Adoption Options in Maryland
While adoption can be fulfilling and rewarding, the laws surrounding adoption in MD can be complex. If you’re thinking about adoption, you may need help understanding these laws or deciding on the type of adoption that’s right for you. LEVIN GANN PA specializes in family law and can give you the guidance you need as you prepare to adopt.
Maryland Adoption Options
There are several types of adoptions, and the rules and requirements surrounding adoption can vary based on the form of adoption you choose. Learning more about adoption in Maryland can help you find the best options for your family’s needs.
Public Agency Adoption
Children that are unable to safely live with their birth families may be placed for adoption by the Maryland Department of Human Services (MDHS). This is referred to as a public agency adoption. The children up for adoption are in many age groups, and in some cases, sibling groups may be placed for adoption.
Typically, when parents adopt through MDHS they initially foster the child or children. Later on, if a child is eligible for adoption, the foster parents will have the option of adopting. Adopting via MDHS requires parents to become licensed as both foster parents and adoptive parents.
To become a foster parent in Maryland, you must:
- Be 21 or older
- Have your home inspected for potential hazards
- Be cleared medically
- Have all adults in the home fingerprinted and cleared by police
- Show that you are able to meet the financial obligations of fostering
- Completing 27 hours of training
If you’re approved to foster a child, you’ll receive a monthly stipend from MDHS while the child is in your care. To adopt the child, you’ll need assistance from a lawyer.
Private Agency Adoption
In addition to adopting through the MDHS, prospective adoptive parents have the option of going through a private adoption agency. These agencies oversee both national and international adoptions. Maryland requires that all private adoption agencies are fully licensed by the Social Services Administration (SSA).
Children that are available to adopt through private adoption agencies are more likely to be infants. While this is something that appeals to many prospective parents, the fees associated with private adoptions can be costly.
In order to adopt through a private agency, prospective parents will typically be asked to:
- Go through a home inspection
- Provide documents verifying the identity of all adults in the household
- Undergo a background check
- Complete an interview and counseling
Requirements for adoption can vary based on the state or country that you’re adopting from. An attorney can prepare you to meet these requirements and help you to navigate any regulations that you need to follow.
As the name implies, independent adoptions are arranged outside an agency. These types of adoptions typically occur when the child’s birth parents and the adoptive family know each other in some way. For example, an adoptive family may choose to adopt the child of a family member or a family friend.
Even when an adoption doesn’t involve an agency, there are rules and guidelines to follow. Both of the child’s birth parents must approve of the adoption. If the child being adopted is 10 or older, the child must approve the adoption as well. The adoption must be approved by the court, which will require an attorney.
Other requirements include:
- Undergoing a home study
- Providing a minimum of three references
- Completing paperwork required by the court
In Maryland, birth mothers can also request that adoptive parents reimburse them for expenses related to the pregnancy, such as prenatal care and medical bills.
How a Family Law Attorney in Towson MD Can Help
No matter what type of adoption you decide on, you’ll need to work with an experienced attorney. Not only are there legal requirements that you have to complete in order to adopt, but there are many factors that could potentially delay the adoption. An experienced attorney can help you avoid potential setbacks and provide you with support throughout the process. The team at LEVIN GANN PA has extensive experience with every type of adoption in MD. Whether you decide to adopt through MDHS, work with a private agency, or are interested in an independent adoption, we can give you the assistance you need. Call us at (410) 321-0600 if you’d like to schedule a consultation.