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Adoptive Parents’ Rights in Maryland

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2022 | Firm News

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a process that creates a parental relationship with a child who is not that person’s natural offspring. A bond is formed that can last for the rest of the child and parent’s natural lives. This relationship can be established by a court order.

There are many reasons why individuals and couples choose to adopt. One parent may have remarried, and their new partner may want to adopt their stepchildren. Others may be unable to have children. Some could just be inspired to give a child a chance at a better life.

How Can a Child Be Adopted in Maryland?

Children can be adopted in the state of Maryland in three ways: independent adoptions, private agency adoptions and public agency adoptions. Independent adoptions are set up between adoptive parents and a child’s biological parents. They can work with each other through the assistance of legal counsel or directly.

In these cases, the birth mother needs to agree to the adoption. Courts usually aren’t able to grant independent adoption requests if one parent has filed a notice of objection. Exceptions may be made if the person who filed the petition has a close emotional connection to the family or if the petitioner has already maintained custody of the child in question for over 180 days.

The parent must not have been convicted of any significant violent crimes or committed any acts of abuse against the child. Parents are not allowed to contact their child once the petitioner has custody, and the parent cannot have provided financial or other forms of support to the child in question. A hearing will be held to evaluate all essential concerns and determine whether the adoption can proceed.

Public agency adoptions are handled through the Maryland Department of Human Services. This state agency places children up for adoption. A 27-hour study course is mandated for any prospective parents who want to adopt a child through a public agency.

Adoption can also be conducted through private agencies. Each private agency or person must be licensed. This can be accomplished through the state’s Social Services Administration. A license is not required for parents or other immediate family to put a child up for adoption.

Who Can Be an Adoptive Parent?

Adoption can be requested by any adult who is not the child’s natural parent. Single and married people can adopt children. If one or both spouses is requesting an adoption, each person’s name is usually included in the adoption petition. Spouses who are already a child’s legal parent, are separated from their partner, or have been found to be legally incompetent will be excluded from the petition.

What Steps Do Adoptive Parents Have to Go Through?

The process begins with a petition that is filed in the respective local circuit court. Adoptive parents must attempt to locate the child’s natural parents. Birth parents can approve or object to the adoption request.

Reports and investigations will be filed with the court as needed. A hearing will then be held to determine the outcome. A judge can approve or deny the adoption petition. If an appeal is made, it will be heard by the Court of Special Appeals.

Consent is mandatory for all adoptions in Maryland. In most cases, consent will be provided by the child’s birth parents. Adoption agencies will be the guardian for any children that the agency has put up for adoption. The agency can give consent for those adoptions at any time.

Once an adoption has been awarded, the birth parents’ parental rights will be terminated. One exception is a situation where a birth parent has remarried and their new partner was able to adopt their child. In those instances, both the stepparent and the natural parent will have parental rights.

What Rights Do Adoptive Parents Have?

Adoptive parents are allowed to seek out and obtain as much relevant information as possible about the health conditions and biological family of the child that they wish to adopt. They can receive and request assistance from the adoption agency before and after placement. Adoptive parents can also change their minds before adoption if they want, and parent their adopted child just as if they were their own biological offspring.

If you have adoption questions, we’ve got answers! Contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation. We’ll listen to your concerns and advise you as to your next steps. Our trained professionals can even help with some of the paperwork.

It can take time for parents and children to get to know and understand one another during an adoption. There can be hesitation, confusion, and frustration. There will be good days and bad days but making the time for each other and having an open mind, are steps in the right direction.

Showing your adoptive child that you care and only want the best for them can make a world of difference. Some children have grown up in foster homes or have dealt with an addicted or abusive parent. They may have trust issues, which is perfectly normal. Treating a child with courtesy, dignity, and respect can help them learn to treat others in kind. It can also make adoptions much less stressful in the long run.