Not all adoptive parents are married couples. Some single individuals want to adopt on their own, while other couples who wish to adopt might not be married. Maryland law allows for unmarried people to adopt as long as they meet other requirements.
You also do not need to have foster children or prove you have a ton of money to adopt. The government simply needs to ensure that you have adequate resources to support a child. You do not have to own a home, as renters are eligible to adopt.
Many people wish to be a parent even if they are not married – or even with a partner. The minimum age to adopt is 21 years old, and there is not a maximum age limit. However, if a prospective adoptive parent is over age 60, they might undergo additional scrutiny to prove they can properly care for the child.
An individual must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and must complete at least 27 hours of parenting training. They must pass one or more home visits to demonstrate they have a good environment in which to raise a child. If a court ultimately agrees that the single-parent adoption is in the best interests of the child, a judge can approve the adoption and grant parental rights to an unmarried individual.
Sometimes, a couple has their own reasons why they choose not to get married, but they still want to build a family together. If one unmarried partner adopts a child, the other parent will not have legal rights to the child if they split up – even if they helped raise the child and have a close bond with them.
The law in Maryland does allow two unmarried individuals to jointly adopt a child in certain situations. This provides parental rights for both partners in the event that they separate down the line.
Even if two unmarried partners cannot adopt a child at the same time, they might be able to go through the second parent adoption process. One individual initially adopts a child, and once that adoption case is final, the other individual can begin the process of second parent adoption. This process is similar to stepparent adoption, though the background check and investigation into the second parent can be more extensive.
While the law does allow individuals or unmarried couples to adopt a child, there might be more hurdles throughout the adoption process. Agencies or social workers might be more inquisitive and challenging regarding fitness to be an adoptive parent. There might be higher costs and longer waiting periods than married couples might experience.
If you are in this situation and wish to begin the adoption process while you are not married, your first step should be to consult with an adoption lawyer. A lawyer can advise you of your qualifications and help move the process along in a fair manner.