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Understanding Adoption Cases

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a legal process to seek the Court’s decree to accept a child not born to you into your family, enabling the child to have the same legal rights as a child by birth and have a birth certificate with your name listed as the parent. Adults can be adopted as well.

Adoption can be a complex legal matter. An attorney’s services in guiding a family through the adoption process can be extremely helpful.

NOTE: The Court does not provide adoption forms. Adoption can be a complex legal matter, and you may need an experienced attorney to handle your petition for adoption.

Basic Steps in Adoption Cases

Individuals who wish to adopt a child must file a Petition for Adoption. The parents and/or guardians of the child must be notified of the adoption and either consent to the adoption or be served with a show cause order. They have the right to file an objection to the adoption in the Court if they do not agree. The judge will hold an adoption hearing prior to entering a judgment of adoption.

Parents sitting with adopted child

How do I change the name of my adopted child?

Maryland Rules of Procedure, Title 9. Family Law Actions, Chapter 100. Adoption, Guardianship Terminating Parental Rights, § 9-101 to 9-103

Maryland Code, Family Law, Title 5. Children

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Adoption

If you want to know whether you were adopted in Montgomery County, you must provide the year of the adoption and the name of your adoptive parent(s).

The location of the adoption file depends on the year the adoption became final:

  • Adoptions finalized before 1947 are not sealed and are listed alphabetically by year in the Equity & Law docket books housed in the Circuit Court’s Land Records Department.
  • Adoptions filed from 1947-1992 are sealed and may not be accessed by the public. However, adoptees may be given confirmation that they were adopted in Montgomery County, and their file number may be given to the petitioner(s) and adoptee ONLY.
  • After 1992, legislation about adoptions changed, and a law was passed stating that the public could have access to specific information if it was furnished separately from the adoption files. The petitioner(s) and adoptee may request a certified copy of the final adoption decree, but the Court will not release information to anyone on their behalf. To do so, they first need to file a motion with the Family Department to unseal the case.

The Court cannot release any information on birth parents to an adoptee. If an adoptee wishes to find his/her birth parents, he/she must contact the Department of Human Resources at 1-800-39ADOPT. The Department of Human Resources will put the adoptee in contact with a Certified Confidential Intermediary.

Certified Confidential Intermediaries have access to adoption files, and they conduct reviews and release non-identifying information to adoptees. The Court can release non-identifying information the intermediary releases if the birth parents did not file a veto when consenting to the adoption of their child.

No, Maryland does not require adoptive parents to re-adopt children they have legally adopted in a foreign country. However, many adoptive parents choose to re-adopt their foreign-born children. If adoptive parents have a foreign adoption decree and are US citizens, they can get a Maryland birth certificate for the adopted children without re-adopting them.

The adoptive parent(s) must re-adopt foreign-born children when they have a wrong visa or if the foreign country only allowed the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship. The adoptive parents may choose to re-adopt to change the child’s name, because local government (school) requires it, and/or to add a spouse to the order for estate purposes.

Yes. Please submit a motion requesting the return of your originals and a proposed order for the judge to sign. Original documents submitted to the Court will be returned to you after the completion of the final hearing.

 

Adoption Filing Fees

$165.00 cash, money order, or check (payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.

Additional Adoption Resources

The Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager reviews all initial pleadings in adoptions filed in the Court, including adoption petitions filed in the Juvenile Court as a result of terminations of parental rights in abuse/neglect cases. She assists attorneys and petitioners in completing documents and filings and makes referrals for investigative services where appropriate.

The Adoption Clerk at Montgomery County Circuit Court handles filings of petitions for adoption, including stepparent adoptions, foreign re-adoptions, agency adoptions, independent adoptions, surrogate adoptions, and the termination of parental rights of children (TPR).

For additional information, contact the:

  • Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager, Family Division Services (Phone: 240-777-9119)
  • Adoption Clerk, Family Department (Phone: 240-777-9422)

Additional links to websites outside of the Circuit Court are as follows:

International Adoptions:

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