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Schlaich & Thompson Chartered Bel Air Family, Divorce & Criminal Lawyer

Adoption Of A Child Through A Private Agency In Maryland


Maryland family law provides multiple routes for the adoption of minor children. One such method involves private child placement agencies. Often referred to as private agencies under the law, these organizations help place minor children with appropriate individuals or in a suitable home.

To operate as a child placement agency in Maryland, an organization must obtain a license from the Social Services Administration, in accordance with Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-507. In addition, a private agency must become the child’s guardian before it can jumpstart the adoption process.

Private Agency Guardianship

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3A-13 explains how a private agency may request guardianship of a minor child. In order to petition for guardianship of a minor child, there are several potential requirements. First, a private agency must submit all written consent forms that approve of the requested guardianship. Second, when applicable in a particular case, a private agency must also submit:

  • Proof of guardianship or the termination of parental rights, granted by an appropriate judicial, administrative, or executive body; and
  • Certification that the guardianship or the termination of parental rights was granted in compliance with applicable law.

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3A-18 details the requirements for granting guardianship to a private agency. A Maryland state court may only grant guardianship of a minor child to a private agency if:

  • Each of the child’s parents consents in writing to the guardianship;
  • The child’s parents fail to object to the guardianship in a timely manner;
  • Another person or government unit has the legitimate power to consent to the guardianship and does so; or
  • Parental rights were terminated in accordance with applicable law.

Private Agency Adoption

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3A-35 provides the rules for granting private agency adoptions. Assuming that a private agency is the guardian of a minor child, placement for adoption may occur if:

  • The private agency consents to the adoption; and
  • The child consents to the adoption, if that child is at least 10 years old.

In this context, a private agency may not withhold consent merely because:

  • The prospective parent and minor child have a different race, religion, color, or national origin; or
  • The prospective parent has a disability, such as a mental or physical impairment that interferes with major life activities.

In this context, there are several circumstances under which it is possible to revoke consent to an adoption. The ability to revoke consent is limited as follows:

  • A private agency may revoke consent to an adoption within 14 days after consent is provided or the petition is filed; and
  • A child who is at least 10 years old may revoke consent to an adoption at any time before the court enters an adoption order.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you are interested in adoption, the Bel Air adoption lawyers Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered can answer your questions. Reach out to us today for a consultation.

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