Adding a new member to your family is invariably an exciting experience, but it can be a procedurally and legally complicated one as well. In the interests of protecting both the wellbeing of adopted children and the rights of their biological parents, there are several rules and regulations set out by Maryland state law regarding who is allowed to adopt and what steps they must take to do so legally.
Achieving a positive and efficient resolution to the adoption process could be much easier with guidance from a knowledgeable Bethesda adoption lawyer. Once retained, your family attorney could walk you through the different ways someone can execute an adoption in Maryland, go over the laws applicable to each approach, and help ensure your adoption goes as smoothly as possible.
How State Law Governs Different Types of Adoptions
Maryland allows for three different methods of adoption: adoptions through a public agency, adoptions through a private agency, and independent adoptions arranged directly between a prospective adoptive parent and the biological parent(s) of the prospective adoptee. The necessary procedures for all these types of adoptions are broadly similar, but there are some unique rules applicable to each type that a Bethesda adoption attorney could explain in more detail if necessary.
State law does not require prospective adopters to be married or to have a certain sexual or gender identity. However, it does require adoption petitioners who are married to file the said petition jointly with their spouse, unless the petitioning party is separated from their spouse, the petitioner’s spouse is considered legally incompetent, or the petitioner’s spouse is the biological parent of the person to be adopted.
Like all other states, Maryland also mandates that the biological parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of a prospective adoptee grant informed consent for the adoption to proceed. Adoptions that occur through public or private agencies generally serve as the adoptee’s legal guardians for this purpose, but for an independent adoption to go forward, all living parents and/or legal guardians of the prospective adoptee must consent to the adoption. In addition, the prospective adoptee must consent to the adoption themselves if they are 10 years of age or older.
Basic Steps in the Adoption Process
To begin the adoption process in Bethesda, the party or parties intending to adopt another person must file a petition with the Juvenile Court for Howard County, under the requirements laid out in Maryland Rule 9-103. Upon receiving this petition, the clerk of the juvenile court will send a notice to all parties who must legally consent to the adoption informing them of the petition. If a prospective adoptee’s biological parent(s) has not yet surrendered their parental rights, the court will also send a show-cause order to the petitioning parent(s) asking them to demonstrate why those rights should be terminated.
Once all preliminary steps are complete, the court will schedule a hearing to either approve or deny the petition, based on the court’s interpretation of what outcome would best serve the prospective adoptee’s best interests. There may also be a court-ordered investigation into the petitioning parent(s) during independent adoptions, during which an adoption lawyer in Bethesda could provide crucial assistance protecting the rights of that petitioning parent(s).
A Bethesda Adoption Attorney Could Help
Adoption can fundamentally change the lives of everyone involved for the better, especially for children who have no living parents or relatives. However, there are plenty of procedural hurdles that adoptive parents must overcome before they can welcome someone new into their home, any of which could impede or even halt the adoption process altogether if not accounted for.
Assistance from a Bethesda adoption lawyer could be key to making sure your adoption goes the way you want it to. Call today to learn more.
The Law Offices of Josephia Rouse, Esq