The Process of Adopting a Child in Maryland
Our staff is especially knowledgeable about the adoption laws of Maryland, having successfully completed the adoption of more than 1,000 Maryland children. Dawn Musgrave, Adoptions Together’s legal counsel, has served on the Governor’s Commission on Adoption, as a consultant to the Maryland Foster Care Court Improvement Project, and as Chair of the Maryland Coalition for Adoption. Learn more about how to adopt a child in Maryland below.
Overview of Maryland Adoption Law
The Maryland adoption law establishes three separate paths to adopt a child in Maryland: adoption with a county department of social services, adoption with a private licensed adoption agency, and private adoption with attorneys. Adoptions Together is a licensed, nonprofit, private child placement agency in Maryland, so we follow the law and procedures relating to adoption from a private licensed adoption agency. Two legal proceedings are required to complete an adoption in this way. In the first proceeding, the child’s parents agree to the termination of their parental rights and the appointment of Adoptions Together to serve as their child’s legal guardian. In the second proceeding, Adoptions Together, acting as the child’s guardian, gives its consent to the child’s adoption by the adoptive parents.
How long does a birth parent have to revoke consent?
A parent who voluntarily consents to the termination of his or her parental rights and the appointment of Adoptions Together to serve as the legal guardian of the child has thirty (30) days after signing the consent to revoke the consent.
Do both parents have to give consent? What happens if one cannot be located?
Under Maryland law, both the mother and father of a child must be notified of the guardianship proceeding and either affirmatively give consent to the termination of parental rights or be given the opportunity to object to the termination of parental rights. Notice can be given through direct service of legal papers or through publication in a newspaper and on a specially designated state-operated website. If the non-consenting parent does not object in the specified time period (usually 30 or 60 days), the parent is considered to have voluntarily consented to the termination of his or her parental rights.
Are Open Adoption Agreements enforceable in court?
Often, birth parents and adoptive parents enter into written agreements about maintaining contact with each other after an adoption is finalized. Open adoption agreements are legally enforceable in Maryland, although a final adoption cannot be set aside because of a breached post-adoption contact agreement.
Where can I learn more about adoption law in Maryland?
Adoption can be a complicated legal process that varies with every unique situation. It is impossible to provide enough information to cover every question through a website. You should consult an experienced adoption attorney with specific questions.
What adoption expenses can adoptive parents expect or be required to pay in Maryland?
As of October 1, 2013, adoptive parents can assist birth parents with certain living expenses if the expectant parent cannot work while pregnant. Additional fees that can be paid in connection with an adoption include medical and legal expenses and the agency’s fee for services rendered in connection with the placement of the child.