Although our laws have, historically, been based on a married man and a woman playing the role of the father and mother of a child, our culture is changing, and our ideas of what makes a family are evolving. Sometimes, the laws catch up quickly; sometimes, they do not.
The good news is that Maryland offers a number of ways to grow and protect your family. We wanted to explore some of the different adoption options for parents, so you can make the best possible choices for your future.
Second parent adoption
Second parent adoption allows a non-biological parent to have legal rights to a child. Even though marriage equality is the law of the land, and has been for years, LGBTQ couples still face potential problems – especially in other states which may try to circumvent the laws, or which do not accept de facto parenting. A second parent adoption can protect everyone.
For example, if a same-sex couple has a child together, and the biological parent dies unexpectedly or the couple divorces, the non-biological parent may be denied his or her parental rights. The same is true if a person adopts a child and then gets married, and the spouse does not also adopt the child. Seeking a second parent adoption gives the non-biological parent the same rights and responsibilities regarding custody and visitation.
A stepparent adoption is a way to formalize the parent-child relationship in a family where one parent has remarried. It offers many benefits for both the second spouse and the child; not only will you have equal legal rights when it comes to raising the child, but it may make inheritance easier for the child, because it eliminates a potential contest during probate. It also allows your child to benefit from your insurance policies and Social Security. Another added benefit is that your entire family will share the same last name.
If the child’s other biological parent is still alive, you must have his or her consent to move forward with this type of adoption. This requires the other parent to give up his or her parental rights. Finally, if the child is older than 10, you may also need his or her permission to adopt.
Adult adoption may not be as well-known, but it is legal in Maryland. It offers all of the same benefits that any adoption would – inheritance, name changes, solidifying family bonds – but it also allows the adult child to make important medical decisions on behalf of the parent, when necessary. Many times, adult adoption occurs in families where a foster child aged-out of the system before he or she could be adopted, and in families where a stepparent could not legally adopt the child.
By adopting an adult child, you are taking on this responsibility for his or her care. This means you can set up trusts and powers of attorney, and create a path forward for your loved one. It also grants you the right to appoint a guardian for the adult child in the event of your death.
No matter what kind of adoption is best for you, you are going to need an adoption attorney to help guide you through the process. At Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, our family law attorneys advocate for you and your family in all aspects of family law. To schedule an initial consultation at our office in Annapolis, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form.