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How much do you know about adoption in Maryland? – II

In our previous post, we discussed how even though adoption is one of the most fulfilling and happy experiences imaginable, it’s still imperative that anyone considering it has a firm understanding and appreciation of all that the process entails.

To that end, we are providing a series of posts designed to provide basic background information about adoption here in Maryland.

Who is allowed to adopt?

Regardless of whether they are married, any adult who is not considered to be the natural parent of a child may file a petition for adoption. However, it should be noted that in the event the person filing the petition is legally married, their spouse will be automatically joined in the petition unless any of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The spouses are separated.
  • The spouse is already considered the legal parent of the child.
  • The spouse cannot be considered legally competent.  

What about home studies?

Those who file a petition for adoption through a public agency must complete a 27-hour home study course.

What about consent for the adoption?

In general, state law dictates that consent to the adoption must be provided by the legal guardians of the children, and the children themselves if they are at least 10 years old.

As far as independent adoptions are concerned, this means the petitioner will have to secure the consent of all living parents, while for private agency adoptions, the agency itself is generally appointed the guardian and capable of providing the necessary consent.

In the case of public agency adoptions, the Department of Human Resources has typically secured a court order terminating the parental rights of the child’s natural parents and therefore is able to provide to the necessary consent. However, if this did not happen and both parents are still alive, then the consent of at least one parent will be necessary.

In these situations, the adoption can still proceed despite the one parent objecting provided that three conditions are met:

  • The objecting parent has not been in contact with DHS for 180 days.
  • The objecting parent is unable to be located.
  • The objecting parent does not object to the adoption notice filed in the paper.

To be continued …

Consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible to learn more about the adoption process here in Maryland.

Source: The People’s Law Library of Maryland, “Adoption,” June 13, 2014

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