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How much do you know about adoption in Maryland? - III

In a series of ongoing posts, our blog has been providing some basic background information about adoption here in Maryland.

Our goal throughout has been to help people understand and appreciate that while the conclusion of the adoption process -- welcoming a new family member --- is joyful beyond words, getting to this point involves navigating a complex legal process.   

How is the adoption process formally initiated?

The adoption process is formally initiated with the filing of the petition for adoption with the court. It should be noted, however, that this petition must include certain information, including additional documents filed as exhibits.

What happens next?

After the court clerk receives the petition, attorneys representing the child and parents, as well as every person required to provide their consent to the adoption will be sent notice of the filing.

As we discussed earlier, in those instances where parental rights have not been terminated, a show cause order will also be sent to the parents by the court. This order gives them time to formally object to the adoption petition.

Will there be a hearing?  

Yes, a hearing will be held before any final decision is made concerning the adoption petition. During this hearing, the court will not only ensure all of the paperwork is in order, but also make two very important determinations:

  • What's in the best interests of the child named in the petition?
  • Are the petitioners fit to be parents to the child named in the petition?

It's important to remember that agencies will be required to submit a report prior to the hearing in private agency adoptions, while an investigation may be ordered by the court in independent adoptions.

What happens after the hearing?

While the court will obviously issue an order either denying or granting the adoption, the timeframe in which this order is issued depends on the type of adoption:

  • Public agency adoptions: Within 180 days of the hearing, but only after the time allotted for a show cause order and revocation has expired.
  • Private agency adoptions: Not until 30 days after the order for guardianship of the child has been received by the agency.
  • Independent adoptions: Not until the time allotted for revocation has expired.

If you would like to learn more about your rights and your options as they relate to the adoption process here in Maryland, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Adoption," June 13, 2014

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