Understanding Maryland Adoption Laws

As adoption laws vary by state, it can be confusing to know exactly what Maryland’s statutes are. To help you understand adoption laws in Maryland, then, we’ve compiled a list of all relevant Maryland adoption laws. For more information about adoption in Maryland, call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Who can adopt a child in Maryland?

Any adult can petition to adopt a child in Maryland. If the person who petitions is married, that person’s spouse must join in on the petition unless:

  • The spouse and the person who files the petition are separated

  • The spouse is not competent to join in on the petition

  • The spouse is a parent of the child being adopted and consents to the adoption (as in stepparent adoption cases)

What are the requirements to adopt a child from the Maryland foster care system?

To foster parent or adopt from foster care in Maryland, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old.

  • Complete at least 27 hours of training with your foster care agency.

  • Have the financial means to provide for an additional child.

Maryland’s foster care system has no marriage requirements, and foster parents can be either home owners or renters.

Can adoptive families pay for birth parent expenses in Maryland?

Yes. Maryland permits the following birth parent expenses:

  • Fees for adoption counseling

  • Hospital or medical services

  • Legal expenses

  • Transportation for pregnancy-related medical care

  • Birth mother expenses for food, clothing and shelter if a doctor deems her unable to work or support herself due to the pregnancy

  • Reasonable expenses associated with any court proceedings, including transportation, food and lodging

Please note, however, that it is illegal to offer or to accept money or anything of value in exchange for the adoptive placement of a child.

How does adoption consent work in Maryland?

In Maryland, the birth parents can consent to a child’s adoption at any point after birth. The consent must:

  • Be given in a language the party speaks. If it is anything other than English, then consent must be given before a judge or come with a record that the translation of the document is accurate.

  • Name the child and identify the prospective adoptive parents.

  • Come with a notice of the procedures of revoking consent as well as the rights of adopted persons to search for their birth parents.

  • If the person consenting is a minor or has a disability, the consent must be accompanied by an affidavit stating the birth parent is consenting knowingly and voluntarily.

Consent must be given by the birth mother and father, or the head of an agency or department of social services if the birth parents’ rights have already been terminated.

Does Maryland have a putative father registry?

Yes, Maryland does have a putative father registry, or a paternity registry, that allows men to voluntarily acknowledge their alleged paternity of a child born outside of marriage. If a father voluntarily acknowledges his paternity, he will have parental rights to the child. 

Who must have a completed adoption home study in Maryland?

Everyone who hopes to adopt a child must complete an adoption home study before they will be eligible to do so.

To learn more about adoption laws in Maryland, call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION. 





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