evidence, before a decree of adoption is issued, that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress
  • Clear evidence before a decree of adoption is issued that a petition to adopt was not filed within 45 days after the adoption placement, unless the 45-day period was extended by the court
  • Clear evidence that a condition permitting revocation has occurred

What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in Vermont?

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. The term does not include a person whose parental rights to a child have been terminated judicially.

A petition to terminate parental rights and a notice of hearing on the petition will be served to the Parent or Alleged Parent who has not consented to the adoption or whose parental rights have not been terminated. If he or she 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.

Home study and Post Placement Requirements in Vermont

Prospective Adoptive Parents in Vermont are required to complete a home study before beginning the adoption process and a postplacement assessment after the adoption takes place. Both will assess your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child you wish to adopt.

What is a home study and what happens during the process?

The home study is a critical component to the adoption process. While it is to ensure your home will provide a child with stability, safety, and support, it is also a resource for Prospective Adoptive Parents to ask questions and prepare for the adoption. A home study is ultimately a recommendation as to the fitness of the applicants to become Adoptive Parents.

In Vermont, the home study evaluation will include personal interviews, home visits, and an assessment of the following:

  • Parenting experience
  • Income and outstanding financial obligations
  • Education and employment history
  • Physical and mental health
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse, if applicable
  • Previous adoption petitions or home studies and their outcomes
  • The motivation for choosing adoption
  • Whether the applicants have been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation
  • Whether the applicants have been subject to an abuse prevention order, charged with or convicted of domestic assault, or subject to a court order restricting their parental rights
  • A completed criminal background check
  • Any other factors that might influence the suitability of the Adoptive Parents

Who oversees a home study in Vermont and who is included in it?

A home study will be conducted by qualified department-appointed person and will include all of the members living in the household being evaluated.

Why would my home study not be approved in Vermont?

In Vermont, a home study will not be approved if the person making the assessment determines the child’s placement in the home would pose a risk to his or her physical and psychological well-being or finds that the petitioner is not suitable to become an Adoptive Parent.

Is a home study different for stepparent or relative adoptions in Vermont?

A home study assessment will not be required prior to the petition to adopt by a stepparent or relative, but an evaluation of the individual will be required while approval of the adoption is pending. The evaluation will determine if the adoption is in the best interest of the child based on interviews with the petitioner, spouse of the petitioner, and others who know the petitioner. Observation of the relationship between the petitioner and the child will also be taken into consideration.

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.

What are the home study requirements for adopting a baby from another state?

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

What is a post placement requirement and what happens during the process?

Before the adoption has been finalized, a post placement assessment will take place to ensure the transition into adoption is going well and that the Adoptive Family's circumstances have not changed to no longer fit the child's best interest.

In Vermont, within 5 days of the child being placed into the Adoptive Home, the court will order an evaluation the adoption to include personal interviews with the family and an observation of the home. A written report of the evaluation should include:

  • An account of any change in the Adoptive Parent’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 available information about the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the adoptee 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 adoptee, the petitioner, or any child of the petitioner
  • Any behavior of the Adoptive Parent’s that raise a concern
  • A recommendation concerning the granting of the petition for adoption

Vermont Adoption Professionals

Vermont is home to some amazing adoption professionals who are ready to get your journey started. Whether you are interested in adopting a child or seeking resources to place your child for adoption, these professionals will guide you through the legal pathways and offer you support throughout your journey:

Casey Family Services

802-649-1400

Friends in Adoption

802-235-2311

Wide Horizons for Children

802-453-2581

Things to do in Vermont

If you find yourself in Vermont while waiting to finalize the adoption process or meet your new child, visit some of the States most visited hot spots:

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester

Burlington Bike Path in Burlington

Shelburne Museum in Shelburne

Shelburne Farms in Shelburne

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington

A note from Adoption Network Law Center

No matter your decision, we appreciate the time you have taken to read about how to adopt in Vermont. Adoption Network Law Center wishes you the best of luck and is available to answer any further questions you may have about the adoption process. Call 1-866-602-9541 to speak with one of our amazing team members or visit https://adoptionnetwork.com/ to read more about our services. Whether you’re a soon-to-be Birth Parent or Prospective Adoptive Parent, ANLC wishes you the best on your adoption journey.