Consent to Adoption - Vermont

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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 following:

  • 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 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 following:

  • 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 the following:

  • 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 the following:

  • 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 the following:

  • 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

In most cases, a consent to adoption by a parent or guardian is final and irrevocable after 21 days.

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

  • Within 21 days after the consent is executed, the parent 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, before a decree of adoption is issued, the person who executed the consent establishes any of the following:

  • By clear and convincing evidence that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress
  • By a preponderance of the evidence, 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

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

  • 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