Many situations can present an opportunity to adopt a child in this ever changing world. The deaths of parents often result in an adoption by a family member, also known as a kinship adoption. Children given up by their biological parents, or who have been removed by the state and placed in the foster care system, may become part of another family when a kinship adoption is not suitable.
Adoptions may be open or closed. An open adoption allows the potential for contact between the biological parents and either the adoptive parents, or child, based on the parties’ agreement. A closed adoption will effectively cut all ties between the previous parents and the child’s new family to eliminate any confusion for the child, or interference that could hinder bonding of the new family unit.
Regardless of the type of adoption, the court will always consider what is in the child’s best interests, and has the authority to make changes accordingly.
The purpose of Maryland adoption laws is to ensure that the child’s best interest are served by being placed with a prospective parent who is fit for the responsibility. Some ways the laws attempt to do this include:
- Trying to keep biological parents and children together, though that isn’t always possible.
- Preventing parents from giving up their legal rights to their children without taking time to think it through.
- Protecting prospective adoptive parents by providing them information about the child, and ensuring their relationship with that child will not be disrupted by the former parents.
Whatever the scenario that brought a great prospective parent and adoptive child together, there are times when the adoption process is halted.
Why an adoption may not go forward
If the biological parents’ rights have not previously been legally terminated by the state, or voluntarily by the parents themselves, written consents to relinquish those rights have to be obtained before an adoption can be granted.
Because consent to adopt a child may only be given after the child has been born, a pregnant mother who chooses a family to adopt her child has a right to change her mind and stop the adoption proceedings. Even if the biological parents have already consented after birth, they have a 30-day window of time to think about their decision, and may change their minds when confronted with the reality of losing a child.
If the prospective adoptee is a minor child, or cannot participate in the adoption process due to another disability, an attorney must be appointed to represent him or her. Failure to appoint an attorney typically delays the adoption process until the conditions are met. However, there is always the chance that the biological parents could regret their choice and withdraw consent in the interim.
The possibility also exists that a biological father, who has been absent from the child’s life, or did not know that he had a child until the adoption process began, suddenly comes forward. This can result in the father refusing to consent to the adoption, and possibly retaining custody, or may merely cause a delay until the proper written consent is obtained.
Another unforeseen problem with consent can arise in adoptions when the presumed biological father is found to be a mistake. The adoption cannot proceed without making attempts to locate the true biological father, which again, can result in either obtaining consent to adopt, or losing a child you already feel is part of your family.
Less often, an adoption falls through over a legal or administrative technicality. Errors in obtaining signed forms, or failing to follow proper procedure based on the type of adoption, can hold up the process. Adoption is stressful for prospective parents, who are nervous that they could be forced to walk away without a child to whom they already feel emotionally connected.
If you are seeking to adopt a child, unnecessary time spent waiting for finalization of an adoption has the ability to cause devastating consequences for everyone involved.
Minimize your risk of heartache by hiring an adoption lawyer who knows what you will be going through, and will take every available precaution to ensure the process goes smoothly. Consult with the understanding attorneys of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC to help you plan for the best, and prepare for the unexpected considerations of adoption. To speak with an Annapolis adoption attorney, we may be reached through our contact page, or by phone at 410-921-2422.