After a final hearing on March 9, 2022, the Vermont House Judiciary Committee moved forward with new language for House Bill 629 (H.629) that gives adopted Vermonters unrestricted rights to their original birth certificates.
The bill is scheduled for a full House vote on Thursday, March 17, and will move on to the Senate from there. Members of the Vermont Adoptee Rights Working Group have been invited to attend the vote. They also plan to meet with legislators before and after the vote to encourage passage in the House and begin the work of passing a clean bill through the Senate.
If H.629 passes and becomes law, birthparent non-disclosure requests and contact preferences will not block an adoptee from obtaining their original birth certificate. The bill as currently written restores to adopted people the right to request and obtain their own original birth records without restrictions. Adoptees will request their original birth certificates directly from the Department of Health, just like non-adopted Vermonters.
According to the new text of H.629, the Vermont Adoption Registry will still facilitate contact between adopted people and birth families. Vermont birthparents can still file requests for non-disclosure of their identifying information, and the registry will also collect a new form—a contact preference form—that will advise adoptees if their birthparent prefers:
- To be contacted
- Not to be contacted
- To be contacted only through an intermediary.
These forms will help adopted people who want to seek additional information about their birth families make decisions about their next steps. But, again, none of these forms will prevent a Vermont adoptee from requesting their OBC.
H.629 Makes Local Headlines
Since March 8, a joint op-ed from VARWG’s founding members has been circulating through Vermont’s local news publications, including:
The Bennington Banner
The Manchester Journal
The Rutland Herald
We are heartened by these developments, and looking forward to meeting legislators we have only seen through Zoom screens. Through a twist of fate, the House vote will happen on St. Patrick’s Day. We hope luck will be on the side of Vermont adoptees as the House votes on H.629.