Birth Certificates in Vermont
We love Vermont. Dairy farms, the Green Mountains and Skiing (but not while you’re pregnant, of course). But mostly we love how intended parents and gestational surrogates both benefit from the birth certificate process set forth in Vermont's parentage laws.
In Vermont, all intended parents are eligible to have their names listed on their child’s initial birth certificate. We love that!
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about Vermont birth certificates in the context of gestational surrogacy:
Q: Whose names will be placed upon the child’s birth certificate for a Vermont gestational surrogacy arrangement?
A: The intended parents’ names will go on the birth certificate.
Q: Does the gestational surrogate’s name go on the birth certificate?
A: No, the surrogate is not a legal parent and her name does not go on the child’s birth certificate.
Q: What is the role of a Vermont “birth order” in relation to birth certificates?
A: Vermont law allows for the Court to issue birth orders that designate the contents of the birth certificate and which direct that the Department of Health designate the intended parents as the child’s legal parents on the birth certificate paperwork.
Q: Don't many states allow for “pre-birth orders” that achieve the same results?
A: While many states afford this opportunity to married intended parents using their own eggs and sperm, only a handful of states have laws that offer a benefit as expansive as Vermont’s parentage law, which covers all intended parents, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. In addition, there are some legal nuances that make the Vermont “birth order” process more protective for the intended parents and the surrogate—your attorney will go over these nuances with you in more detail.
Q: What is the role of the attorney’s written declaration with regards to the issuance of the birth certificate?
A: The attorney’s written certification must be attached to the gestational carrier contract. The certification basically says that the contract conforms to the requirements of Vermont law. The Department of Health can simply rely on this certification to issue the birth certificate. How easy is that??!!
Q: What kind of birth certificate is issued for intended parents relying upon donor eggs?
A: The initial birth certificate will be issued containing the names of both intended parents. The surrogate's name will not appear on the birth certificate, and the non-genetic parent does not have to adopt the child. A caveat: there may be compelling legal reasons for the non-genetic parent to seek an adoption anyway, so discuss this with your lawyer.
Q: What happens with single intended fathers?
A: Vermont permits a single intended father to be named as the sole legal parent on the child's initial birth certificate.
Q: For male same-sex couples using sperm from each partner, is a paternity test required?
A: No. Gay couples using sperm from each partner do not need to undergo paternity testing in order to establish their legal parentage to the resulting child. Both men can have their names placed upon the birth certificate from the outset.
Q: What does the birth certificate look like for single intended mothers using donated eggs?
A: Vermont permits a single intended mother using donor eggs and donor sperm to be named as the sole legal parent on the birth certificate that is initially issued.
Q: My child will be born in Vermont through surrogacy. How do I get a copy of my child’s birth certificate?
For Vermont surrogacy births, you will not automatically receive a copy of the birth certificate (don’t worry—this is true for all births that happen in Vermont). You will need to order a birth certificate (the fee is a very reasonable $10, so it makes sense to get a couple certified copies). You should do so promptly after the birth so you can make sure everything is correct.
Q: Will I need the birth certificate to take my baby home from the hospital? How will I “prove” the baby is mine without a birth certificate?
A: The norm—for all births—is that the baby goes home with his/her parents before the birth certificate is issued. Healthy vaginally-born babies often go home within 24 hours, so you can see there’s no time to even get a birth certificate issued before the baby is discharged. Unless you need to get a passport ASAP, there’s generally no immediate need to have the birth certificate. If you do need a passport, New England Surrogacy will help you get an expedited birth certificate.
A reminder: There are several prerequisites that must be met to obtain the benefits of Vermont’s surrogacy law. Your attorney will discuss this with you in more detail. As a surrogate or intended parent with New England Surrogacy, you will have your own attorney to walk you through the legal process.