An Overview of Adoption by a Private Party in Maryland
Adoption is a comprehensive but rewarding process for many families. There are a plethora of requirements associated with adopting a child, and unforeseen roadblocks can pop up no matter how straightforward the case may seem.
If you are looking to adopt the child of someone you already know, that can add another layer of complexity to your case. Below, our team of Bel Air private adoption attorneys discuss the process of adoption by a private party in Maryland and the role an attorney can play in the process.
Private Adoption: The Basics
Private adoptions, or independent adoptions, do not involve adoption agencies. Instead, they are managed by the birth parents and prospective adoptive parent(s) involved in the case.
Unlike public adoptions, which are managed through the Department of Social Services, the birth parents have more of a say in the process of a private adoption. Therefore, adoption cases by someone who already knows the child or the child’s birth family, such as a stepparent or other family member, are usually handled privately and without the intervention of an adoption agency.
In addition, the independent adoption of a child by a step-parent can usually be completed without home studies under certain circumstances.
Examples of Private Adoption in Maryland
In a private adoption, a birth parent can place their child with a family or individual of their choosing, who is deemed fit to take care of the child. For example, a birth parent may wish to place their children with a close sibling who is able to take care of them.
Likewise, there are many situations where a stepparent or family member may step in to adopt a child. For example, if a woman with children chooses to remarry, her new spouse may wish to obtain adopt her children to gain full parental rights. In this instance the mother would also retain her parental rights.
The private adoption process offers varying options for visitation and communication between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child or children. Private adoption cases, such as stepparent adoptions, can typically be mediated by an experienced family lawyer who can ensure the process goes smoothly.
Consent From the Biological Parent
In the event of a private adoption, the adoptive parent or parents must receive consent from the biological parents to pursue an uncontested adoption.
The biological parent may willingly consent to relinquishing their parental rights. There are multiple reasons the biological parent may willingly give up custody. They may agree to the adoption process for financial reasons, such as the inability to provide stable financial support for their child or if the current parenting situation is not in the child’s best interest. Voluntary consent is the most amicable approach to completing the adoption process.
Adoption Without Consent
During the independent adoption process, a biological parent has 30 calendar days to revoke their consent after it is given. In the event that the other biological parent does not consent to the adoption or revokes their consent, the adoptive parent or parents can present to the court that the adoption is in the child or children’s best interest and then the judge will decide at a trial whether or not to grant the adoption.
Finalizing the Adoption
After filing a petition with the court, the parties involved must complete extensive documentation and paperwork even if both biological parents consent to the adoption. A finalization hearing will be held where the judge will award the adoptive parent official parental rights of the child or children. Following the hearing, the adoptive parent can file for a new birth certificate for the child or children that will list them as a parent.
See How the Qualified Child Custody and Support Attorneys at Rodier Family Law Can Help
If you are interested in pursuing a private adoption, it is advisable to work with a skilled private adoption lawyer—they handle the legal intricacies of stepparent and relative adoptions to ensure the adoption is secure. In many cases, working with qualified adoption attorneys is more cost effective than going through an adoption agency, which makes having legal counsel for your identified adoption a major benefit.
The attorneys at Rodier Family Law can help you navigate the adoption process and support you from start to finish. To learn more about private party adoptions in Maryland and speak to a skilled adoption lawyer, contact our Bel Air office today.