Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families - Vermont

Date: August 2018

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 5124

A postadoption contact agreement must be in writing and signed by each parent and each intended adoptive parent entering into the agreement. There may be separate agreements for each parent. The agreement shall specify:

  • The form of communication or contact to take place
  • The frequency of the communication or contact
  • If visits are agreed to, whether supervision shall be required, and if supervision is required, what type of supervision is required
  • If written communication or exchange of information is agreed upon, whether that will occur directly or through the Vermont Adoption Registry
  • If the Adoption Registry shall act as an intermediary for written communication, that the signing parties will keep their addresses updated with the Adoption Registry
  • That failure to provide contact due to the child's illness or other good cause shall not constitute grounds for an enforcement proceeding
  • That the right of the signing parties to change their residence is not impaired by the agreement
  • An acknowledgment by the intended adoptive parents that the agreement grants either or both parents the right to seek to enforce the postadoption contact agreement
  • An acknowledgment that the adoptive parent's judgment regarding the child is in the child's best interests
  • The finality of the termination of parental rights and of the adoption shall not be affected by implementation of the provisions of the postadoption contact agreement
  • A disagreement between the parties or litigation brought to enforce or modify the agreement shall not affect the validity of the termination of parental rights or the adoption

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 5124

Either or both parents and each intended adoptive parent may enter into a postadoption contact agreement regarding communication or contact between either or both parents and the child after the finalization of an adoption by the intended adoptive parent or parents who are parties to the agreement. Such an agreement may be entered into if:

  • The child is in the custody of the Department for Children and Families or a nonparent pursuant to § 5318(a)(2) or (a)(7), or § 5232(b)(2) or (b)(3) of this title.
  • An order terminating parental rights has not yet been entered.
  • Either or both parents agree to a voluntary termination of parental rights, including an agreement in a case that began as an involuntary termination of parental rights.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements?

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 5124

The court shall approve the postadoption contact agreement if:

  • It determines that the child's best interests will be served by postadoption communication or contact with either or both parents.
  • It has reviewed the following:
    • A sworn affidavit by the parties to the agreement that affirmatively states that the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily and is not the product of coercion, fraud, or duress
    • A written acknowledgment by each parent that the termination of parental rights is irrevocable, even if the intended adoption is not finalized, the adoptive parents do not abide by the postadoption contact agreement, or the adoption is later dissolved
    • An agreement to the postadoption contact or communication from the child to be adopted, if he or she is age 14 or older
    • An agreement to the postadoption contact or communication in writing from the department, the guardian ad litem, and the child's attorney

In making a best interests determination, the court may consider:

  • The age of the child
  • The length of time that the child has been under the actual care, custody, and control of a person other than a parent
  • The desires of the child, the child's parents, and the adoptive parents
  • The child's relationship with and the interrelationships between the child's parents, the adoptive parents, the child's siblings, and any other person with a significant relationship with the child
  • The willingness of the parents to respect the bond between the child and the child's adoptive parents
  • The willingness of the adoptive parents to respect the bond between the child and the parents
  • The adjustment to the child's home, school, and community
  • Any evidence of abuse or neglect of the child
  • The recommendations of any guardian ad litem, a therapist or mental health care provider working directly with the child, and the department

Are agreements legally enforceable?

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 1-109

When a decree of adoption becomes final, except as provided title 33, § 5124, any order or agreement for visitation or communication with the minor shall be unenforceable.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 5124

The order approving a postadoption contact agreement shall be a separate order issued before and contingent upon the final order of voluntary termination of parental rights.

The executed postadoption contact agreement shall become final upon legal finalization of an adoption under title 15A, Article 3.