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Searching 2019-2020 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 15A: Adoption Act

Chapter 006: RECORDS OF ADOPTION PROCEEDING; RETENTION, CONFIDENTIALITY, AND ACCESS

  • § 6-101. [Reserved.]

  • § 6-102. Records confidential

    (a) All records on file with the court or in the possession of an agency, the department of health, the registry or other provider of professional services in connection with an adoption are confidential and may not be inspected except as provided in this title.

    (b) During a proceeding for adoption, records are not open to inspection except as directed by the court.

    (c) Within 30 days after a decree of adoption becomes final, the clerk of the superior court shall send to the registry a copy of any document signed pursuant to section 2-105 of this title.

    (d) All records on file with the court or agency shall be retained permanently and kept confidential for 99 years after the date of the adoptee's birth. Confidential records and indices are not open to inspection or copying by any person except as provided in this title.

    (e) The records of an agency that ceases operation in this State shall be transferred to the Department for retention under the provisions of this title. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 131; 2017, No. 28, § 4, eff. May 10, 2017.)

  • § 6-103. Adoption registry

    (a) The registry shall maintain:

    (1) an index containing all of the following information, as applicable:

    (A) the adoptee's name at birth and after adoption and date of birth;

    (B) the names and addresses of the adoptee's former parents and adoptive parents;

    (C) the date and court in which a consent or relinquishment was filed;

    (D) the date and court in which the petition was filed;

    (E) any agency involved in the adoption;

    (F) the date and nature of the disposition of the petition;

    (2) a copy of any consent for the disclosure of identifying information filed with the court;

    (3) a copy of the information filed with the court which is described in section 2-105 of this title.

    (b) The probate division of the superior court shall provide the department with the information necessary to maintain this index. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238a, eff. Feb. 1, 2011.)

  • § 6-104. Release of nonidentifying information

    (a) The following persons may request nonidentifying information from confidential adoption records:

    (1) the adoptive parent, the legal custodian or guardian of an adoptee, an adoptee who has attained the age of 18, an emancipated adoptee, a deceased adoptee's direct descendant who has attained the age of 18 or the parent or guardian of a direct descendant who has not attained the age of 18; and

    (2) the adoptee's former parent, grandparent or sibling.

    (b) Upon request by a person listed in subdivision (a)(1) of this section, the court that heard the adoption petition, the agency that placed the adoptee for adoption, or other person who assisted in the adoption shall furnish a detailed summary of any relevant report or information contained in confidential reports in their possession about the adoptee, the adoptee's former parents and the adoptee's genetic history, including the information required by section 2-105 of this title. This report shall exclude identifying information concerning an individual who has not signed a waiver of confidentiality.

    (c) Upon request of a person listed in subdivision (a)(2) of this section, the court, the agency that placed the adoptee for adoption, or other person who assisted in the adoption shall release a summary of any relevant report or information in their possession about the adoptee's history after the former parents' rights were terminated. The summary shall exclude identifying information concerning an individual who has not signed a waiver of confidentiality.

    (d) The court or agency may charge a reasonable fee for the compilation of nonidentifying information, based on the actual costs incurred.

    (e) An individual who is denied access to nonidentifying information to which the individual is entitled under this article may petition the court for relief.

    (f) If a court or the registry receives a certified statement from a physician explaining in detail how a health condition may seriously affect the health or reproductive decision of an adoptee or a direct descendant of an adoptee, the registry shall make a diligent effort to notify the adoptive parents of a minor adoptee, an adoptee who has attained 18 years of age, or an adoptive parent of a deceased adoptee that the nonidentifying information is available and may be requested from the registry.

    (g) If a court or the registry receives a certified statement from a physician explaining in detail why a serious health condition of the adoptee or a direct descendant of the adoptee should be communicated to the adoptee's genetic parent or sibling to enable them to make informed reproductive and other health related decisions, the registry shall make a diligent effort to notify those individuals that the nonidentifying information is available and may be requested from the registry.

    (h) The registry shall prescribe a reasonable procedure for verifying the identity of an individual who requests or furnishes information under this section. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-105. Disclosure of identifying information

    (a) Identifying information about an adoptee's former parent shall be disclosed by the registry to any of the following persons upon request:

    (1) An adoptee who is 18 or more years old.

    (2) An adoptee who is emancipated.

    (3) A deceased adoptee's direct descendant who is 18 or more years old or the parent or guardian of a direct descendant who is less than 18 years old.

    (b) From July 1, 1996 to December 31, 1997, the registry shall disclose identifying information under subsection (a) of this section only if the former parent consents to such disclosure. After December 31, 1997, the registry shall disclose information under subsection (a) of this section as follows:

    (1) For adoptions that were finalized prior to July 1, 1986, the registry shall disclose identifying information if the former parent has filed in any probate division of the superior court or agency any kind of document that clearly indicates that he or she consents to such disclosure.

    (2) For adoptions that were finalized on or after July 1, 1986, the registry shall disclose identifying information without requiring the consent of the former parent except the registry shall not disclose such information if the former parent has filed a request for nondisclosure in accordance with the provisions of section 6-106 of this title and has not withdrawn the request or, prior to July 1, 1996, has filed in any court or agency any kind of document that clearly indicates that his or her identity not be disclosed and has not withdrawn the document.

    (c) An adult descendant of a deceased former parent or the guardian of a former parent who has been declared incompetent may consent to the disclosure of information as provided for in subsection (a) of this section.

    (d) If an adoptee, who is 18 or more years old, consents, identifying information about the adoptee shall be disclosed by the registry to any of the following persons upon request:

    (1) The adoptee's former parent;

    (2) The adoptee's sibling who is 18 or more years old.

    (e) Identifying information about the adoptee shall be disclosed to the adoptee's former parent if the parent of an adoptee who is less than 18 years old consents to the disclosure.

    (f) Identifying information about a deceased adoptee shall be disclosed by the registry to the adoptee's former parent or sibling upon request if:

    (1) the deceased adoptee's direct descendant is 18 or more years old and consents to the disclosure; or

    (2) the parent or guardian of a direct descendant who is less than 18 years old consents to the disclosure.

    (g) Identifying information about a sibling of an adoptee shall be disclosed by the registry to the adoptee upon request if both the sibling and the adoptee are 18 or more years old and the sibling consents to disclosure. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238a, eff. Feb. 1, 2011.)

  • § 6-106. Request for nondisclosure

    A former parent of an adoptee may prevent disclosure of identifying information about himself or herself by filing a request for nondisclosure with the registry as provided in section 6-105 of this title. A request for nondisclosure may be withdrawn by a former parent at any time. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-107. Release of original birth certificate

    (a) A copy of the adoptee's original birth certificate may be released to the adoptee upon the request of an adoptee who has attained the age of 18 and who has access to identifying information under this article.

    (b) When 99 years have elapsed after the date of birth of an adoptee whose original birth certificate is sealed under this title, the department of health shall unseal the original certificate and file it with any new or amended certificate that has been issued. The unsealed certificate becomes a public record in accordance with any statute or regulation applicable to the retention and disclosure of birth certificates. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-108. Certificate of adoption

    Upon the request of an adoptive parent or an adoptee who has attained the age of 18, the register or clerk of the court that entered an adoption decree shall issue a certificate of adoption which states the date and place of adoption, the date of birth of the adoptee, the name of each adoptive parent, and the name of the adoptee as provided in the decree. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-109. Disclosure authorized in course of employment

    This article does not preclude an employee of the agency or the registry from:

    (1) inspecting permanent, confidential, or sealed records for the purpose of discharging any obligation under this title;

    (2) disclosing the name of the court where a proceeding for adoption occurred or the name of the agency that placed an adoptee to an individual described in sections 6-104 and 6-105 of this title who can verify his or her identity; or

    (3) disclosing nonidentifying information contained in confidential or sealed records in accordance with any other applicable state or federal law. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-110. Fee for services

    A court, an agency or the registry may charge a reasonable fee for services, including copying services, it performs pursuant to this article. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-111. Public notice of statutory change

    The department, with the cooperation of other departments of state government, shall make reasonable efforts to notify members of the public who may be affected by changes in statute governing the release of identifying and nonidentifying information, including:

    (1) informing the general public by submitting press releases to the news media in Vermont and other states;

    (2) informing adoptee, birth parent and genealogy groups in Vermont and other states;

    (3) including information in motor vehicle registration and license renewals;

    (4) including information in appropriate locations on the Internet; and

    (5) contacting the adoption coordinators in each state and determining what agencies or groups in that state should be notified. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 6-112. Action for disclosure of information

    (a) A person denied disclosure of information under section 6-104, subdivision 6-105(b)(1) or (2), or section 6-107 of this title may file a petition in the court to obtain the information being sought.

    (b) In determining whether to grant a petition under this section, the court shall review the records of the relevant proceeding for adoption and shall make specific findings concerning:

    (1) the reasons the information is sought;

    (2) whether the individual about whom information is sought has filed a request for nondisclosure under section 6-106 of this title or any other kind of document requesting that his or her identity not be disclosed, has not filed any document, or has otherwise indicated a preference regarding the disclosure of his or her identity;

    (3) if known, whether the individual about whom information is sought is alive;

    (4) whether it is possible to satisfy the petitioner's request without disclosing the identity of another individual;

    (5) the expressed needs of the adoptee including the emotional and mental health needs of the adoptee.

    (c) Before making a determination under this section the court shall make a reasonable effort to confidentially contact the person whose identity is being sought in order to determine that person's response to the petition and shall consider any response in reaching its decision.

    (d) If the reason the petitioner was denied disclosure was due to the fact that there was no consent on file and there is no request for nondisclosure filed under section 6-106 or any other kind of document in the court or agency that clearly indicates that the identity of the person being sought not be disclosed, the court shall order disclosure of the requested information if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that disclosure is in the best interest of the petitioner and that disclosure is unlikely to cause harm to the person whose identity is being sought.

    (e) If the reason the petitioner was denied disclosure was due to the fact that there was no consent on file and a request for nondisclosure was filed under section 6-106 or any kind of document was filed in the court or agency that clearly indicates that the identity of the person being sought not be disclosed, the court shall not make a search under subsection (c) of this section and shall not order the disclosure of the requested information except for compelling reasons. (Added 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)