Maryland Adoption Laws and Policies

Who can adopt in Maryland?

Any adult may adopt. A married couple must adopt jointly, unless the spouse is legally separated from the adopting spouse, is deemed incompetent, or is the child’s parent and approves of the adoption.

Maryland Domestic Adoption Laws

Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes.

Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? Yes.

Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? No.

What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Reasonable and customary medical and legal expenses may be paid, as well as costs for adoption related counseling. In addition, as of 2013, prospective adoptive parents may also pay reasonable expenses for:

  • transportation for medical care associated with the pregnancy or birth of the child;
  • food, clothing, and shelter for a birth mother, if, on written advice of a physician, the birth mother is unable to work or otherwise support herself because of medical reasons associated with the pregnancy or birth of the child;
  • any required court appearance relating to the adoption, including transportation, food, and lodging expenses.

There is no particular time limit, but a reasonableness standard is likely to be considered by the court

Is there a putative father registry? No.

When can consent to adoption be granted? Any time after birth (although common practice is to wait at least 24 hours).

When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? 30 days after signing. Return is automatic.

Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Yes, the court will enforce a written agreement if it is in the best interest of the child.

Maryland International Adoption Laws

Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? Yes, as long as the adoption decree is issued under due process of law.

Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Parents are not required to readopt in Maryland if the child was adopted under due process of law and if the child was issued an IR-3 visa by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? The Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene will issue a certificate of foreign birth upon receipt of a certified copy of the adoption decree (and translation if necessary), proof of the DOB and place of birth of the child, proof of the child’s IR-3 visa status, proof that the adopting parent/s reside in Maryland, and a request for the certificate from the court, the adopting parents, or the child if s/he is 18 years or older.

Adoption from Foster Care in Maryland

Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, adoption subsidies are available to a special needs child, who is defined as having at least one of the following: between 6 and 18 years of age, of a minority racial or ethnic background (although this must be paired with another special need), member of a sibling group of two or more children being placed together, has or is at high risk of developing a physical or mental condition or disease, or has an emotional disturbance. In some cases, assistance is granted to adopting parents with limited financial means.

Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in Maryland?

Maryland Open Records Statutes

Is there an adoption registry? Yes, the Maryland Social Services Administration maintains a Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry.

Who may access information about an adoption? Birth parents and siblings and adoptees age 21 or older (as long as he or she does not have a birth sibling under the age of 21 with the same adoptive parents) may register for the exchange of identifying information. Adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents may request nonidentifying and medical information.

Who may apply for an adoptee’s original birth certificate (OBC)? For adoptions finalized on or after January 1, 2000, an adopted person who is 21 years or older or the birth parent of an adoptee 21 or older may apply to the secretary for an OBC.


Program Manager: Brandi Stocksdale

3311 West Saratoga Street
5th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201
Toll-Free: (410) 767-7561
Fax: (410) 333-6556


DISCLAIMER: The state laws and policies outlined above are offered to readers only for general information and do not constitute legal advice. Furthermore, the state laws were accurate at the time of compilation, but The Current Initiative cannot guarantee that there have been no subsequent changes or revisions to the laws. Please do not rely on the information above without first consulting an adoption attorney licensed in your state. Updated in January 2017.