Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Maryland that you become familiar with Maryland adoption laws.
Maryland adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in the Maryland adoption laws.
We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Maryland involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.
Click on the following to jump to an area of interest:
- Adoption Requirements in Maryland
- Adoption Consent in Maryland
- Maryland Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
- Maryland Adoption Advertising Laws
- Birth Parent Expenses in Maryland
- Accessing Adoption Records in Maryland
- Post Adoption Contact Laws in Maryland
- When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Maryland?
With so many aspects of Maryland adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Maryland.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Maryland, as laws and policies do change.
Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Maryland: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.
Adoption Requirements in Maryland
- 21 years of age or older to adopt.
- Single or married.
- LGBT couples may adopt.
- Financially able to care for a child.
- Background check.
It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.
Financial security simply means that you are able to pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage, and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.
Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.
Adoption Consent in Maryland
Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Maryland put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in its legal format and in its entirety, visit Maryland Code, Family Law § 5-3B-22, courtesy of FindLaw.
It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.
Other aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.
- The adoptee who is 10 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.
- The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption.
- The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.
Maryland Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Maryland who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.
These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption provides assistance to adoptive families for medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.
In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.
Special Needs Eligibility in Maryland
A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.
- Noted emotional, physical, or mental issues.
- Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
- A child 6 to 17 years of age.
- Race or ethnicity if combined with any of the above factors.
- Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.
Children adopted from private adoption agencies may be eligible for an adoption subsidy, but only if the children are eligible for federal (title IV-E) adoption assistance.
Maryland Adoption Advertising Laws
Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.
Common means of advertising include:
- Printed Flyers
The issue of adoption advertising laws is not addressed in the state statutes. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding birth parent in the state of Maryland.
Birth Parent Expenses in Maryland
In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.
In Maryland, adoption counseling, hospital expenses related to the birth of the baby, transportation, prenatal and postnatal medical care, food, clothing, and shelter are all expenses that the birth parents are permitted to pay for.
If the birth mother is employed, some of the above expenses may not be deemed necessary for the adoptive parents to be responsible for.
Adoptive parents are generally required to file a complete record of expenses related to the adoption that they are covering, and this must happen prior to making a payment toward those expenses.
Your licensed adoption liaison will help to ensure that all financial aspects of the adoption process run smoothly and legally.
What do you do, though, if said expenses are paid and the birth mother changes her mind in the end? Adoption Disruption insurance is available for adoptive parents to protect them from such a misfortune for those adopting domestically.
Accessing Adoption Records in Maryland
Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-4C-05; 5-356; 5-357: Who May Access Information
Only the following parties may register with Maryland’s adoption registry for the sharing of identifying information:
- Birth parents and siblings
- An adoptee 21 years of age and older who does not have a birth sibling under age 21 with the same adoptive parents
Who may have access to nonidentifying and medical information?
- The adoptee
- Adoptive parents
- Birth parents
Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-356; 5-357; 5-358: Access to Nonidentifying Information
Your local state department or child-placing agency will make efforts to gather and make available to the adoptive parents, if available, medical or mental health history that does not contain identifying information about the parent or former parent.
Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-4C-06; 5-4C-07: Mutual Access to Identifying Information
The Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry will receive a request by the birth parent or sibling, the adoptive parent, and the adult adoptee to register in efforts to make a connection. They will submit a notarized affidavit providing identifying information.
A registrant may withdraw at any time by submitting an affidavit.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Post Adoption Contact Laws in Maryland
Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.
Citation: Fam. Law § 5-308: What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?
Contact agreements can be entered into between the prospective adoptive parent and the biological parent of the prospective adopted child. The mutual agreement applies to the contact with with adopted child only while he or she is a minor.
Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-308; 5-525.2: Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement?
The prospective adoptive parent and birth parent may enter into a written agreement to allow contact after the adoption between:
- The parent or other relative of the adopted child
- The adopted child or adoptive parent
Any siblings who are separated due to a foster care or adoptive placement may petition a court, including a juvenile court with jurisdiction over one or more of the siblings, for reasonable sibling visitation rights.
Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-308; 5-525.2: What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements?
If there is a dispute with the contact agreement, a court may recommend mediation in efforts to resolve the dispute.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Maryland?
When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.
Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.
DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to be helpful in offering some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.