Maryland Adoption Laws Every Birth Parent and Adoptive Family Should Know
As an adoption and surrogacy attorney, Peter Wiernicki’s priority is ensuring each of his clients understands and is comfortable with state adoption laws and procedures.
If you are considering surrogacy or adoption in Maryland, either as a hopeful parent, expectant mother or gestational carrier, this article will help you understand family-building laws in Maryland.
Laws to Adopt a Child in Maryland
As a hopeful adoptive parent in Maryland, you will be required to comply with state adoption laws through each step of the process — from your eligibility to adopt through finalization procedures. Fortunately, Peter Wiernicki has the legal expertise you need to successfully navigate the legal adoption process and ensure all Maryland adoption laws are followed.
The following section will help you better understand laws for adoptive families in Maryland.
What are the legal requirements to adopt a child in Maryland?
Any adult may be eligible to adopt a child in Maryland. Married couples must adopt jointly unless:
- they are legally separated
- one spouse is not competent
- they are completing a stepparent adoption
Hopeful parents must complete an approved adoption home study before they will be eligible to adopt.
What are the legal requirements to become a foster parent in Maryland?
To become a foster parent in Maryland, applicants must:
- be at least 21 years old
- pass a fingerprint-based criminal background check
- have sufficient income to meet their family’s financial needs
- submit medical examinations
- provide three references
- complete at least 27 hours of training
- complete two home visits and an inspection with a social worker
Please visit the Department of Human Resources for more details about Maryland home study and foster care requirements.
What are the legal requirements to finalize an international adoption in Maryland?
After adopting a child internationally, you may be required to legally finalize or re-adopt your child in Maryland, depending on the type of adoption visa your child received.
Even if re-adoption is not legally required in your circumstances, it is strongly encouraged for every family who has completed an international adoption. Re-adoption involves a simple review of documents and a single court hearing, and Peter can complete the entire process in a matter of weeks.
What adoption expenses are adoptive parents responsible for in Maryland?
In an agency adoption, adoptive families may pay for all hospital, medical and legal services, as well as reasonable agency fees. In an independent adoption, adoptive families may pay for hospital and medical services, legal services and adoption counseling.
Adoptive parents must file with the court an accounting of all payments made during the adoption process.
Please read the following for more information about adoption fees.
How does the adoption home study work in Maryland?
The adoption home study is a legal requirement for any family looking to adopt in Maryland. The home study must be conducted by a qualified professional and will assess all adult members of the adoptive household.
During the Maryland home study, adoptive applicants and other adults in the home will be required to submit:
- a sanitary home approval
- a fire safety approval
- three references
- at least four in-person interviews
- criminal background checks
- criminal background checks
- Child Protective Services clearances
- background checks of child support arrearages
The home study may not be approved if any adult in the home:
- has been convicted of a crime that causes concern for a child’s safety
- refuses to consent to child protective services clearance
- has an indicated finding of child abuse or neglect
Please visit 1-800-homestudy.com for more information about the adoption home study process.
Laws to Place a Child for Adoption in Maryland
As a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may have questions about Maryland adoption laws and your rights throughout the process. As your adoption attorney, Peter Wiernicki will ensure you have all of the services, information, compassion and understanding you need to safely and legally make an adoption plan for your baby.
Here, learn more about birth parent rights and consent procedures in Maryland adoptions.
Who is required to consent to the adoption in Maryland?
In Maryland, the birth mother and birth father must consent to the adoption. However, there are circumstances when parental consent is not required for the adoption to proceed.
If parental rights have been terminated, the head of the agency having guardianship or the director of the department having custody of the child must consent to the adoption.
The court may grand the adoption only if the child being adopted does not object to the adoption. If the child is at least 10 years old, his or her consent is required.
If you are uncertain whether your consent is required for adoption, you may contact Peter to discuss your specific circumstances.
When can a birth parent give their consent to the adoption?
In Maryland, a birth parent may consent to the adoption any time after the child is born.
How long do the birth parents have to change their mind about the adoption?
An expectant mother may legally change her mind and discontinue the adoption process at any point during her pregnancy. After the baby has been born and consent has been signed, the birth parents have 30 days to change their mind before it becomes irrevocable.
Does the birth father have to be involved in the adoption plan?
In Maryland, a man is considered to be the legal father of a child, and therefore has certain rights in the adoption process, if:
- he is married to the child’s mother
- he has been determined by the court to be the child’s father
- he has acknowledged his paternity in writing
- he has openly recognized the child as his own
- he has subsequently married the child’s mother and acknowledges himself as the child’s father
- he and the child’s mother executed an affidavit of parentage
Surrogacy Laws in Maryland
As an assisted reproductive technology (ART) attorney, Peter Wiernicki’s role is to ensure his clients are able to safely and legally complete the surrogacy process. Whether you are interested in Maryland surrogacy laws as an intended parent or gestational carrier, Peter can work closely with you to ensure you understand your legal rights and responsibilities through each step of the surrogacy process.
Here, find answers to common questions about surrogacy laws in Maryland.
Is surrogacy permitted in Maryland?
Maryland is considered a surrogacy-friendly state. While there are no established surrogacy laws in Maryland, gestational surrogacy was implicitly approved by a Maryland court in In re Roberto d.b. (2003).
Can surrogates be compensated in Maryland?
Gestational carriers may be fairly compensated in Maryland. There are no laws restricting surrogate compensation.
Do Maryland courts grant pre-birth parentage orders?
The intended parents, gestational carrier, and her husband (if applicable) can file a pre-birth order in Maryland. The pre-birth order will be granted without a hearing, recognizing the intended parents as the legal parents of the child before he or she is born.
Surrogacy and adoption laws are complex and can change rapidly. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who specializes in these areas of law to ensure your adoption or surrogacy is handled legally.
Whether you are pursuing adoption or surrogacy as an adoptive family, intended parent, prospective birth mother or gestational carrier, Peter Wiernicki will work closely with you to ensure you understand your legal rights throughout the process. If you have questions about surrogacy and adoption laws in Maryland, contact Peter to schedule a free consultation.