There are three types of adoptions:

Public Agency Adoption.  This type of adoption case is filed by the department of social services after parental rights have been terminated.

Private Agency Adoption.  This type of adoption case is filed by a private adoption agency who has identified a child available for adoption, and who has identified a family willing and able to adopt the child.

Independent Adoption.  This type of adoption case is usually filed by a private party.  This type of adoption is often filed by a stepparent or co-parent who would like to adopt his or her partner’s child.

In all types of adoption cases, if the natural parents can be found, they will be asked if they consent to the adoption.  If they do not consent, they can file an objection to the adoption.  Thorough investigations may be conducted and many documents must be filed with the court. This allows the court to determine what is best for the child.  The court will hold a hearing and will determine whether to grant the adoption.

Consider Getting a Lawyer. The process and requirements in adoption cases are extremely complex.  Consider having a lawyer represent you if you are thinking about filing an independent adoption, or an adoption in a Maryland court that involves a child who is not a citizen of the United States. A legal adoption process in Maryland does not automatically result in permanent resident or citizen status for a foreign born child.

For more information about adoption laws and procedures, see the People's Law Library section on Adoption.

You May Have a Right to A Lawyer. In some adoption cases, you may have a right to a lawyer.

Parents. Parents may have a right to a lawyer if they cannot afford one. An attorney will be appointed for them in cases where the state is seeking to terminate their parental rights, or in public agency adoptions where their rights have not yet been terminated and the agency is seeking their consent. In private agency adoptions, the court is required to appoint a lawyer, regardless of income, for a parent who is a minor, or who has a disability that would make it difficult to represent themselves.

Children. Children have a right to have a court-appointed lawyer of their own in termination of parental rights cases. This is usually the same lawyer who represented the child in the original child abuse or neglect case. In a private agency adoption, the child has a right to have a lawyer if the child is at least 10 years old and is either a minor or has a disability. In independent adoptions, the child has a right to a lawyer if he or she is at least 10 years old and has a disability.