From Baltimore to Columbia, Germantown to Silver Spring, thousands of Maryland families are completed by adoption every year. Whether you are considering adopting a baby or placing your child for adoption, read on to learn everything you need to know about adoption in the Old Line State.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Maryland
Each state has its own laws determining who can adopt and how the adoption process will go. If you are interested in adopting a child in Maryland, the following information will help you better understand your state’s adoption laws and process.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Maryland?
In Maryland, any adult may be eligible to adopt. Married couples must adopt jointly unless they are separated, one spouse is not competent or it is a stepparent adoption.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Maryland?
The following expenses are permitted in agency adoptions:
- Hospital and medical services
- Legal services
The agency may also accept reasonable reimbursement for costs of an adoption service.
In an independent adoption, adoptive parents may pay the following:
- Hospital and medical services
- Legal services
- Adoption counseling
Adoptive parents are required to file an accounting of all payments and disbursements made in connection with the adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Maryland?
To be approved as a foster parent in Maryland, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Pass a fingerprinted criminal background check (every adult member of the household must also be fingerprinted)
- Meet family’s financial obligations
- Submit medical examinations to determine physical and emotional ability to care for children
- Provide three references
- Complete at least 27 hours of training
- Pass a home inspection
- Complete two home visits with the approval worker
- Agree not to use physical punishment
More information about Maryland foster parent requirements is available through the Department of Human Resources.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Maryland?
An adoption completed in compliance with a foreign jurisdiction’s laws will have the same legal effect as a Maryland order of adoption. Adoptive parents are not required to petition a Maryland court for adoption if the child was adopted in compliance with the laws of a foreign country and if the child is issued a visa verifying the validity of the adoption. The child will be issued a new birth certificate through the state upon receipt of a foreign adoption decree, proof of the child’s birth date and place and a request from the court, the adoptive parents, or the adopted person if he or she is 18 or older.
The certificate will be labeled “Certificate of Foreign Birth” and will include the child’s actual country of birth, along with a statement indicating that the certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Maryland?
The use of advertising is not addressed in Maryland statutes. A person cannot charge or receive any compensation for a service in connection with an adoption placement or agreement for custody. This does not prohibit payment for adoption counseling, hospital, legal or medical services.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Maryland
If you are pregnant and considering an adoption plan for your baby, you may have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a child for adoption in Maryland. Read the following section to find answers to common questions about Maryland adoption laws.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Consent can be given any time after the child is born. Consent must be given in a language that the party understands; if this is a language other than English, the consent must be given before a judge on record or be accompanied by a statement that the translation of the consent document is accurate.
The consent must also name the child and contain enough information to identify the prospective adoptive parents. The consenting party must receive written or on-the-record notice of the provisions for revoking consent as well as the search rights of adopted persons. The consent must also be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the parent is consenting knowingly and voluntarily if he or she is a minor or has a disability.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In Maryland, consent must be given by:
- The birth mother and birth father
- The head of the agency having guardianship, if parental rights have been terminated
- The director of the department of social services having custody of the child
The child being adopted must be represented by an attorney. For children who are at least 10 years old, the adoption may only be granted if the child consents to the adoption. The court may only grant the adoption if a child under age 10 does not object.
When is parental consent not needed?
Parental consent may not be necessary in the following circumstances:
- The parent has not had custody of the child for at least one year
- The child has developed significant emotional ties to the prospective adoptive parents
- The parent has not maintained meaningful contact with the child while the prospective adoptive parents had custody
- The parent has failed to physically care for and support the child
- The parent has abused the child
- The parent has been convicted of abuse of any of their children
- The parent has been convicted of committing or conspiring to commit a crime of violence against his or her child, the child to be adopted, or another parent of the child
- The parent has lost parental rights to a sibling of the child
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Birth parents may revoke their consent within 30 days of signing the consent or 30 days after the adoption petition is filed, after which consent is irrevocable.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Maryland adoptions?
A man is considered to be the father of a child, and therefore has parental rights, if:
- He has been judicially determined to be the father in paternity proceedings
- He has acknowledged his paternity in writing
- He has openly and notoriously recognized the child as his own
- He has subsequently married the child’s mother and has acknowledged himself to be the father.
An unmarried mother and father will have an opportunity to execute an affidavit of parentage, which constitutes a legal finding of paternity.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Maryland
Before prospective parents can adopt or foster a child in Maryland, they must complete a home study. The home study assesses all prospective adoptive and foster parents to evaluate their ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child. Below, learn more about the home study requirements and process in Maryland.
What is included in the Maryland home study process?
The Maryland home study includes the following:
- A sanitary home approval (this may be waived if the home uses a local health department-approved water supply and sewage disposal)
- A fire safety approval
- Three references (including two non-relatives)
- At least four interviews
- At least one separate interview for each member of a married couple
- Individual interviews with each family member as age-appropriate
- Criminal background checks for all adult household members
- Child protective services clearances for all adult household members
- Background checks of child support arrearages
Who is included in the home study process?
The Maryland home study includes the applicant and all household members who are at least 18 years old.
Who will conduct the home study?
The home study will be conducted by the local department.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Maryland?
The home study may not be approved if any adult in the household has been convicted of a crime that causes serious concern for a child’s safety. The home study will not be approved if any individual refuses to consent to the child protective services clearance or has an indicated child abuse or neglect finding.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Maryland?
Post-placement services must be provided to all children and families before the adoption is finalized. The agency caseworker will visit the adoptive family at least three times during the first 6 months following placement. During these visits, the caseworker will provide evaluative and educational services to the adoptive family. Once the family and the caseworker have decided it is time to finalize the adoption, the caseworker will prepare the necessary documents and acquire the local department director’s consent to the adoption.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Maryland?
This issue is not addressed in Maryland statutes.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Any interstate adoption is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
Families who wish to adopt a foster child if guardianship is granted are considered legal risk adoptive homes. Placement in legal risk adoptive homes is made in an effort to facilitate permanency for children whose goal is adoption. The requirements and home study process is the same for legal risk adoptive parents as it is for foster parents, with additional education about legal risk placement.
When you are ready to begin the Maryland home study process, contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:
- Adoption Makes Family, Inc.
Adoption Makes Family, Inc. is a licensed, nonprofit adoption agency that focuses on providing international and domestic home studies.
- Cradle of Hope Adoption Center, Inc.
Cradle of Hope Adoption Center is a licensed, nonprofit, Hague-accredited adoption agency providing home study, placement and post-adoption services to families adopting in the U.S. and overseas.
- Global Adoption Services
Global Adoption Services, Inc. is a licensed and Hague-accredited nonprofit adoption agency serving families seeking home studies and post-adoption services.
Maryland Adoption Professionals
When you are ready to begin your adoption journey, your adoption professional can help guide you through the process. These licensed professionals are experienced in completing adoptions in Maryland and can help ensure that you meet all state adoption requirements:
- American Adoptions
- Adoption Makes Family
- The Barker Adoption Foundation
- Creative Adoptions, Inc.
- Adoptions Together
For more information about foster care in Maryland, visit the Maryland Department of Human Resources.
Things to do in Maryland
If you find yourself spending some time in the Old Line State, whether you are waiting for ICPC clearances so you can return home or you are visiting a prospective birth mother, here are a few fun things you can enjoy while in Maryland:
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore)
- S. Naval Academy (Annapolis)
- The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore)
- Fort McHenry National Monument (Baltimore)
- Ocean City Beach (Ocean City)
- National Aquarium, Baltimore (Baltimore)
- Historic Annapolis (Annapolis)
- Assateague Island National Seashore
For more information about traveling to Maryland, visit http://www.visitmaryland.org/.