There’s good news for you if you are a same-sex couple thinking about adoption in Maryland. Not only is the adoption process pretty straightforward, but also Maryland doesn’t treat same-sex couples any differently than heterosexual couples. In 2016, the Maryland Supreme Court upheld that qualified adults have a fundamental right to parent their children, even if they have no biological or adoptive status. Also, adoption agencies can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation under this ruling.
The most crucial step in the adoption process for both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ parents is securing reliable legal representation. With a seasoned Maryland adoption attorney on your side, you can be assured that they will guide you through every step in the process, helping you with the necessary documentation, answering your questions, and addressing your concerns. They will protect your rights and help you through this often-emotional process.
Adoption Requirements in Maryland
Maryland law is relatively progressive when it comes to adoptions. To qualify as an adoptive parent, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be financially and physically capable of caring for the child
- Pass requisite background checks
- NOT be on a sex offender registry or have a history of child abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence
Adoption Is Still a Legal Process
Even though same-sex couples are generally treated the same as heterosexual couples in an adoption, it’s crucial to remember that it’s still a legal process that is often complicated. Maryland courts are highly protective of the interests of the child because adoption is a permanent and solemn matter that will impact a vulnerable child for the rest of their life. Therefore, the family courts take extreme measures to ensure that the child’s long-term interests are a priority. The process can vary from one court to the next, but typically a potential adoptive parent must go through the following steps:
- Petition the court
- Undergo scrutiny
- Undergo background checks
- Undergo suitability assessment
- A guardian ad litem will be appointed to speak for the child and protect the child’s interests
- Separate legal counsel may be appointed to represent the child
- Unless the biological parent’s rights have been terminated, the biological parents will usually receive a notice and have an opportunity to be heard by the court
- Multiple court appearances
- Formal hearing
Depending on the adoption case type, many more steps may be involved. However, you should also keep in mind that these are just the legal steps that occur once a child and family have been matched for adoption—whether by an agency, an individual, the foster system, or some other way. Finding a child to adopt is often a lengthy process too.
Get Help From a Knowledgeable Maryland Adoption Attorney
The adoption process can be a lengthy, confusing, and emotional process. While most same-sex couples in Maryland don’t encounter more difficulty than heterosexual couples, there is always that possibility. With a knowledgeable Maryland adoption attorney on your side, you can be assured that you will have help with every step of the process, no matter what obstacles you might encounter. Reach out for help today to get the process started off right.