Hello Vermonters! I am here to talk about adoption as it pertains to those who want to adopt a baby or child in the state of Vermont. Please note that although this is a guide to assist prospective adoptive parents in their journey through adoption, it, in no way takes the place of finding an adoption agency and/or an adoption attorney to walk you through the process.

For a lot of people, adoption is a scary word because they do not understand what it means and what it can do for families who are infertile, with too many miscarriages, who have children but cannot have any more, or who just want to grow their family. This article will help hopeful adoptive parents through the steps they must take in order to adopt a child in Vermont. 

Stages of Grief

There comes a time, even while you are thinking about adoption as a way to grow your family, that you may experience the five stages of grief. For some people, this occurs as each step is listed, but more times than not, you will find yourself bouncing from one step to another.

  • Denial: When you first learn that either you are not able to conceive at all, or that you cannot carry any more children, you may want to deny that either is happening to yourself, family, and friends. 
  • Anger: You may constantly find yourself in this stage. Anger is masking the hurt you feel, possibly as a result of infertility, or not being able to biologically have as many children as you had hoped. You might find this is the one you either stay stuck in the most or go back and forth with. 
  • Bargaining: You and even your significant other may feel as if you could try “one more time,” that maybe the doctors were incorrect, or that you would be happy with whatever outcome you are given. Unfortunately, the issue with bargaining is it hardly ever turns out the way you wish it would.
  • Depression: This is the stage that I think many people start with and stay in until they come to terms with the reality of their fertility issues, or what they “thought” was the family they wanted. Being depressed can also come with isolation. When you feel like less of a person because you cannot or no longer can have your own children, it can make it difficult to be around pregnant friends and family, babies, and even small children, especially if someone does not know your circumstances and asks the age-old question, “So when are you going to have your own (or more if you already have kids) little ones?” That question can definitely make you feel less than you are and make you want to be left alone.
  • Acceptance: This is a difficult and grueling stage to reach but once you have come to terms with your situation, then and only then can you begin to piece together other options such as adoption to have the family you desire. It may not look the way you envisioned, but it is your family regardless.

What Does Adoption Mean?

Many who have the task of deciding whether adoption is what is best for themselves and their families have a vague idea of what adoption means or even what their journey will look like should they choose this route as the way to start or extend their family. So, what does the word even mean? Adoption means, “To take on the legal responsibilities as a parent of (a child that is not one’s biological child).” In layman’s terms, this means that you take responsibility for the raising and nurturing of a child someone else gives birth to. 

Different Types of Adoption

As you are thinking about your options in Vermont, there are different types of adoption that you want to make yourself aware of. 

  • Domestic Adoption: Domestic adoption is the most common type of adoption. It can also be the most difficult because not only are you, the prospective adoptive parents wanting to adopt a baby, but because this is the most frequently requested type, that the wait can take years. This is an adoption that takes place in the United States. There are many prospective adoptive parents who will wait several years to adopt just because this is the form of adoption they are adamant about.
  • International Adoption: Also known as intercountry adoption, is when you go outside of the United States to adopt a baby or child. International adoptions can be more time consuming and arduous than domestic adoption. This is because countries that allow intercountry adoption have their own rules that must be followed. Some of the countries that allow this are China, Malaysia, Sweden, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Taiwan, and Syria. There are many more but this will give you an idea of where to start. The paperwork for international adoptions seems to be a lot more than a domestic adoption but, in reality, there is no more, it is just more tedious. 
  • Foster Adoption: Some will tell you that this is the easiest and cheapest way to adopt but in order to get to that stage you must become a foster parent first. This, in and of itself, has its own rules and regulations that must be followed. If you are a foster parent and want to adopt a child you are fostering, there are fewer steps and it is less expensive than the others mentioned. Usually, when you think of adopting a child you are already fostering, you should believe that they are already an integral part of your family. 

Qualifying to Adopt in Vermont

Well… here you are. You have come to terms as best as you can regarding this new dynamic you want to include. First, however, you want to make sure you meet the qualifying criteria in Vermont. These include:

  • If you wish to foster-adopt, you must be 21 or older; otherwise, as long as you are an adult, you can adopt in Vermont
  • There is no marital requirement, which means you can be either single or married
  • You want to make enough so that you are able to house, clothe and feed a child
  • Crimes that will keep you from fostering or adopting are those involving any violence against a child or woman such as physical or sexual abuse, or rape

Steps to Adoption

  1. The first step to adoption in Vermont is making that decision. Is adoption what is right for you and your family? You will want to discuss this, at length, with your significant other before bringing up the subject to any children you may already have.
  1. Next, you will want to obtain the assistance of an adoption agency and an attorney. What is an adoption agency? The easiest way to look at an adoption agency is as the go-between. They will be the ones who facilitate correspondence between the prospective adoptive parents and the birth parents. Gladney Center for Adoption is a qualified and awesome agency to work with. Even though they are not based in Vermont, they assist couples worldwide in getting in touch with birth mothers/parents. If they are unable to assist you, they can help you find an agency that is better suited to your needs. What does an adoption attorney do? Most of the time, these attorneys work specifically in the adoption arena, assisting prospective adoptive parents with the legal aspects of adoption, making sure every T is crossed and I is dotted so the adoption will go as smoothly as possible.
  1. Creating your profile for birth mothers to look through can be a difficult task, to say the least. Luckily, your caseworker is available to help you organize and put your best foot forward. With the wonderful world of technology, you also have it a little easier with something called photolisting. This makes it so everything you create is done so on a computer.
  1. Home Study” seems like a frightening word in and of itself. During this step, you can make it go smoothly by being as prepared as possible; such as making sure your other children, should you have any, understand what is happening, making certain you have all documents ready, your home is in order, etc. A social worker will interview all the adults, together and separately, sometimes they interview children as well. They want to be certain that you are able to care for a child not only financially but have room in your home and hearts as well.
  1. In Vermont, this is the step where you petition to adopt. In order for this step to take place, you would have to have passed the home study. A judge will decide whether they see you as a good fit for adoption. Should the judge rule in your favor, the waiting begins. Depending on your adoption of choice and whether you are willing to adopt older children or only infants, this could happen quickly or take years.
  1. You’re almost done. The day has finally arrived when a birth mother wants to meet with you. So, what do you do? How do you ease into conversation with a person you have never met and could be giving birth to the next member of your family? Some easy starter questions are a good place to begin: 
  1. What do you like to do for fun?
  2. Do you have hobbies and what are they?

7. Once you have been chosen, last but not least, comes the finalization. There will be another hearing with a Vermont judge. During this final phase, the parental rights of both birth parents will be terminated and the adoptive parents will be added as the parents of the child. During this stage, if open adoption or partially open adoption was chosen prior by both parties, the judge will set visitation that is in the best interest of the child. The steps to becoming a family can be difficult for some but the outcome is worth every excruciating step. You are a family and that is all that matters. 

Jenn Martin-Wright is a cowboy, jean wearing, country music, and rock loving cowgirl who loves books and jewelry. She was born three months too early with a disability that should’ve taken any semblance of a normal life from her. Her mom made sure Jenn did everything she was capable of. Coming from a big family, it was either keep up or get left in the dust. Jenn graduated high school, then went on to get married, have kids, and receive a BS in Social Work. Jenn lives in Idaho with her kids and a Maltese named Oakley who has become her writing helper as she writes novels under an alias for different genres.