The Vermont Adoption Act of 1996 made it easier for adoptees, adoptive parents and birth family members to access information about adoptions finalized in Vermont; though adoption records are still confidential.
What information is available?
Non-identifying information: a summary of information found in the adoption record — about the birth parents, birth siblings, the adoption, the adoptive parents and the adoptee's health, genetic and social background.
Identifying information: facts that will help establish the identity and whereabouts of the adoptee, a birthparent, or a birth sibling (e.g., a full name, date of birth, and last known address).
- Adoptee's original birth certificate: a non-certified copy of the adoptee's original birth certificate.
Who can request it?
Adult or emancipated adoptees, adoptive parents, adoptees' legal custodians/guardians, direct descendants of deceased adoptees or their parents/guardians if they are under 18, birthparents, birth grandparents, and birth siblings (half or whole).
Adult or emancipated adoptees, direct descendants of deceased adoptees or their parents / guardians if they are under 18, birthparents and birth siblings age 18 and over.
Adoptee's original birth certificate:
Birthparents and adoptees born in Vermont and legally entitled to identifying information.
Where do I get the information I'm entitled to?
- Non-identifying information:
Available from the agency that handled the adoption. If you do not know the name of the agency, contact the Registry and we'll refer you to the appropriate one. If there was no agency involved, the agency is no longer active, or it was a state adoption, the Registry can provide you with non-identifying information.
- Identifying information:
Only the Registry can release identifying information without a court order.
- Adoptions finalized before July 1, 1986: the mutual consent of the adult adoptee and the birthparent or sibling is required.
- Adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 1986:
- Identifying information about a birthparent will be released to an adoptee upon request, unless the birthparent has requested nondisclosure.
- Identifying information about an adoptee or birth sibling can only be released with his or her consent.
- Original Birth Certificate:
- Birthparents: send a copy of identification (e.g., driver's license) along with your request to Vital Records Office, VT Dept of Health, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT, 05402-0070.
- Adoptees: send a copy of a letter from the Registry or an order from probate court authorizing the release of your birth certificate to Vital Records Office, VT Dept of Health, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT, 05402-0070.
What if I'm denied information?
- Non-Identifying Information:
If you're denied information you are entitled to by law, you may petition the probate court to get it.
- Identifying Information:
If you are an adoptee and the Registry has denied you information you are entitled to by law, you may petition the probate court to get it. The judge will consider several factors when reaching a decision, including your reasons for wanting this information, whether the person you are seeking is alive, and whether that person filed a request for nondisclosure. If the person has not filed such a request, the court will make a reasonable effort to contact that person to find out his or her response to your petition (this is often done by a third party at the judge's request). The judge will then consider any response received when reaching a decision.
How do I petition the court?
Contact the Registry. We can refer you to the appropriate court and answer any questions you have about the process.
What if I want to be found?
Contact the Registry to file your consent to the release of identifying information about you. Then, be sure to inform the Registry if you move.
What if I don't want my identity to be disclosed?
Contact the Registry to file a request for nondisclosure; however, be aware that this does not guarantee you won't be found. A judge could decide to release identifying information about you for compelling reasons. In addition, adoptees and birth parents often find each other without the help of courts, agencies, or the Registry.
What about newly available health information?
Adoptive parents, adoptees, or birth family members who become aware of health information that could seriously affect the health or reproductive decisions of another party should contact the Registry. We will attempt to notify the affected party; however, a certified statement from a physician is required.
Is there a cost?
Courts, agencies, and the Registry may charge a reasonable fee for costs associated with compiling and releasing information. Any fees will be disclosed to you in advance.