Adoption is more common than most people think. One out of 25 families with children has at least one child who has been adopted. Also common is single mother motherhood. In fact, 23 percent of children are being raised only by their mother, according to the Census. If you are a single mother or are pregnant, there is an important Maryland law that you must understand before you give a child up for adoption, either to an adoption agency, a family member, or even if the adopting parent is your current husband and you plan to continue being a mother to your child. Adoption is a big decision, and even if a mother feels that the child’s biological father has no right to be a part of that decision, he must still be notified of the mother’s adoption plans.
Two Examples in Which Notifying the Biological Father is Necessary
Biological fathers have a legal right to know about any adoption plans that a mother has for their child. For example, a pregnant teenage mother must inform the biological father about her plans to give the baby up for adoption. This is a legal requirement even if she had only a one-night stand with the biological father and he has made no effort to stay in touch with the mother or participate in the pregnancy. If the mother knows who the biological father is, she must inform him of her adoption plans.
In another example, a mother of a seven-year-old may wish to give legal parenting rights to her current husband, who has helped raise her child for the past four years. It would make sense that her husband would want to become a legal parent by adopting the child considering that he otherwise would have no legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, religion, or schedule. Legal parents have authority to make decisions about their children, while a stepparent without custody has none. The only way that a stepfather would be able to become a legal parent or have custody would be if the biological father gave up his parenting rights. Even if the biological father in this scenario was absent for the entire child’s life, has made no effort to visit or help raise his child, has not made child support payments, and is a convicted felon serving time in prison, the mother is obligated to inform him of her decision to allow her husband to adopt the child. In all scenarios, a biological father must be notified of the mother’s custody plans.
What is Considered “Notification” and How Should it be Done?
Maryland is a “notice state,” where mothers are required to notify a child’s biological father about adoption plans. A notification is best done in writing, but also, an email or text message would suffice. There must be proof that contact was made by the mother. Notification is best done by the mother, not a family member or an attorney.
Interested in Adopting or Giving Up a Child to be Adopted?
Single men and women, families, single sex couples, and seniors are all eligible to adopt children in Maryland. You don’t even have to be a U.S. citizen, but you must be a legal resident. Private agencies typically charge an adoption fee, but the Department of Social Services in Maryland does not charge an adoption fee. To get help with adoption, call Frame and Frame at 410-255-0373 to schedule a free consultation. To visit our website, click here Pasadena family law attorneys.