Who Can Adopt a Child in Maryland?
If you want to expand your family, a Maryland adoption attorney can help you reach this goal. While adoption is a beautiful and emotional event, it is also a legal process with strict requirements. Learn more about adoption in Maryland below.
Almost any adult can adopt a child in Baltimore, Annapolis, Bel Air, and the rest of Maryland, as long as they can ensure the child’s safety and welfare. Maryland law does not discriminate against adoptive parents based on their:
- Marital status (you can be married, single, or divorced);
- Sexual orientation;
- Race or ethnicity;
- Whether you own or rent your home.
However, you typically must undergo a home study.
A home study assesses your ability to care for a child and involves more than simply touring your residence. You will also participate in training, interviews, and a criminal background check. You will discuss your work life, personal interests, values, and financial stability. If you already have children, they might also participate in the home study (if age appropriate).
After you complete a home study, the agency will decide whether you are a suitable adoptive parent. If you have questions or concerns about a home study, contact Maryland adoption attorney James Crawford for advice. We can also educate you about your appeal rights if your home study is unfavorable.
Types of Adoptions
Adoption is a deeply personal decision. When you begin the adoption process, it’s important to understand your options. Depending on your circumstances and priorities, you can adopt a child through:
- Public agency adoption:
You adopt a child through the Department of Social Services in Maryland city near you.
- Private agency adoption:
A private adoption agency oversees and coordinates your adoption.
- Independent adoption:
The birth parents and adoptive parents arrange the adoption without the involvement of an adoption agency. Some parents prefer independent adoptions since they have more control over the process.
- Kinship adoption:
A family member (such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle) adopts a child.
- Stepparent adoption:
A stepparent adopts their spouse’s child.
Additionally, you can choose between:
- Open adoption:
Birth parents receive information about the child, interact with the child, and maintain some level of relationship.
- Semi-open adoption:
There is less face-to-face contact, but the adoptive parents send the birth parents information about the child’s activities and well-being (such as pictures and letters).
- Closed adoption:
The child does not have continuing contact with his or her birth parents.
Open and semi-open adoptions are increasingly popular in the United States. However, each form of post-adoption relationship has its advantages and disadvantages. A Maryland adoption attorney can help you understand these issues and structure your adoption to meet you and your child’s needs.
Maryland’s Adoption Process
Before the formal adoption process begins, you must consider a variety of issues. These include:
- Are you willing to adopt a disabled or special needs child?
- What level of involvement should the birth parents have?
- Are you interested in a domestic or international adoption?
- Do you want to adopt an infant, a young child, or an adolescent?
James Crawford, a Maryland adoption attorney with over 20 years of experience, will guide you through this analysis and help you decide which options are best suited to your family and parenting goals.
Next, you will begin your adoption search. Your search process will vary, depending on your type of adoption. For example, you might meet with prospective birth parents. Or, you might travel repeatedly to your child’s birth country if you are pursuing an international adoption.
Once you complete your adoption search and home study, you must file a formal petition for adoption. Typically, the birth parent or parents must consent to the adoption. You must also submit reports and other documents to the court. A Maryland adoption attorney will ensure that your documentation and petition are properly filed and prepare you for your adoption hearing. Our goal is to make adoption proceedings as painless and simple as possible. Contact James E. Crawford & Associates for more information.
Can a Birth Parent Revoke an Adoption?
Before an adoption is final, either a birth parent or adoption agency can revoke consent. Depending on where you are adopting your child, there are varying timelines for revocation. However, most Maryland birth parents can revoke their consent within 30 days of signing a consent form or filing an adoption petition (whichever is later). And, depending on the circumstances, both birth and adoptive parents might have appeal rights after a judge grants or denies a petition to adopt. If you are facing consent issues or an appeal, contact a Maryland adoption attorney immediately. Ignoring these issues can result in the loss of your child.
Work with an Experienced and Compassionate Maryland Adoption Attorney
When you work with a Maryland adoption attorney, you can focus on the most important part of the process– preparing for your child’s homecoming. Since 1993, James E. Crawford and Associates has assisted parents with adoptions and other family law matters. We offer free and confidential consultations.