Congratulations on choosing to adopt a child!
Choosing to make a difference in a child’s life through adoption is a wonderful thing. During this journey, you will need the help of a skilled and compassionate adoption lawyer.
When an adult wants to independently (non-agency placement) adopt a child, there are certain legal procedures that must be followed. In a stepparent adoption, one biological parent must terminate his or her parental rights while the other parent must consent to the adoption. Lawyers may be needed for the adoptive parents, the biological parents, and, in some instances, the adoptive child. There should be consideration and counseling as to the effect that adoption will have on the family. There are also considerations for post-adoption contact with biological parents.
The independent adoption process involves submitting very specific paperwork, and the Court will not process an adoption until all paperwork has been received. The required paperwork may include certified copies of birth certificates, custody orders, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees. A doctor's statement of health for the parents and children is needed. A Home Study may be ordered or, under appropriate circumstances, a motion can be filed to have the Home Study waived. Biological parents must be served with notice of the proceedings in accordance with the law.
Before an independent adoption is finalized, the Court must hold a hearing. If the adoption is consensual, then the hearing is a true celebration. There will usually be multiple adoptions granted on the same day. Adoptive parents and child(ren) go to Court dressed up to hear the Judge call their name and grant the adoption. Family members often attend and everyone present will cheer and clap. The family will receive an adoption certificate and an Order granting the adoption and, in many cases, changing the child's last name. The Judge will sometimes take pictures with the family at the hearing. It can be a wonderful and meaningful experience.
If the independent adoption is contested by a biological, then the Court may still grant the adoption after a Court hearing where evidence will be presented. The Court must consider:
whether a biological parent had custody of the adoptive child in the past year;
whether there has been meaningful contact between the biological parent and adoptive child;
if there was a failure by the biological parent to contribute to support and care;
if there was abuse or neglect present between the biological parent and adoptive child;
if there have been criminal convictions against the biological parent for abuse or violence against the child or a sibling; or
if the biological parent has lost parental rights to another child.
The primary consideration is to the adoptive child's health and safety before terminating parental rights.
As experienced adoption attorneys in Maryland, we will outline the typical steps in adoption and the timelines you should anticipate, and compile complete and accurate documentation required to adopt a child. We also handle adult adoptions.
Contact the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman, family law attorneys in Baltimore and Towson, Maryland to receive the experience, expertise, and compassion you need to navigate through your adoption case.