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What Is The Maryland Approach To Independent Adoption?


Maryland family law includes provisions to govern numerous methods of adoption. In many cases, private child placement agencies handle prospective adoptions. Though independent adoption provides a different route, typically requiring consent from the child’s birth parents.

Returning to the topic at hand, please find below a breakdown of important considerations for independent adoptions under Maryland family law.

What is the Purpose of Independent Adoptions?

The legislative purpose of independent adoptions appears at Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-03. The General Assembly created the legal structure of independent adoptions to:

  • Provide timely, permanent, and safe homes that align with children’s best interests;
  • Protect parents and children from unnecessary separation;
  • Ensure that prospective parents are fit to adopt children;
  • Safeguard against the termination of parental rights without due consideration;
  • Deliver pertinent information to prospective parents about children and their backgrounds; and
  • Defend adoptive parents from future disturbances in their relationship with children.

What is the Legal Process for Independent Adoptions?

One part of the legal process for independent adoptions appears at Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-12. Under this section, a parent or grandparent may place a child for adoption by:

  • Filing a petition for adoption with the Maryland courts; and
  • Obtaining a court order approving the adoption.

There is an exception to Section 5-3B-12. The process above does not apply to adoption by a relative of the child, if they share a blood or marriage relationship within four degrees. There is a separate process and alternate considerations for these adoptions.

Before placing a child through independent adoption, the Maryland courts usually conduct a hearing under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-17. Moreover, Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-19 requires the courts to consider the following factors before approving an independent adoption:

  • All factors relevant to the determination of the child’s best interests; and
  • Any investigative report concerning the adoption and conducted in accordance with Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-16.

On a related note, the Maryland courts cannot deny a petition for independent adoption solely because the prospective parent is:

  • Unmarried;
  • Single; or
  • Disabled

How are Independent Adoptions Approved?

The considerations for approving independent adoptions appear at Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-20. Under this section, the Maryland courts may only approve an independent adoption if:

  • The child’s living parents consent in writing or by failing to object in a timely manner;
  • The child’s appointed guardian consents to the adoption;
  • Parental rights were terminated and, if the child is at least 10 years old, the child consents; or
  • The court approves a non-consensual adoption in accordance with Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-22.

Do You Need Legal Help?

For help from a skilled Bel Air adoption lawyer, reach out to Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered. We are prepared to assist you today.

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