In Maryland, as in most states, unmarried couples may jointly adopt children under certain circumstances. However, even in states that do not allow for joint adoption, unmarried couples may still adopt by going through the second parent adoption process.
In Maryland, couples may adopt a child simultaneously, much the same way married couples do. Anyone who is deemed a fit parent may adopt a child if both biological parents give consent, unless the child was abandoned. Children older than 10 years old must give consent to the adoption if their biological parents no longer have parental rights.
While it is not illegal for single people or unmarried couples to adopt children, they may face a more challenging adoption process. Adoption agencies often impose stricter requirements on unmarried couples, making it more difficult for them to prove parental fitness. Married couples typically have an easier time getting approved; unmarried couples may be subject to a home study conducted by a local social service agency, steeper fees, and longer wait times.
Adoptions must be approved by an adoption court, whether petitioners are working with an adoption agency or not. All those who have an interest in the adoption, including the child’s biological parents, the petitioners, and the adoption agency, must receive notice of the hearing. The judge will decide what is in the best interest of the child; if the prospective parents show that it is in the child’s best interest to be adopted by them, then the judge will approve the adoption by issuing a final decree. The adoptive parents then have a legal parent-child relationship and the child’s biological parents’ legal relationship to the child is terminated.
Second Parent Adoption
Unmarried couples can go through the second parent adoption process. This is similar to stepparent adoption, which typically happens when one parent marries someone other than their child’s biological parent and that person wishes to adopt the child. When couples are unmarried, one partner may adopt the child as a single parent and once that adoption is finalized, the other partner can go through the second parent adoption process.
A social worker will usually conduct an adoption home study to evaluate whether the prospective adoptive family’s home is suitable for the child. They will conduct interviews and gather information, such as criminal background and medical records, and submit the findings to the court for approval. Unmarried couples interested in adoption should contact a family law attorney in their local area as the laws on this matter vary by state.
Towson Family Law Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Unmarried Couples Adopt Children
If you have questions regarding the adoption process in Maryland, or you need legal assistance with your adoption, contact a Towson family law lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County. For a free consultation, please contact us online or call us at 443-589-0150.