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Maryland Adoption Laws

The opportunity to expand your family by adopting a child can be a joyous experience. But with the legal requirements surrounding adoption, it can be a complex and potentially confusing one as well. It can seem impossible for the average Marylander to make heads or tails of the state laws that regulate who can be adopted, by whom, and how. So here is a brief summary of adoption laws in Maryland.

State Laws

Most regulations regarding adoption exist at the state level, and will dictate who is allowed to adopt and the special requirements for adoptive parents. Under Maryland law spouses must join in the adoption unless they are legally separated. Even the simplest adoptions can be a momentous and complex process; for help in understanding the law and what your legal requirements might be, you may want to contact an attorney.

Adoption Laws in Maryland

States are free to set up their own adoption laws, which can differ from other states’. Adoption laws in Maryland are highlighted in the chart below.

Code Section

Fam. Law §5-301, et seq.; No

Who May Be Adopted

Any person

Age that Child's Consent Needed

10 years and older if the natural parents' rights have been terminated

Who May Adopt

Any adult, even though single or unmarried. Court cannot deny petition just because petitioner is single. Married persons must act jointly unless legally separated or if one spouse is natural parent of adoptee or spouse is incompetent.

Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption?

Not required

State Agency/Court

Social Services Administration/Circuit or Equity

Statute of Limitations to Challenge

1 year

Maryland, like most states, allows any person to be adopted, and any adult, single or married, to adopt. After the age of 10, the child’s consent is required if the child’s natural parents no longer have parental rights. Maryland also recognizes same-sex couples as co-parents and allows same-sex couples to adopt. Many states have created adoption courts designed to look out for the best interests of a child during adoption proceedings.

Related Resources for Adoption Laws:

The adoption process can be lengthy, and the state statutes and policies concerning adoption can seem never ending. If you would like legal assistance with an adoption case, you can contact an experienced Maryland adoption attorney in your area to schedule a consultation. You can also visit FindLaw’s Adoption and Adoption Laws section for more articles and resources on this topic.

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