Tuesday, 08 May 2012 17:56
The adoption of a child involves legal issues that vary from state to state. When considering the adoption of a child, it is important to consult an experienced adoption attorney to make sure you are complying with the specific laws of your state.
There are two different types of adoptions in Maryland, those facilitated by an adoption agency, and an independent adoption. Here are some common terms you will need to know as you prepare for any adoption legal issues in Maryland:
- Private adoption agencies are agencies that are licensed by the state to provide adoption services. They will provide counseling, assist with the application, and provide after-adoption services to the new parents. The adoption agency is the bridge between the birth and adoptive parents. If you are looking for an international adoption – you will most likely need to seek the services of a private agency.
- Public adoption agencies are government agencies that assist in adoption services (mostly for special needs and foster care children). In Maryland, the public adoption agency is the Department of Social Services for the county you live in.
- Consent to guardianship is the permission that the birth parents must give the adoption agency. This relinquishes the parental rights of the biological parents and allows the adoption agency to place the child with the adoptive parents.
- Termination of parental rights occurs when the court approves the consent to guardianship.
- Consent of the birth parents. See consent to guardianship. The consent of the birth parents may be revoked within 30 days.
- Judgment of adoption. The circuit court in the county of the adoptive parents is petitioned to grant the adoption.
- Birth certificate. In Maryland, the birth certificate of the adopted child does not reflect the adoption.
- Process. Unlike an agency adoption, there is only one step in an independent adoption: the biological parents relinquish their parent rights to the adoptive parents.
- Birthparent visitation rights. The biological parents may wish to retain visitation rights to the child. This is something that should be agreed on in advance. Once the consent to guardianship is granted, the birthparents have no legal right to custody or visitation unless granted by the adoptive parents.
- Legal and medical expenses. It is customary for the adoptive parents to pay the legal and medical expenses associated with the adoption process.
- Birthfather. The biological father, like the biological mother, must give his consent to the adoption. If the father is not known or is unable to be located, then an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation for a certain period of time is necessary. Only by proving that the father was served or given notice will a judge grant the adoption.
- Stepparent adoption. Similar to an independent adoption. The spouse of the biological parent petitions the court for adoption. The biological parent-spouse signs the consent to adoption, which must also have the consent of the birthparent that is relinquishing parental rights. See birthfather.
- Child’s consent. Maryland law requires the child to consent to the adoption if he/she is at least 10 years old.
The laws for adoption vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you are considering adoption or have an issue related to parent rights, it is important to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney.