A. Agency adoption in Maryland is conducted through either public child placing agencies (e.g. county department of social services) or private agencies (licensed child-placing agencies privately owned and operated). Residents of Maryland may work with public and private agencies located in Maryland or ones operating outside of the state.
B. In an agency adoption, a birth parent relinquishes his or her parental rights to the adoption agency by executing a consent in favor of the agency. The agency then places the child for adoption with adoptive parents selected by either the birth parent or the agency.
Following a required post-placement supervision period, the agency gives its consent to the adoption to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents proceed to finalize their adoption by filing a petition for adoption in the circuit court in the county where they reside.
During the period of post-placement supervision following the placement of the child, the agency retains legal custody of the child while the adoptive parents have physical custody. In the majority of agency adoption placements, either public or private, the child is placed directly with the adoptive parents following his or her birth. However, a newborn child may be placed in foster care during the period of time that the parental rights of the birth parents are being terminated.
C. The adoption of children who have been placed in foster care is conducted as an agency adoption. In those cases, the county department of social services acts in its capacity as a public child placing agency and works to terminate the parental rights of the biologic parents. The agency may then place the child for adoption with an existing foster family or another family selected to adopt the child.
D. In Maryland, the legal procedures for carrying out an agency adoption are found in the Family Law Article.
A birth parent wishing to place a child for adoption through an adoption agency must execute a consent to guardianship which permits the agency to ask the court to grant the agency guardianship with the right to consent to adoption.
A consent to guardianship is revocable for 30 days after it is signed. When the court grants the guardianship, the parental rights of the birth parents are terminated.
The above procedures put the agency in the position where the agency can give the adoptive parents a consent to adoption.
E. Adoptive parents who receive a child through a Maryland adoption agency should file a petition for adoption in the circuit court in their county of residence.
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