To some hopeful families, the unknowns of adoption can be overwhelming. There are numerous questions running through their minds. How do I adopt a baby in Maryland? How long does it take? Is it expensive? How do I even begin the process? These are all great questions and we will do our best to address these and more throughout this article.
How Do I Adopt a Baby in Maryland?
Step 1 – Choose an Adoption Agency
The biggest decision you have to make after choosing to adopt is finding the right adoption agency. You can work with a large, national firm or a smaller, local adoption agency. The latter has several benefits, says Jessie McNaughton, Family Connections, Inc.
- They connect you with local birth mothers. “In an open adoption, this makes visits easier,” says McNaughton.
- They know local state laws. Adoption laws vary from state to state, and a local Maryland adoption agency should be intimately familiar with specific state laws.
Step 2 – The Home Study Process
Adoption Makes Family has been doing home studies for over 10 years and we approach our home studies with the philosophy of screening families in, rather than out, of the adoption process. The home study helps you learn more about adoption and what it will mean to you as you become an adoptive family.
“It involves things like a background check, a family history, a doctor’s clearance, and a few interviews to make sure you’re a good person,” explains Collin Rainey. “And yes, there’s also the in-home meeting.” A social worker will visit the family’s home, interview family members and their references, as well as review the family’s financial history, to assess their suitability for adoption. The whole process typically takes about 90 days.
Step 3 – The Matching and Placement Process
- Create a Birth Parent Book: The matching and placement phase can be full of ups and downs for you. To start this phase, Adoption Makes Family asks you to create a Birth Parent Book. This book is about you and your family and is a way for you to reach out to a potential birth parent as an introduction. We encourage you to create a book that shows the birth parent who you are and what becoming an adoptive family means to you. “Your [birth parent book] is the most important marketing tool you have to connect with an expectant mother who is facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption for her baby,” says Russell Elkins, adoption professional.
- Meet the Birth Parents (Maybe): In many situations, birth parents choose to meet the adoptive family. Adoption Makes Family will help you through this delicate part of the process. Your adoption counselor will be present for this meeting to help you and the birth parents come to know each other, talk about your respective adoption journeys, and start a relationship that will lead to a loving adoption plan.
- Be Patient: “I tell people it can be days, months or years,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C.
How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Baby in Maryland?
The answer is…it’s tricky. “I have no idea,” admits Dr. Kirschner. The process truly is different for everyone. And it’s a lengthy process. According to the California Department of Social Services, “it will take anywhere from six months to a year to complete an adoption family assessment.” After that, placement can occur. However, this often takes anywhere from one to several months following the family assessment. So, in the end, “the wait is typically between two and seven years for a healthy infant,” according to the National Adoption Center. Though some adoptions can be much quicker.
Even after placement, birth parents have 30 days to change their mind. If a birth parent expresses an uncertainty about the adoption plan, Adoption Makes Family has a Cradle Care family who cares for the baby during this 30 day period. While there is no way to completely remove the emotional pain associated with a changed adoption plan, having the baby cared for by a surrogate family for a short time is one small effort we make to help adoptive families through this difficult part of the journey.
What Are the Requirements to Adopt in Maryland?
Here are some of the requirements for adoption in Maryland:
- For domestic adoptions, you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen, but must be a legal resident in the country.
- The minimum age a parent must be to adopt a child is 21 years old.
- Married persons must act jointly unless legally separated.
- Single persons are also eligible to adopt.
- Same sex couple may adopt in Maryland. Adoption Makes Family is proud of our commitment to helping every loving couple realize their dream of parenthood.
- If the crime was violent or involved a minor (child under the age of 18), it is unlikely that a person would meet Maryland adoption qualifications.
- Families must complete a minimum of 27 hours of training, as well as a home study. A social worker will visit the family’s home, interview family members and their references, as well as review the family’s financial history, to assess their suitability for adoption.
- You must prove you are financially capable of adopting and raising a child.
How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Baby in Maryland?
Here in Maryland, the average cost of adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 and varies depending upon the circumstances of the adoption.
- Birth Mother Costs: In Maryland, House Bill 563, signed into law in 2013 by Governor Martin O’Malley, allows adoptive families to help cover certain expenses, including all medical expenses and hospital costs, all legal expenses, reasonable charges or fees for adoption counseling, reasonable expenses for transportation for medical care, reasonable expenses associated with any required court appearances relating to the adoption, and, in some circumstances, living expenses.
- Adoption Placement Fees: Adoption Makes Family uses a sliding scale for the adoption placement fees based on several factors, including household income. You may contact Adoption Makes Family to learn where you are on the sliding scale.
A Maryland Adoption Agency That Cares
If you are still trying to answer the question, “How do I adopt a baby in Maryland?” Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. The professionals at Adoption Makes Family have many years of experience in adoption services, helping couples and singles explore their options for creating or growing their family.
The adoption process begins with a telephone call to one of our staff who will advise you on the steps necessary.
24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100
Each social worker is highly trained and experienced to assist prospective adoptive parents, providing counseling, adoption education and placement services. Our primary goal is to help you through the process, making it more manageable and a reality. Prospective adoptive parents can expect our dedicated professionals to guide them through the process of exploring adoption, fulfilling the requirements necessary for adoption, and beginning their adoption search.
If you need help answering the question “How Do I Adopt a Baby In Maryland?” you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.