Experienced Silver Spring, Maryland Lawyer Facilitates the Adoption Process
Compassionate, capable representation for prospective parents in Maryland
In strictly legal terms, adoption is a judicial order creating a parent-child relationship between two people who are not a natural parent and child. But in actuality, adoption is much more. For the children, it’s a lifeline and, in many cases, is the first tangible proof that an adult loves them. For the parent or parents, it’s an acceptance of responsibility to be a primary caregiver, a nurturer, and an adult role model the child can emulate. In many cases, adoption is the greatest gift an adult can give or a child can receive. But unfortunately, the adoption process can be fraught with difficulty, causing many prospective parents to lose heart. In my practice, Law Offices of Tina Sharma, I work to address these difficulties. I draw on a decade of experience in adoption law to remove impediments to the process and help parents finalize adoptions that benefit them and their adopted child.
Current trend in Maryland adoptions
Maryland adoptions are currently half of what they were at the start of the decade. In 2010, there were 607 adoptions finalized, but that number dropped to 542 in 2011, 407 in 2012, 347 in 2013, 330 in 2014 and only 309 in 2015. I believe this downward trend speaks more to the difficulties in the process than it does to any lack of desire for adoptions in the state. I am committed to addressing the impediments to your adoption and removing all legal obstacles in your path. I am also dedicated to ensuring that single parents and members of the LGBT community are not discriminated against when they wish to add an adoptive child to their loving home.
Overview of Maryland adoption law
In Maryland, any adult who is not the child’s natural parent can petition to adopt a child. There is no requirement to be married, but a spouse must be bound in the petition unless the couple is legally separated, the spouse lacks mental capacity to be a parent, or the spouse is already the legal parent of the child.
Maryland recognizes three types of adoptions:
- Public agency adoptions — The Maryland Department of Human Resources places children for public agency adoptions.
- Private agency adoptions — Private agencies that offer adoptions must be licensed by the state’s Social Services Administration.
- Independent adoptions — Parents and legal guardians may put a child up for an independent adoption without a Social Services Administration license.
In Maryland, the legal guardians of any child to be adopted must consent to the adoption. This may require getting consent from the living parents and in some cases asking the court to terminate parental rights over the objection of an abusive or neglectful parent.
Steps in the Maryland adoption process
There are several steps in the Maryland adoption process:
- Petition — The prospective parent(s) files a petition with the court. The petition contains detailed information and requires additional documentation to be attached.
- Notice — The clerk of the court sends notice of the petition to the child’s parents, who are required to give legal consent, and attorneys for the adoptive parents and child.
- Visitation — The law allows the adoptive parent(s) and the natural parents to enter into an agreement for visitation.
- Home study — A home study must be conducted to assess the fitness of the prospective parents and the environment the child will live in. There will be background checks and interviews with each member of the household.
- Hearing — The court holds a hearing to determine the fitness of the adoptive parent(s) and whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
- Order — The court issues its order granting or denying the adoption. Different types of adoptions have different timetables for the issuance of the court order, from 30 to 180 days.
- Post-placement study — Agency caseworkers visit the home at least three times during the first six months to evaluate the adoptive family.
It is important to note there is a right to revocation for agencies and parents offering a child for adoption. This means the offering party can call off the adoption even after giving consent. A public agency can revoke consent up until the court grants the petition. A private agency can revoke consent within 14 days. Parents in an agency adoption can revoke their consent within 30 days, either from the date of consent or the date of the petition filing, depending on circumstances.
Contact my Silver Spring office today to learn more about adoption in Maryland
Prospective parents looking to adopt in Maryland need experienced legal counsel to get through the process. For knowledgeable assistance, call Law Offices of Tina Sharma today at 202-899-5871 or contact my Silver Spring office online to schedule an appointment. My office is conveniently located downtown just one block away from the Montgomery County courthouse.