• MARCH 15, 2024

Adoption Laws in Maryland

If you’re considering putting your child up for adoption in Maryland, it’s important to know the laws involved at each stage of the adoption process. In this article, we will help break them down for you as simply as possible.

Types of Adoptions in Maryland

There are 3 types of adoptions under Maryland law available for you to choose from: public agency adoptions, private agency adoptions, and independent adoptions. 

Public Agency Adoption

With Public Agency adoption, you waive all parental rights, and the child is placed under the care of the state. The Maryland Department of Social Services files this case on your behalf.

Private Agency Adoption

When you choose Private Agency adoption, you partner with an agency like A Baby Step Adoption to help guide you through the adoption process. The agency you choose will help you plan your hospital trip, will help you find adoptive parents that you feel a connection with, and will make sure you are set with everything you need, all on your terms.

Independent Adoption

In independent adoptions, a child’s biological parent and a potential adoptive parent arrange the adoption, sometimes with lawyers. If the child’s mother disagrees, the court will only approve the adoption if the adoptive parent has cared for the child for over 180 days and has a strong emotional bond. The court also checks if the biological parent hasn’t contacted or supported the child, has abused the child, or has serious criminal convictions. These factors are considered in the court decision.

Adoption Laws For Maryland Birth Parents

If you decide to put your baby up for adoption, a lawyer will file the Petition for Adoption on your behalf. If you have opted for a Public Agency adoption, the court will schedule a status conference to inform you on the status of your petition within 60 days after filing. 

Once the petition is officially filed, the court will hold a hearing during which the judge will decide whether to approve or deny the petition. If approved, you will be able to terminate your parental rights and put your baby up for adoption any time afterwards. 

Birth Mother Rights in Open and Closed Adoptions

In the case of an open adoption, in which you as the birth mother would like to be able to keep some contact with your baby’s new adoptive family, you can create a legally binding document under Maryland law that ensures you can have as much contact as you would like. Once drawn up, that contract is enforceable in perpetuity, unless the adoptive family files a motion to have it dismissed. 

If you choose a closed adoption, in which you have no contact with the adoptive parents or your baby moving forward, you terminate all parental rights immediately. This is certainly a valid option if that is what you feel is right for you, however, be very sure that is what you want before making that decision. Once you select a closed adoption, there is no legal way to open it.

Financial Support for Birth Mothers in Maryland

The state of Maryland allows for several of the birth mother’s financial burdens to be relieved by the adoptive parents, including but not limited to:

  • 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

However, these financial arrangements are terminated as soon as the adoption of the child is complete. Plus, it is strictly illegal for money to be exchanged to influence the birth mother to adopt with a particular set of parents. 

Birth Father Rights

Under Maryland law, there are provisions in place to protect the rights of the birth father as well.

If You Know the Birth Father

If you know who the biological father of the baby is and are able to get in touch with him, you are legally obligated to inform him about the pregnancy and your plans to have the baby put up for adoption. Once informed, the birth father will have to agree to the adoption, and waive his parental rights after the baby is born.

If You Don’t Know Who The Birth Father Is

If the identity of the birth father is not known to you, or if it may be one of several different people, an adoption attorney will help you attempt to contact any potential candidates you might be able to think of. This step is required for a court to approve your petition for adoption, and an adoption agency or attorney will be helpful at this stage.

If the birth father(s) doesn’t respond to you or your attorney within 30 days of being notified, the birth father(s) will have their parental rights automatically waived, and you can continue with your adoption plan.

Home Study

In Maryland, a home evaluation is required for all prospective adoptive parents before the adoption can be completed. This home study makes sure that their living situation is stable, safe, and can adequately support and accommodate a new child. This will also give you peace of mind as the birth mother – knowing that your baby is entering a safe, loving environment. 


No matter what your reasons are for looking into adoption, you can have any and all questions answered by reaching out to the experts at A Baby Step Adoption. We can help provide guidance, support, and most importantly, the care you need when embarking on such an impactful stage of your life.