Maryland Same-Sex Couples Clear to Adopt
Ever since the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, LGBTQ rights have greatly expanded nationwide. Following that decision, most states have been quick to confirm that based on the high court’s reasoning, same-sex couples share a universal right to not only marry but also share in the same basic rights as opposite-sex couples. One important way that this applies in Maryland is the right to adopt a child.
Maryland Adoption Laws
In general, Maryland law is fairly progressive about adoptions. To qualify as an adoptive parent, you must be at least 21 years old, be financially and physically capable of caring for the child, and pass requisite background checks. You cannot be on a sex offender registry or have a history of child abuse or sexual abuse, and domestic violence will usually be a bar, except in unique situations.
Recent Changes to the Law
As reported by the Baltimore Sun, in 2016 the Maryland Supreme Court upheld the basic proposition that otherwise qualified adults have a basic right to parent their children, even if they have no biological or adoptive status. The ruling also clarifies that adoption agencies may not discriminate based on sexual orientation. While this rule is designed to protect the rights or LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ parents alike, it definitely seems to be a win for those in the LGBTQ community who may have previously struggled to maintain a relationship with the children they’ve loved and cared for.
Adoption is Still a Complex Legal Process
Because adoption is a permanent and solemn matter that will impact a vulnerable child for the rest of his or her life, courts are highly protective of the interests of the child. In order to become an adoptive parent, whether single or married, courts will take drastic measures to ensure that the child’s long-term interests are considered. The process may vary from court to court, but in general, a potential adoptive parent must go through the following:
- Petition a probate court
- Undergo scrutiny
- Undergo background checks
- Undergo suitability assessment
- A guardian ad litem will be appointed to speak for the child and protect the child’s interests
- Separate legal counsel may be appointed to represent the child
- Biological parents will usually receive notice and have an opportunity to be heard, unless parental rights have been terminated
- Multiple court appearances
- Formal hearing
Of course, keep in mind that there may be more steps involved, depending on the case. Also, these are just the legal steps that occur once a child and family have been matched. Finding a child to adopt can often be a lengthy process as well.
How a Maryland Adoption Lawyer Can Help
Since adoption is a formal court proceeding, it is imperative that you have skilled legal assistance from beginning to end. Otherwise, you risk creating costly mistakes that could jeopardize the adoption altogether. Contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland to find out how we can help you successfully and smoothly navigate the adoption process. Often there are major pitfalls you can avoid by relying on the skill and experience of a local adoption lawyer. Don’t take chances with your adoption case; call today.