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Child Adoption Laws
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Child Adoption Laws
Maryland


We hope to help you learn more about the child adoption laws in the State of Maryland.  Please note that while we have tried to be as current as possible, laws are occasionally rewritten and/or amended; accordingly, the Maryland adoption law provided below may have errors, omissions, or may not be the most current version. Please remember that this information should not be used as the basis for making any legal decision. Please use appropriate resources and an attorney's advice when making legal decisions.

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Maryland Government Law Site

Maryland Adoption Law and Statute
Maryland Statutes
Family Law
Title 5: Children
Subtitles 1- 3B

(This page was last updated on 09/10/13.)

SUBTITLE 1. DEFINITIONS

§ 5-101. Definitions

   (a) In general. -- In this title the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Adoptive parent. -- "Adoptive parent" means an individual who completes adoption of another individual.

(c) Child placement agency. -- "Child placement agency" means:

   (1) a local department; or

   (2) a private agency that is licensed by the Social Services Administration of the Department under § 5-507 of this title, or by a comparable governmental unit of another state, to place children.

(d) Crime of violence. -- "Crime of violence":

   (1) has the meaning stated in § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article; or

   (2) as to a crime committed in another state, means a crime that, if committed in this State, would be a crime of violence as defined in § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article.

(e) Department. -- "Department" means the State Department of Human Resources.

(f) Disability. -- "Disability" means:

   (1) alcohol dependence, as defined in § 8-101 of the Health - General Article;

   (2) drug dependence, as defined in § 8-101 of the Health - General Article;

   (3) a mental disorder, as defined in § 10-101 of the Health - General Article; or

   (4) intellectual disability, as defined in § 7-101 of the Health - General Article.

SUBTITLE 2. PARENT AND CHILD

§ 5-201. Scope of subtitle

   This subtitle does not affect any law that relates to the appointment of a third person as guardian of the person of a minor child because:

   (1) the child's parents are unsuitable; or

   (2) the child's interest would be affected adversely if the child remains under the natural guardianship of either of the child's parents.

§ 5-202. Child of void marriage

   When a criminal or equity court of this State annuls a marriage, or when an equity court of this State decrees an absolute divorce for a reason that makes the marriage void ab initio, the court in the decree shall declare each child of the marriage to be a legitimate child of the parties to the marriage.

§ 5-203. Natural guardianship; powers and duties of parents; support obligations of grandparents; award of custody to parent

   (a) Natural guardianship. --

   (1) The parents are the joint natural guardians of their minor child.

   (2) A parent is the sole natural guardian of the minor child if the other parent:

      (i) dies;

      (ii) abandons the family; or

      (iii) is incapable of acting as a parent.

(b) Powers and duties of parents. -- The parents of a minor child, as defined in Article 1, § 24 of the Code:

   (1) are jointly and severally responsible for the child's support, care, nurture, welfare, and education; and

   (2) have the same powers and duties in relation to the child.

(c) Support obligations of grandparents. -- If one or both parents of a minor child is an unemancipated minor, the parents of that minor parent are jointly and severally responsible for any child support for a grandchild that is a recipient of temporary cash assistance to the extent that the minor parent has insufficient financial resources to fulfill the child support responsibility of the minor parent.

(d) Award of custody to parent. --

   (1) If the parents live apart, a court may award custody of a minor child to either parent or joint custody to both parents.

   (2) Neither parent is presumed to have any right to custody that is superior to the right of the other parent.

§ 5-204. Domicile of minor child

   (a) In general. --

   (1) If a minor child has only 1 parent, the domicile of the child is the same as that of the parent.

   (2) If the parents of a minor child live together, and the child lives with them, the domicile of the child is the same as that of the parents.

(b) Domicile of minor child if parents live apart. -- If the parents of a minor child live apart, the domicile of the child is the same as that of:

   (1) the parent to whom custody is awarded; or

   (2) if custody has not been awarded, the parent with whom the child lives.

(c) Domicile of minor child not living with parent. -- If a minor child does not live with either parent, the domicile of the child is the same as that of the person who acts in the capacity of a parent.

§ 5-205. Right to services and earnings of minor child

   One parent, to the exclusion of the other parent, is entitled to the services and earnings of a minor child if:

   (1) that parent has been awarded custody of the child; or

   (2) the other parent has abandoned the child or is dead.

§ 5-206. Right to sue for seduction or wrongful injury of minor child


   (a) Parent's right to sue. -- One parent, to the exclusion of the other parent, may sue for the loss of services and earnings of the parent's minor child if:

   (1) the loss was caused by:

      (i) the seduction of the child; or

      (ii) an injury wrongfully or negligently inflicted on the child; and

   (2) that parent has been awarded custody of the child or the other parent has abandoned the child or is dead.

(b) Scope of section. -- This section does not affect any provision of the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act.

SUBTITLE 3. GUARDIANSHIP TO AND ADOPTION THROUGH LOCAL DEPARTMENT

§ 5-301. Definitions

   (a) In general. -- In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Caregiver. -- "Caregiver" means a person with whom a child resides and who exercises responsibility for the welfare of the child.

(c) Child. -- "Child" means an individual who is the subject of a guardianship or adoption petition under this subtitle.

(d) Guardianship. -- "Guardianship" means an award, under this subtitle, of any power of a guardian.

(e) Identifying information. -- "Identifying information" means information that reveals the identity or location of an individual.

(f) Parent. --

   (1) "Parent" means an individual who, at the time a petition for guardianship is filed under this subtitle or at any time before a court terminates the individual's parental rights:

      (i) meets a criterion in § 5-306(a) of this subtitle; or

      (ii) is the mother.

   (2) "Parent" does not include an individual whom a court has adjudicated not to be a father or mother of a child.

(g) Party. -- "Party" means:

   (1) in a guardianship case under this subtitle:

      (i) the child;

      (ii) except as provided in § 5-326(a)(3)(iii) of this subtitle, the child's parent; and

      (iii) the local department to which the child is committed;

   (2) in an adoption case under Part III of this subtitle:

      (i) the child;

      (ii) the child's parent; and

      (iii) the individual seeking adoption;

   (3) in an adoption case under Part IV of this subtitle:

      (i) the child; and

      (ii) the individual seeking adoption; and

   (4) if express reference is made to a CINA case, a governmental unit or person defined as a party in § 3-801 of the Courts Article.

§ 5-302. Scope of subtitle

   (a) Proceedings. -- This subtitle applies only to:

   (1) guardianship of an individual who is committed to a local department as a child in need of assistance;

   (2) adoption of an individual who is committed to a local department as a child in need of assistance, without prior termination of parental rights as to the individual; and

   (3) adoption of an individual under guardianship under this subtitle.

(b) Prior filings. -- This subtitle:

   (1) does not apply to a guardianship case filed on or before December 31, 2005, until guardianship is granted; and

   (2) unless otherwise specified, does not apply to an adoption case filed on or before December 31, 2005.

§ 5-303. Statement of findings; purposes

   (a) Statement of findings. -- The General Assembly finds that the policies and procedures of this subtitle are desirable and socially necessary.

(b) Purposes. -- The purposes of this subtitle are to:

   (1) timely provide permanent and safe homes for children consistent with their best interests;

   (2) protect children from unnecessary separation from their parents;

   (3) ensure adoption only by individuals fit for the responsibility;

   (4) protect parents from making hurried or ill-considered agreements to terminate parental rights;

   (5) protect prospective adoptive parents by giving them information about children and their backgrounds; and

   (6) protect adoptive parents from future disturbances of their relationships with children by former parents.

§ 5-304.

This subtitle is related to and should be read in relation to Subtitle 5 of this title.

§ 5-305. Foreign orders

   (a) "Order" defined. -- In this section, "order" includes any action that, under the laws of another jurisdiction, has the force and effect of a comparable judicial order under this subtitle.

(b) Order of another state. -- In accordance with the United States Constitution, this State shall accord full faith and credit to:

   (1) an order of another state as to adoption or guardianship in compliance with the other state's laws; and

   (2) termination of parental rights in compliance with the other state's laws.

(c) Other foreign orders. -- As to a jurisdiction other than a state:

   (1) an order for adoption or guardianship entered in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws shall have the same legal effect as an order for adoption or guardianship entered in this State; and

   (2) termination of parental rights in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws shall have the same legal effect as termination of parental rights in this State.

§ 5-306. Paternity

   (a) In general. -- Unless a court excludes a man as the father of a child, a man is the father if:

   (1) the man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's conception;

   (2) the man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth;

   (3) the man is named as the father on the child's birth certificate and has not signed a denial of paternity;

   (4) the child's mother has named the man as the child's father and the man has not signed a denial of paternity;

   (5) the man has been adjudicated to be the child's father;

   (6) the man has acknowledged himself, orally or in writing, to be the child's father and the mother agrees; or

   (7) on the basis of genetic testing, the man is indicated to be the child's biological father.

(b) Notice and hearing on paternity claim. --

   (1) A petitioner under Part II or Part III of this subtitle shall give a juvenile court notice that a man who is not named in the petition and has not been excluded as a father claims paternity.

   (2) After a request of a party or claimant and before ruling on a petition under Part II or Part III of this subtitle, a juvenile court shall hold a hearing on the issue of paternity.

§ 5-307. Appointed counsel

   (a) Parent. --

   (1) Unless the public defender is required under § 16-204 of the Criminal Procedure Article to provide representation, in a case under Part II or Part III of this subtitle, a juvenile court shall appoint an attorney to represent a parent who:

      (i) has a disability that makes the parent incapable of effectively participating in the case; or

      (ii) when a petition for guardianship or adoption is filed or consent to guardianship or adoption is given, is a minor.

   (2) To determine whether a disability makes a parent incapable of effectively participating in a case, a juvenile court, on its own motion or motion of a party, may order examination of the parent.

(b) Child. --

   (1) In accordance with paragraph (2) of this subsection, in a case under this subtitle, a juvenile court shall appoint an attorney to represent a child.

   (2) Unless a juvenile court finds that it is not in a child's best interests, the juvenile court:

      (i) if the attorney who currently represents the child in a pending CINA case or guardianship case is under contract with the Department to provide services under this subsection, shall appoint that attorney; and

      (ii) if the attorney who currently represents the child is not under contract with the Department, shall strike the appearance of that attorney.

(c) Dual representation. -- An attorney or firm may represent more than one party in a case under this subtitle only if the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct allow.

(d) Compensation. -- An attorney appointed under this section may be compensated for reasonable fees, as approved by a juvenile court.

§ 5-308. Agreement for postadoption contact

   (a) Authorized. --

   (1) A prospective adoptive parent and parent of a prospective adoptee under this subtitle may enter into a written agreement to allow contact, after the adoption, between:

      (i) the parent or other relative of the adoptee; and

      (ii) the adoptee or adoptive parent.

   (2) An adoptive parent and former parent of an adoptee under this subtitle may enter into a written agreement to allow contact between:

      (i) a relative or former parent of the adoptee; and

      (ii) the adoptee or adoptive parent.

(b) Construction of agreement. -- An agreement made under this section applies to contact with an adoptee only while the adoptee is a minor.

(c) Dissemination; redaction. -- An individual who prepares an agreement described in subsection (a)(1) of this section:

   (1) shall provide a copy to each party in a case pending as to the prospective adoptee under this subtitle or in a CINA case pending as to the prospective adoptee; and

   (2) if the agreement so provides, shall redact identifying information from the copies.

(d) Effect of noncompliance. -- Failure to comply with a condition of an agreement made under this section is not a ground for revoking consent to, or setting aside an order for, an adoption or guardianship.

(e) Mediation. -- If a dispute as to an agreement made under this section arises, a court may refer the parties to mediation to try to resolve the dispute.

(f) Enforcement. --

   (1) A juvenile court or other court of competent jurisdiction shall enforce a written agreement made in accordance with this section unless enforcement is not in the adoptee's best interests.

   (2) If a party moves in juvenile court or another court of competent jurisdiction to modify a written agreement made in accordance with this section and satisfies the court that modification is justified because an exceptional circumstance has arisen and the court finds modification to be in an adoptee's best interests, the court may modify the agreement.

§ 5-309. Assessment of costs

   A juvenile court may assign counsel fees and costs among the parties to a case as the juvenile court considers appropriate and the parties' economic situations allow.

§ 5-310. Appeal

   A party to a case under this subtitle may appeal to the Court of Special Appeals:

   (1) in an interlocutory appeal, from a denial of the right to participate in a guardianship case before entry of an order for guardianship;

   (2) in an interlocutory appeal, from a denial of the right to participate in an adoption case under Part III of this subtitle; or

   (3) from a final order.

§§ 5-311, 5-312.

   Reserved.

PART III. ADOPTION WITHOUT PRIOR TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

§ 5-331. Petition

   (a) Authorized. -- Before termination of parental rights as to a child, a petition for adoption of the child may be filed only as provided in this Part III of this subtitle.

(b) Petitioner. --

   (1) With the consent of the local department with custody of a child, any adult may petition a juvenile court under this Part III of this subtitle to adopt the child.

   (2) If a petitioner under this section is married, the petitioner's spouse shall join in the petition unless the spouse:

      (i) is separated from the petitioner under a circumstance that gives the petitioner a ground for annulment or divorce; or

      (ii) is not competent to join in the petition.

(c) Contents. --

   (1) A petitioner under this section shall attach to a petition:

      (i) for a parent who is dead, a death certificate;

      (ii) for each other parent:

         1. the consent required under this Part III of this subtitle;

         2. an affidavit, by the local department with custody of the child, stating that:

            A. despite reasonable efforts as provided in § 5-316 of this subtitle, the parent cannot be located; and

            B. to the best knowledge of the local department, the parent has not contacted the local department or child for at least 180 days immediately before the filing of the petition; or

         3. if applicable:

            A. proof of guardianship or relinquishment of parental rights granted by an administrative, executive, or judicial body of a state or other jurisdiction; and

            B. certification that the guardianship or relinquishment was granted in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws;

      (iii) each other consent required under § 5-338 of this subtitle;

      (iv) a copy of an agreement, if any, for postadoption contact; and

      (v) a notice of filing that:

         1. states the date on which the petition was filed;

         2. identifies each person whose consent was filed with the petition;

         3. states the obligation of a parent to give the juvenile court and local department notice of each change in the parent's address;

         4. if applicable, states that a postadoption agreement was filed with the petition; and

         5. includes no identifying information that would be in violation of an agreement or consent.

   (2) In addition to a copy of an agreement for postadoption contact, a petitioner shall file the original agreement under seal.

(d) Amended petition. -- If the marital status of a petitioner changes before entry of an order, the petitioner shall amend the petition accordingly.

(e) Assistance from local department. -- The local department with custody of the child shall assist a petitioner in complying with the requirements of this section.

§ 5-332. Parental addresses

   A clerk of a juvenile court shall keep a listing of each address given to the juvenile court for a parent under this Part III of this subtitle.
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§ 5-333. Notice of filing

   (a) Requirement. -- Within 5 days after a petition for adoption of a child is filed under this Part III of this subtitle with a juvenile court, the clerk shall send a copy of the petition, with the notice of filing that was attached to the petition, to:

   (1) the local department with custody of the child;

   (2) each of the child's living parents who has not waived the right to notice;

   (3) each living parent's last attorney of record in the CINA case; and

   (4) the child's last attorney of record in the CINA case.

(b) Method. -- Notice under this section shall be by first-class mail.

(c) Parental address. -- Notice to a parent under this section shall be sent to the parent's last address known to the juvenile court.

§ 5-334. Order to show cause

   (a) Requirement. -- Promptly after a petition for adoption is filed under this Part III of this subtitle, a juvenile court shall issue a show-cause order that requires the party to whom issued to respond as required under the Maryland Rules.

(b) Service. -- On issuance of a show-cause order as to adoption of a child under this section, a petitioner shall serve the order on:

   (1) each of the child's living parents who has not consented to the adoption;

   (2) each living parent's last attorney of record in the CINA case; and

   (3) the child's last attorney of record in the CINA case.

(c) Method. -- Service under this section shall be:

   (1) on a parent, by:

      (i) first-class mail; and

      (ii) 1. personal service; or

         2. certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested; and

   (2) on an attorney, by:

      (i) personal service; or

      (ii) certified mail, return receipt requested.

(d) Parental addresses. -- Service on a parent under this section shall be attempted as provided in § 5-316(d), (e), and (f) of this subtitle

§ 5-335. Hearing on adoption petition

   (a) Requirement. -- A juvenile court shall hold a hearing before entering an order for adoption under this Part III of this subtitle.

(b) Notice. -- Before a hearing under this section, a juvenile court shall give notice to all of the parties.

§ 5-336. Time limits

   (a) Maximum limit. -- Subject to subsection (b) of this section, a juvenile court shall rule on an adoption petition under this Part III of this subtitle promptly but no later than 180 days after the petition is filed.

(b) Minimum limit. -- A juvenile court may not enter an order for adoption of a child under this Part III of this subtitle before the later of:

   (1) 30 days after the birth of the child;

   (2) expiration of the time set for revocation of consent, and not waived, under § 5-339 of this subtitle; or

   (3) expiration of the time to respond to show-cause orders issued under this subtitle.

§ 5-337. Considerations

   (a) In general. -- In ruling on a petition for a child's adoption under this Part III of this subtitle, a juvenile court shall consider:

   (1) any assurance by a local department to fund needed support for the child;

   (2) all factors necessary to determine the child's best interests; and

   (3) a report by a child placement agency, completed in accordance with Department regulations, as to:

      (i) the suitability of the petitioner to be the child's parent; and

      (ii) the child's successful placement with the petitioner under the supervision of the local department or its agent for at least 180 days or a shorter period allowed by the juvenile court on recommendation of the local department.

(b) Marital status. -- In ruling on an adoption petition under this Part III of this subtitle, a juvenile court may not deny the petition solely because the petitioner is single or unmarried.

(c) Construction as voluntary. -- If a parent consents to adoption in accordance with § 5-338 of this subtitle, loss of parental rights shall be considered voluntary.

§ 5-338. Authority to grant adoption

   (a) Consent or acquiescence. -- A juvenile court may enter an order for a child's adoption under this Part III of this subtitle only if:

   (1) (i) both the child's parents are dead;

      (ii) an administrative, executive, or judicial body of a state or other jurisdiction has granted a governmental unit or person other than a parent the power to consent to adoption, and the unit or person consents;

      (iii) parental rights have been terminated in compliance with the laws of a state or other jurisdiction, as described in § 5-305 of this subtitle; or

      (iv) 1. at least one of the child's parents:

            A. is represented by an attorney;

            B. has had an opportunity to receive adoption counseling and guidance services; and

            C. consents to the adoption:

               I. in writing; or

               II. knowingly and voluntarily, on the record before the juvenile court; and

         2. the parent who does not consent:

            A. is dead; or

            B. I. despite reasonable efforts as provided in § 5-316 of this subtitle, cannot be located;

               II. has not contacted the local department with custody of the child or the child for at least 180 days immediately before the filing of the petition; and

               III. fails to respond to a show-cause order served under § 5-334 of this subtitle;

   (2) the director of the local department with custody of the child consents; and

   (3) the child:

      (i) is represented by an attorney; and

      (ii) 1. if at least 10 years old, consents; or

         2. if under the age of 10 years, does not object.

(b) "Disability" defined; withholding consent. --

   (1) (i) In this subsection, "disability" means:

         1. a physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness, including epilepsy;

         2. a mental impairment or deficiency;

         3. a record of having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph; or

         4. being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph.

      (ii) "Disability" includes:

         1. any degree of paralysis or amputation;

         2. blindness or visual impairment;

         3. deafness or hearing impairment;

         4. muteness or speech impediment;

         5. physical reliance on a service animal or a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; and

         6. intellectual disability, as defined in § 7-101 of the Health - General Article, and any other mental impairment or deficiency that may have necessitated remedial or special education and related services.

   (2) A local department may not withhold consent for the sole reason that:

      (i) the race, religion, color, or national origin of a prospective adoptive parent differs from that of the child or parent; or

      (ii) a prospective adoptive parent has a disability.

§ 5-339. Consent

   (a) Contents and attachments. --

   (1) Consent of a parent to an adoption under this Part III of this subtitle may include:

      (i) a provision barring a petitioner from learning identifying information about the parent; and

      (ii) a waiver of the right to notice of further proceedings under this Part III of this subtitle.

   (2) Consent to adoption entered into before a judge on the record shall include a waiver of the revocation period.

   (3) Consent of a party to an adoption under this Part III of this subtitle is not valid unless:

      (i) the consent is given in a language that the party understands;

      (ii) if given in a language other than English, the consent:

         1. is given before a judge on the record; or

         2. is accompanied by the affidavit of a translator stating that the translation of the document of consent is accurate;

      (iii) the consent names the child;

      (iv) the consent contains enough information to identify the prospective adoptive parent;

      (v) the party has received written notice or on-the-record notice of:

         1. the revocation provisions in subsections (a)(2) and (b)(1) of this section;

         2. the search rights of adoptees and parents under § 5-359 of this subtitle and the search rights of adoptees, parents, and siblings under Subtitle 4B of this title; and

         3. the right to file a disclosure veto under § 5-359 of this subtitle; and

      (vi) the consent is accompanied by an affidavit of counsel appointed under § 5-307(a) of this subtitle, stating that a parent who is a minor or has a disability consents knowingly and voluntarily.

(b) Revocation by parent. --

   (1) Subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, a parent may revoke consent to adoption under this Part III of this subtitle at any time within the later of:

      (i) 30 days after the parent signs the consent; or

      (ii) 30 days after the adoption petition is filed.

   (2) Consent to adoption under subsection (a)(2) of this section is irrevocable.

(c) Revocation by local department. -- A local department may revoke consent to an adoption under this Part III of this subtitle at any time before a juvenile court enters an order of adoption under this Part III of this subtitle.

(d) Revocation or objection by child. -- A child may revoke consent or object to an adoption under this Part III of this subtitle at any time before a juvenile court enters an order of adoption under this Part III of this subtitle.

§ 5-340. Dismissal

   If a petition for adoption under this Part III of this subtitle is contested, a juvenile court shall dismiss the petition.

§ 5-341. Order for adoption

   (a) Effect on parent-child relationship. --

   (1) This subsection does not limit the right of an individual to provide for distribution of property by will.

   (2) Except as provided in § 2-123 of the Real Property Article, after a juvenile court enters an order for adoption under this Part III of this subtitle:

      (i) the adoptee:

         1. is the child of the adoptive parent for all intents and purposes; and

         2. is entitled to all of the rights and privileges of and is subject to all of the obligations of offspring born to the adoptive parent;

      (ii) each of the adoptee's living parents is:

         1. relieved of all parental duties and obligations to the adoptee; and

         2. divested of all parental rights as to the adoptee; and

      (iii) the Estates and Trusts Article shall govern all of the rights of inheritance between the adoptee and parental relatives.

(b) Effect on pending cases. -- An order for adoption under this Part III of this subtitle terminates all pending CINA cases as to the adoptee.

(c) Adoption of adults. -- Adoption of an adult has the same legal effect as adoption of a minor.

(d) Notice of order. --

   (1) When a juvenile court enters an order for a child's adoption under this Part III of this subtitle, the juvenile court shall send notice to:

      (i) each juvenile court that has a pending CINA case as to the adoptee;

      (ii) each of the child's living, former parents who has not waived the right to notice;

      (iii) each living parent's last attorney of record in the CINA case; and

      (iv) the child's last attorney of record in the CINA case.

   (2) Service on a parent under this subsection shall be at the parent's last address known to the juvenile court.

§ 5-342. Petition to invalidate

   If a petition to invalidate an order for adoption under this Part III of this subtitle on the basis of a jurisdictional or procedural defect is filed more than 1 year after entry of the order, a juvenile court shall dismiss the petition.

PART IV. ADOPTION AFTER TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

§ 5-345. Petition

   (a) Authorized. -- If, after termination of parental rights as to a child, there is an open guardianship case, a petition for adoption of the child may be filed only as provided in this Part IV of this subtitle.

(b) Petitioner. --

   (1) Any adult may petition a juvenile court for an adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle.

   (2) If a petitioner under this section is married, the petitioner's spouse shall join in the petition unless the spouse:

      (i) is separated from the petitioner under a circumstance that gives the petitioner a ground for annulment or divorce; or

      (ii) is not competent to join in the petition.

(c) Contents. --

   (1) A petitioner under this section shall attach to a petition:

      (i) 1. all written consents required under § 5-350 of this subtitle; or

         2. if applicable:

            A. proof of guardianship or relinquishment of parental rights granted by an administrative, executive, or judicial body of a state or other jurisdiction; and

            B. certification that the guardianship or relinquishment was granted in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws;

      (ii) a copy of an agreement, if any, for postadoption contact; and

      (iii) a notice of filing that:

         1. states the date on which the petition was filed;

         2. identifies each governmental unit or person whose consent was filed with the petition;

         3. if applicable, states that a postadoption agreement was filed with the petition; and

         4. includes no identifying information that would be in violation of an agreement or consent.

   (2) In addition to a copy of an agreement for postadoption contact, a petitioner shall file the original agreement under seal.

(d) Amended petition. -- If the marital status of a petitioner changes before entry of an order, the petitioner shall amend the petition accordingly.

§ 5-346. Notice of filing

   (a) Requirement. -- Within 5 days after a petition for adoption of a child is filed under this Part IV of this subtitle with a juvenile court, the clerk shall send a copy of the petition, with the notice of filing that was attached to the petition, to:

   (1) the local department; and

   (2) the child's last attorney of record in the guardianship case.

(b) Method. -- Notice under this section shall be by first-class mail.

§ 5-347. Hearing on adoption petition

   (a) Requirement. -- A juvenile court shall hold a hearing before entering an order for adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle.

(b) Notice. -- Before a hearing under this section, a juvenile court shall give notice to all of the parties.

§ 5-348. Time limits

   (a) Maximum limit. -- Subject to subsection (b) of this section, a juvenile court shall rule on the adoption petition under this Part IV of this subtitle promptly but no later than 180 days after the petition is filed.

(b) Minimum limit. -- A juvenile court may not enter an order for adoption of a child under this Part IV of this subtitle before the later of:

   (1) 30 days after the birth of the child; or

   (2) 10 days after the notice is served under § 5-346 of this subtitle.

§ 5-349. Considerations

   (a) In general. -- In ruling on a petition for a child's adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle, a juvenile court shall consider:

   (1) any assurance by the local department to fund needed support for the child;

   (2) all factors necessary to determine the child's best interests; and

   (3) a report by a child placement agency, completed in accordance with Department regulations, as to:

      (i) the suitability of the petitioner to be the child's parent; and

      (ii) the child's successful placement for adoption with the petitioner under the supervision of the local department or its agent for at least 180 days or a shorter period allowed by the juvenile court on recommendation of the local department.

(b) Marital status. -- In ruling on a petition for adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle, a juvenile court may not deny a petition for adoption solely because the petitioner is single or unmarried.

§ 5-350. Authority to grant adoption

   (a) Consent. -- A juvenile court may enter an order for a child's adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle only if:

   (1) for an individual under the age of 18 years, the individual's guardian consents; and

   (2) for an individual who is at least 10 years old, the individual consents.

(b) "Disability" defined; withholding consent. --

   (1) (i) In this subsection, "disability" means:

         1. a physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness, including epilepsy;

         2. a mental impairment or deficiency;

         3. a record of having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph; or

         4. being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph.

      (ii) "Disability" includes:

         1. any degree of paralysis or amputation;

         2. blindness or visual impairment;

         3. deafness or hearing impairment;

         4. muteness or speech impediment;

         5. physical reliance on a service animal or a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; and

         6. intellectual disability, as defined in § 7-101 of the Health - General Article, and any other mental impairment or deficiency that may have necessitated remedial or special education and related services.

   (2) A guardian may not withhold consent for the sole reason that:

      (i) the race, religion, color, or national origin of a prospective adoptive parent differs from that of the child or parent; or

      (ii) a prospective adoptive parent has a disability.

§ 5-351. Consent

   (a) Consent and attachments. -- Consent of a party to an adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle is not valid unless:

   (1) the consent is given in a language that the party understands;

   (2) if given in a language other than English, the consent:

      (i) is given before a judge on the record; or

      (ii) is accompanied by the affidavit of a translator stating that the translation of the document of consent is accurate;

   (3) the consent names the child;

   (4) the consent contains enough information to identify the prospective adoptive parent; and

   (5) the party has received written notice or on-the-record notice of:

      (i) the revocation provisions in this section;

      (ii) the search rights of adoptees and parents under § 5-359 of this subtitle and the search rights of adoptees, parents, and siblings under Subtitle 4B of this title; and

      (iii) the right to file a disclosure veto under § 5-359 of this subtitle.

(b) Revocation by guardian. -- A guardian may revoke consent to an adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle at any time before a juvenile court enters an order of adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle.

(c) Revocation by child. -- A child may revoke consent to an adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle at any time before a juvenile court enters an order of adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle.

§ 5-352. Order for adoption

   (a) Effect on parent-child relationship. --

   (1) This subsection does not limit the right of an individual to provide for distribution of property by will.

   (2) Except as provided in § 2-123 of the Real Property Article, after a juvenile court enters an order for adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle:

      (i) the adoptee:

         1. is the child of the adoptive parent for all intents and purposes; and

         2. is entitled to all of the rights and privileges of and is subject to all of the obligations of offspring born to the adoptive parent;

      (ii) each of the adoptee's living parents is:

         1. relieved of all parental duties and obligations to the adoptee; and

         2. divested of all parental rights as to the adoptee; and

      (iii) the Estates and Trusts Article shall govern all of the rights of inheritance between the adoptee and parental relatives.

(b) Effect on pending cases. -- An order for adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle terminates all pending guardianship cases as to the adoptee.

(c) Adoption of adult. -- Adoption of an adult has the same legal effect as adoption of a minor.

(d) Notice of order. --

   (1) When a juvenile court enters an order for a child's adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle, the juvenile court shall send notice to:

      (i) each juvenile court that has a pending guardianship case as to the adoptee;

      (ii) each of the child's living, former parents who has not waived the right to notice;

      (iii) the former parent's last attorney of record in the guardianship case; and

      (iv) the child's last attorney of record in the guardianship case.

   (2) Service on a former parent under this subsection shall be at the parent's last address known to the juvenile court.

§ 5-353. Petition to invalidate

   If a petition to invalidate an order for adoption under this Part IV of this subtitle on the basis of a jurisdictional or procedural defect is filed more than 1 year after entry of the order, a juvenile court shall dismiss the petition.

PART V. ACCESS TO RECORDS

§ 5-356. Medical and mental health information

   (a) Compilation of adoptee's records or history. -- A local department shall make reasonable efforts to compile and make available to a prospective adoptive parent:

   (1) all of the prospective adoptee's medical and mental health records that the local department has; or

   (2) a comprehensive medical and mental health history of the prospective adoptee.

(b) Compilation of parental history. -- On request of an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent, a local department shall make reasonable efforts to compile a pertinent medical and mental health history of each of the prospective adoptee's or adoptee's parents or former parents, if available to the local department, and to make the history available to the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent.

(c) Later received information. --

   (1) If, after adoption, a local department receives medical or mental health information about the adoptee or adoptee's former parent, the local department shall make reasonable efforts to make the information available to the adoptive parent.

   (2) If, after adoption, the adoptive parent requests additional information, the local department shall make reasonable efforts to notify the former parent, at the former parent's last known address available to the local department, of the request and the reason for the request.

(d) Exclusion of identifying information. -- A medical or mental health history compiled under this section may not contain identifying information about a parent or former parent.

§ 5-357. Court and department records

   (a) Access. --

   (1) (i) On request of an adoptee or adoptive or former parent of an adoptee and without a showing of a need, a local department shall provide information, other than identifying information, in its adoption record on the adoptee.

      (ii) If a local department denies a request under this paragraph, then on petition of an adoptee or adoptive or former parent and without a showing of need, a juvenile court shall order access for the petitioner to inspect, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the local department's record on the adoptee.

   (2) On petition of an adoptee or adoptive or former parent of an adoptee and without a showing of need, a juvenile court shall order access for the petitioner to inspect, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the juvenile court's record on the adoptee.

(b) Protection of identifying information. -- A juvenile court may not order opened for inspection under this section any part of a record that contains identifying information.

§ 5-358. Urgently needed medical information

   (a) Hearing on need. -- If, after a hearing on a petition of an adoptee or former parent, a juvenile court is satisfied that the adoptee or blood relative of the adoptee or former parent urgently needs medical information not in local department and juvenile court records, the juvenile court may appoint an intermediary to try to contact the adoptee or a former parent of the adoptee for the information.

(b) Role of intermediary. -- An intermediary appointed under this section:

   (1) may only advise an adoptee or former parent of the need for medical information; and

   (2) may not:

      (i) reveal any identifying information about an adoptee or former parent; or

      (ii) try, in any manner, to encourage or discourage contact between an adoptee and former parent.

(c) Report to court. -- An intermediary appointed under this section shall file with the appointing juvenile court a confidential written report on the intermediary's efforts to contact an adoptee or former parent.

(d) Disclosure by court. -- When a juvenile court receives a report from an intermediary, the juvenile court may disclose to the adoptee or former parent, without revealing identifying information about an adoptee or former parent:

   (1) whether the intermediary advised an adoptee or former parent about the need for medical information; and

   (2) medical information that the adoptee or a former parent provided.

(e) Compensation. -- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a juvenile court may order an adoptee or former parent to pay a reasonable fee for the services of an intermediary under this section.

§ 5-359. Vital records

   (a) Definitions. --

   (1) In this section the following words have the meanings stated.

   (2) "Director" means the State Director of Social Services.

   (3) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene.

(b) Scope of section. -- This section applies only to an adoption in which a juvenile court enters an order for adoption on or after January 1, 2000.

(c) Construction of section. -- This section does not bar:

   (1) an adoptee or biological parent from applying for search, contact, and reunion services under Subtitle 4B of this title; or

   (2) the Director or a confidential intermediary from obtaining a copy of a record under § 5-4B-04(c) or § 5-4B-06(b) or (c) of this title.

(d) Application for record. --

   (1) An adoptee who is at least 21 years old may apply to the Secretary for a copy of:

      (i) the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (ii) all records that relate to the adoptee's new certificate of birth, if any; and

      (iii) the report of the adoptee's order of adoption filed by the clerk of court under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article.

   (2) If an adoptee is at least 21 years old, a biological parent of the adoptee may apply to the Secretary for a copy of:

      (i) the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (ii) the new certificate of birth, if any, that was substituted, under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article, for the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (iii) all records that relate to the adoptee's new certificate of birth; and

      (iv) the report of the adoptee's order of adoption filed by the clerk of court under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article.

   (3) Each applicant under this subsection shall:

      (i) provide all proof of identity and other relevant information that the Secretary requires; and

      (ii) pay the fee required under Title 4, Subtitle 2 of the Health - General Article for a copy of a record.

(e) Disclosure veto. --

   (1) A biological parent may:

      (i) file with the Director a disclosure veto, to bar disclosure of information about that parent in a record accessible under this section;

      (ii) cancel a disclosure veto at any time; and

      (iii) refile a disclosure veto at any time.

   (2) An adoptee at least 21 years old may:

      (i) file with the Director a disclosure veto, to bar disclosure of information about the adoptee in a record accessible under this section;

      (ii) cancel a disclosure veto at any time; and

      (iii) refile a disclosure veto at any time.

   (3) Immediately after the Director receives a disclosure veto or cancellation under this subsection, the Director shall forward a copy to the Secretary.

(f) Duties of Secretary. --

   (1) The Secretary shall adopt regulations to carry out this section.

   (2) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subsection, the Secretary shall give to each applicant who meets the requirements of this section a copy of each record that the applicant requested and that the Secretary has on file.

   (3) Whenever a biological parent applies for a record, the Secretary shall redact from the copy all information as to:

      (i) the other biological parent, if that parent has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section; and

      (ii) the adoptee and each adoptive parent, if the adoptee has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section.

   (4) Whenever an adoptee applies for a record, the Secretary shall redact from the copy all information as to a biological parent, if that parent has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section.

   (5) The Secretary shall give each applicant under this section notice of the adoption search, contact, and reunion services available under Subtitle 4B of this title.

§ 5-360. Access for adoptive parent.

   (a) Allowed. -- Subject to subsection (b) of this section, access to a dental or medical record of an adopted minor may not be denied to a parent of the minor because the parent is an adoptive parent.

(b) Limit on identifying information. -- Access to a dental or medical record under this section may not include access to any part of the record that has identifying information as to a former parent of the minor.

PART VI. PROHIBITED ACTS

§ 5-362. Prohibited payments

   (a) Prohibited act. -- Except as otherwise provided by law, a person may not charge or receive, from or for a parent or prospective adoptive parent, any compensation for a service in connection with:

   (1) placement of an individual to live with a preadoptive parent, as defined in § 3-823(i)(1) of the Courts Article; or

   (2) an agreement for custody in contemplation of adoption.

(b) Construction of section. --

   (1) In this subsection, "Administration" means the Social Services Administration of the Department.

   (2) This section does not:

      (i) prohibit payment, by an interested person, of a customary and reasonable charge or fee for hospital, legal, or medical services; or

      (ii) prevent the Administration, or a person that the Administration licenses or supervises, from receiving and accepting reasonable reimbursement for costs of an adoptive service in connection with adoption, if:

         1. the reimbursement is in accordance with standards set by regulation of the Administration; and

         2. the ability to provide this reimbursement does not affect:

            A. the acceptability of any individual for adoptive services; or

            B. the choice of the most suitable prospective adoptive parent.

(c) Duty of State's Attorney. -- Each State's Attorney shall enforce this section.

(d) Penalties. -- A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $ 100 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or both, for each offense.

SUBTITLE 3A. PRIVATE AGENCY GUARDIANSHIP AND ADOPTION

§ 5-3A-01. Definitions

   (a) In general. -- In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Child. -- "Child" means an individual who is the subject of a guardianship or adoption petition under this subtitle.

(c) Guardianship. -- "Guardianship" means an award, under this subtitle, of any power of a guardian.

(d) Identifying information. -- "Identifying information" means information that reveals the identity or location of an individual.

(e) Parent. --

   (1) "Parent" means an individual who, at the time a petition for guardianship or adoption is filed under this subtitle or at any time before a court terminates the individual's parental rights:

      (i) meets a criterion in § 5-3A-06(a) of this subtitle; or

      (ii) is the mother.

   (2) "Parent" does not include an individual whom a court has adjudicated not to be a father or mother.

§ 5-3A-02. Scope of subtitle

   (a) Application. -- This subtitle applies only to:

   (1) guardianship by a child placement agency of a child other than a child in need of assistance; and

   (2) adoption of the child.

(b) Effect. -- Except as expressly provided in this subtitle, this subtitle does not apply to any case pending on or before December 31, 2005.

§ 5-3A-03. Statement of findings; purposes

   (a) Statement of findings. -- The General Assembly finds that the policies and procedures of this subtitle are desirable and socially necessary.

(b) Purposes. -- The purposes of this subtitle are to:

   (1) timely provide permanent and safe homes for children consistent with their best interests;

   (2) protect children from unnecessary separation from their parents;

   (3) ensure adoption only by individuals fit for the responsibility;

   (4) protect parents from making hurried or ill-considered agreements to terminate parental rights;

   (5) protect prospective adoptive parents by providing them information about prospective adoptees and their backgrounds; and

   (6) protect adoptive parents from a future disturbance of their relationship with adoptees by former parents.

§ 5-3A-04. Relationship with Title 5, Subtitle 5

   This subtitle is related to and should be read in relation to Subtitle 5 of this title.

§ 5-3A-05. Foreign orders

   (a) "Order" defined. -- In this section, "order" includes any action that, under the laws of another jurisdiction, has the force and effect of a comparable judicial order under this subtitle.

(b) Order of another state. -- In accordance with the United States Constitution, this State shall accord full faith and credit to:

   (1) an order of another state as to adoption or guardianship in compliance with the other state's laws; and

   (2) termination of parental rights in compliance with the other state's laws.

(c) Other foreign orders. -- As to a jurisdiction other than a state:

   (1) an order for adoption or guardianship entered in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws shall have the same legal effect as an order for adoption or guardianship entered in this State; and

   (2) termination of parental rights in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws shall have the same legal effect as termination of parental rights in this State.

(d) Construction. -- This section may not be construed to require an individual to petition a court in this State for adoption of an adoptee if:

   (1) the individual adopted the adoptee in compliance with the laws of a jurisdiction other than a state; and

   (2) the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services verifies the validity of that adoption by granting, under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, an IR-3 visa for the adoptee.

§ 5-3A-06. Paternity

   (a) In general. -- Unless a court excludes a man as the father of a child, a man is the father if:

   (1) the man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's conception;

   (2) the man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth;

   (3) the man is named as the father on the child's birth certificate and has not signed a denial of paternity;

   (4) the child's mother has named the man as the child's father and the man has not signed a denial of paternity;

   (5) the man has been adjudicated to be the child's father;

   (6) the man has acknowledged himself, orally or in writing, to be the child's father and the mother agrees; or

   (7) on the basis of genetic testing, the man is indicated to be the child's biological father.

(b) Notice and hearing on paternity claim. --

   (1) A petitioner under this subtitle shall give a court notice that a man who is not named in the petition and has not been excluded as a father claims paternity.

   (2) After a request of a party or claimant and before ruling on a petition for guardianship or adoption under this subtitle, a court shall hold a hearing on the issue of paternity.

§ 5-3A-07. Appointed counsel

   (a) Parent. --

   (1) In a case under this subtitle, a court shall appoint an attorney to represent a parent who:

      (i) has a disability that makes the parent incapable of effectively participating in the case; or

      (ii) when the parent must decide whether to consent under this subtitle, is still a minor.

   (2) To determine whether a disability makes a parent incapable of effectively participating in a case, a court, on its own motion or on motion of a party, may order examination of the parent.

(b) Child. --

   (1) In an adoption proceeding under this subtitle, a court shall appoint an attorney to represent a prospective adoptee who:

      (i) is at least 10 years old; and

      (ii) 1. is a minor; or

         2. has a disability that makes the prospective adoptee incapable of effectively participating in the proceeding.

   (2) To determine whether a disability makes a child incapable of effectively participating in a case, a court, on its own motion or on motion of a party, may order examination of the child.

(c) Dual representation. -- An attorney or firm:

   (1) may represent more than one party in a case under this subtitle only if the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct allow; and

   (2) may not represent a prospective adoptive parent and parent in the same case.

(d) Compensation. -- Counsel appointed under this section may be compensated for reasonable fees, as approved by the court.

§ 5-3A-08. Agreement for postadoption contact

   (a) Authorized. --

   (1) A prospective adoptive parent and parent of a prospective adoptee under this subtitle may enter into a written agreement to allow contact, after the adoption, between:

      (i) the parent or other relative of the adoptee; and

      (ii) the adoptee or adoptive parent.

   (2) An adoptive parent and former parent of an adoptee under this subtitle may enter into a written agreement to allow contact between:

      (i) a relative or former parent of the adoptee; and

      (ii) the adoptee or adoptive parent.

(b) Construction of agreement. -- An agreement made under this section applies to contact with an adoptee only while the adoptee is a minor.

(c) Dissemination; redaction. -- An individual who prepares an agreement described in subsection (a)(1) of this section:

   (1) shall provide a copy to each party in a case pending as to the prospective adoptee under this subtitle; and

   (2) if the agreement so provides, shall redact identifying information from all copies.

(d) Effect of noncompliance. -- Failure to comply with a condition of an agreement made under this section is not a ground for revoking consent to, or setting aside an order for, adoption or guardianship.

(e) Mediation. -- If a dispute as to an agreement made under this section arises, a court may order the parties to engage in mediation to try to resolve the dispute.

(f) Enforcement. --

   (1) A court shall enforce a written agreement made in accordance with this section unless enforcement is not in the adoptee's best interests.

   (2) If a party moves to modify a written agreement made in accordance with this section and satisfies the court that modification is justified because an exceptional circumstance has arisen and the court finds modification to be in an adoptee's best interests, the court may modify the agreement.

§ 5-3A-09. Costs

   A court may assign among the parties to a case under this subtitle, as the court considers appropriate, counsel fees and the cost of testing under § 5-3A-06 of this subtitle.

§ 5-3A-10. Appeal

   A party to a case under this subtitle may appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from an interlocutory or final order

§§ 5-3A-11, 5-3A-12.

   Reserved.

PART II. GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDING

§ 5-3A-13. Petition

   (a) Petitioner. -- Only a child placement agency may petition for guardianship under this subtitle.

(b) Child. -- A court may grant guardianship under this subtitle only for a minor.

(c) Contents. -- A petitioner shall attach to a petition:

   (1) all written consents for the guardianship that the petitioner has; and

   (2) if applicable:

      (i) proof of guardianship or relinquishment of parental rights granted by an administrative, executive, or judicial body of a state or other jurisdiction; and

      (ii) certification that the guardianship or relinquishment was granted in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws.
§ 5-3A-14. Notice of filing

   (a) Requirement. -- Within 5 days after a petition for guardianship of a child is filed with a court, the clerk shall send a copy of the petition and notice of filing to:

   (1) each of the child's living parents who has not waived the right to notice; and

   (2) each living parent's attorney of record.

(b) Method. -- Notice under this section shall be by first-class mail.

(c) Parental address. -- Notice to a parent under this section shall be sent to a parent's last address known to the court.

§ 5-3A-14. Notice of filing

   (a) Requirement. -- Within 5 days after a petition for guardianship of a child is filed with a court, the clerk shall send a copy of the petition and notice of filing to:

   (1) each of the child's living parents who has not waived the right to notice; and

   (2) each living parent's attorney of record.

(b) Method. -- Notice under this section shall be by first-class mail.

(c) Parental address. -- Notice to a parent under this section shall be sent to a parent's last address known to the court.

§ 5-3A-15. Order to show cause

   (a) Requirement. -- On issuance of a show cause order as to guardianship of a child, a petitioner shall serve the order on each of the child's living parents who has not consented to the guardianship.

(b) Method. -- Service under this section shall be by:

   (1) personal service; or

   (2) certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested.

(c) Parental address. -- Service on a parent under this section shall be attempted at the parent's last address known to the petitioner.

(d) Publication. --

   (1) If a court is satisfied, by affidavit or testimony, that, after reasonable efforts in good faith, a petitioner could not identify a parent or could not effect service on a parent, the court shall order service through notice by publication as to that parent.

   (2) Notice under this subsection shall consist of substantially the following statement:
 
      To: (Father's name) To: (Mother's name) To: Unknown parent
 
      "You are hereby notified that a guardianship case has been filed in the circuit court for (county name), case no. (number). All persons who believe themselves to be parents of a (male or female) child born on (date of birth) in (city, state) to (mother's and father's names and dates of birth) shall file a written response. A copy of the show cause order may be obtained from the clerk's office at (address) and (telephone number). If you do not file a written objection by (deadline), you will have agreed to the permanent loss of your parental rights to this child."

   (3) Service under this subsection shall be by:

      (i) publication at least once in one or more newspapers in general circulation in the county where the parent last resided or, if unknown, where the petition is filed; and

      (ii) posting for at least 30 days on a website of the Department.

   (4) The Department may charge a petitioner a reasonable fee to cover the cost of posting.

§ 5-3A-16. Investigation

   Before ruling on a guardianship petition, a court may order any investigation that the court considers necessary.

§ 5-3A-17. Time limits

   (a) Maximum limit. -- Subject to subsection (b) of this section, a court shall rule on a guardianship petition under this subtitle within 180 days after the petition is filed.

(b) Minimum limit. -- A court may not enter a final order for guardianship under this subtitle until the later of expiration of the time for:

   (1) revocation of consent; or

   (2) the filing of a response to an order to show cause.

§ 5-3A-18. Authority to grant guardianship

   (a) Consent or best interests. -- A court may grant a guardianship of a child only if:

   (1) each of the child's living parents consents:

      (i) in writing; or

      (ii) by failure to timely file notice of objection after being served with a show cause order in accordance with this subtitle;

   (2) an administrative, executive, or judicial body of a state or other jurisdiction has granted a governmental unit or person other than a parent the power to consent to adoption, and the governmental unit or person consents; or

   (3) parental rights have been terminated in compliance with the laws of a state or other jurisdiction, as described in § 5-3A-05 of this subtitle.

(b) Conditional consent. -- A governmental unit or person:

   (1) may condition consent or acquiescence on adoption into a specific family that a child placement agency has approved for the placement; but

   (2) may not condition consent or acquiescence on any factor other than placement into a specific family.

§ 5-3A-19. Consent

   (a) Contents. --

   (1) Consent of a parent may include a waiver of the right to notice of:

      (i) the filing of a petition under this subtitle; and

      (ii) further proceedings under this subtitle.

   (2) Consent to guardianship is not valid unless the consent:

      (i) is given after the child for whom guardianship is sought is born;

      (ii) is given in a language that the party understands;

      (iii) if given in a language other than English:

         1. is given before a judge on the record; or

         2. is accompanied by the affidavit of a translator stating that the translation of the document of consent is accurate;

      (iv) contains an express notice of:

         1. the right to revoke consent, at any time within 30 days after the person signs the consent, unless the revocation is barred under subsection (b)(2) of this section;

         2. the search rights of adoptees and parents under § 5-3A-42 of this subtitle and the search rights of adoptees, parents, and siblings under Subtitle 4B of this title; and

         3. the right to file a disclosure veto under § 5-3A-42 of this subtitle; and

      (v) is accompanied by an affidavit of counsel appointed under § 5-3A-07(a) of this subtitle stating that a parent who is a minor or has a disability consents knowingly and voluntarily.

(b) Revocation period. --

   (1) Subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, a person may revoke consent to guardianship at any time within 30 days after the person signs the consent.

   (2) A parent may not revoke consent for guardianship of a child if:

      (i) in the preceding year, the parent has revoked consent for or filed a notice of objection to guardianship of the child; and

      (ii) the child is at least 30 days old and consent is given before a judge on the record.

(c) Failed conditional placement. -- If a petitioner becomes aware, before a court rules on a petition, that a condition of consent under § 5-3A-18(b) of this subtitle cannot be fulfilled, the petitioner promptly shall:

   (1) file notice with the court;

   (2) give notice to all of the other parties;

   (3) if consent was received from a governmental unit or person who is not a party, give notice to that unit or person; and

   (4) (i) if the unit or person enters into a new consent, file the consent with the court; or

      (ii) if the unit or person fails to enter into a new consent, dismiss the petition.

§ 5-3A-20. Grant of guardianship -- Consensual

   (a) Authority. -- If all consents for guardianship of a child have been given in accordance with this subtitle, a court may enter an order for guardianship.

(b) Notice. --

   (1) Within 5 days after entry of an order under this section, a court shall notify each party to the case who has not waived the right to notice.

   (2) Notice under this subsection shall be by first-class mail.

   (3) Notice under this subsection shall be sent to a party's last address known to the court.

§ 5-3A-21. Contents of order

   In an order entered under this subtitle, a court shall document:

   (1) the response by each party to the guardianship petition; and

   (2) the waiver, if any, of a parent to notice of further proceedings.

§ 5-3A-22. Effects of order for guardianship

   (a) Parent-child relationship. -- An order for guardianship of an individual:

   (1) except as provided in § 5-3A-23 of this subtitle, § 4-414 of the Estates and Trusts Article, and § 2-123 of the Real Property Article, terminates a parent's duties, obligations, and rights toward the individual;

   (2) eliminates the need for notice to a parent as to the filing of an adoption petition;

   (3) eliminates the need for further consent of a parent to adoption of the individual; and

   (4) grants guardianship of the individual to a child placement agency.

(b) Guardian. --

   (1) Unless a court gives legal custody to another person, a child's guardian under this subtitle has legal custody.

   (2) Unless a court orders otherwise and subject to review by the court, a child's guardian may make all decisions affecting the child's education, health, and welfare, including consenting to:

      (i) adoption of the child;

      (ii) application by the child for a driver's license;

      (iii) enlistment by the child in the armed forces;

      (iv) marriage of the child; and

      (v) medical, psychiatric, or surgical treatment.

§ 5-3A-23. Guardianship review

   (a) Report. --

   (1) A child placement agency shall file a written report with a court with jurisdiction over a child whenever:

      (i) the child placement agency fails to place the child for adoption with a preadoptive parent, as defined in § 3-823(i)(1) of the Courts Article:

         1. within 270 days after being awarded guardianship; or

         2. within 180 days after permanently removing the child from another placement; or

      (ii) a court does not enter a final order of adoption within 2 years after the placement.

   (2) A report under this subsection shall state each reason for the delay in placement or adoption.

(b) Notice. --

   (1) Whenever a child placement agency files a report under this section, the child placement agency shall mail notice of the child's status:

      (i) to each of the child's living parents who has not waived the right to notice and, if represented, counsel; and

      (ii) if a court appointed counsel for the child under this subtitle, to the child's last attorney of record.

   (2) A waiver of rights under this subsection is not valid unless the waiver appears expressly in:

      (i) the parent's consent to guardianship; and

      (ii) the guardianship order.

(c) Hearing. --

   (1) Whenever a court receives a report under this section, the court shall hold a hearing to:

      (i) review the progress that the child placement agency has made toward adoption of the child; and

      (ii) take all actions that the court considers to be in the child's best interests.

   (2) Each year after a hearing under paragraph (1) of this subsection until the court's jurisdiction terminates, the court shall hold another review hearing.

§ 5-3A-24. Failed conditional consent during guardianship

   If a petitioner becomes aware, after a court rules on a petition, that a condition of consent under § 5-3A-18(b) of this subtitle cannot be fulfilled, the petitioner promptly shall:

   (1) file notice with the court;

   (2) give notice to all of the other parties;

   (3) if consent was received from a governmental unit or person who is not a party, give notice to that unit or person; and

   (4) (i) if the unit or person enters into a new consent, file the consent with the court;

      (ii) if the unit or person fails to enter into a new consent, ask the court to set aside the guardianship order; or

      (iii) if the unit or person cannot be located after exhaustion of the service requirements under § 5-3A-15 of this subtitle, ask the court to determine whether it is in the child's best interests to continue the guardianship despite the inability to fulfill the condition.

§ 5-3A-25. Termination of guardianship

   (a) Age limit. -- Unless terminated sooner, a court retains jurisdiction over a child until the child attains 18 years of age.

(b) Adoption order. -- An order for adoption of a child terminates the child's guardianship case.

§§ 5-3A-26 to 5-3A-28.

   Reserved.

PART III. ADOPTION

§ 5-3A-29. Petitioner

   (a) Age. -- Any adult may petition a court for an adoption under this subtitle.

(b) Minimum period of placement. -- A petitioner may petition for adoption of a child 180 days or more after a child placement agency places the child with the petitioner.

(c) Marital status. --

   (1) If a petitioner under this section is married, the petitioner's spouse shall join in the petition unless the spouse:

      (i) is separated from the petitioner under a circumstance that gives the petitioner a ground for annulment or divorce; or

      (ii) is not competent to join in the petition.

   (2) If the marital status of a petitioner changes before entry of a final order, the petitioner shall amend the petition accordingly.

§ 5-3A-30. Notice of filing

   A petitioner for adoption under this subtitle shall give notice of the filing of an adoption petition to each person whose consent is required.

§ 5-3A-31. Report

   Before a court enters an order for adoption of a child under this subtitle, a child placement agency shall file a written report on:

   (1) the suitability of the petitioner to adopt the child; and

   (2) the relationship between the petitioner and child.

§ 5-3A-32. Hearing on adoption petition

   A court shall hold a hearing before entering an order for adoption under this subtitle.

§ 5-3A-33. Time limits

   A court may not enter an order for adoption under this subtitle until 30 days after entry of a guardianship order under this subtitle

§ 5-3A-34. Considerations.

   (a) In general. -- In ruling on a petition for a child's adoption under this Part III of this subtitle, a court shall consider:

   (1) all factors necessary to determine the child's best interests; and

   (2) the report required under § 5-3A-31 of this subtitle.

(b) Marriage. -- In ruling on an adoption petition under this Part III of this subtitle, a court may not deny the petition solely because the petitioner is single or unmarried.

§ 5-3A-35. Authority to grant adoption

   (a) Consent. -- A court may enter an order for a child's adoption under this subtitle only if:

   (1) the child placement agency consents; and

   (2) for a child who is at least 10 years old, the child consents.

(b) "Disability" defined; withholding consent. --

   (1) (i) In this subsection, "disability" means:

         1. a physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness, including epilepsy;

         2. a mental impairment or deficiency;

         3. a record of having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph; or

         4. being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph.

      (ii) "Disability" includes:

         1. any degree of paralysis or amputation;

         2. blindness or visual impairment;

         3. deafness or hearing impairment;

         4. muteness or speech impediment;

         5. physical reliance on a service animal or a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; and

         6. intellectual disability, as defined in § 7-101 of the Health - General Article, and any other mental impairment or deficiency that may have necessitated remedial or special education and related services.

   (2) A child placement agency may not withhold consent for the sole reason that:

      (i) the race, religion, color, or national origin of a prospective adoptive parent differs from that of the child or parent; or

      (ii) a prospective adoptive parent has a disability.

(c) Requirements for vaild consent. -- Consent of a party to an adoption under this Part III of this subtitle is not valid unless:

   (1) the consent is given in a language that the party understands;

   (2) if given in a language other than English, the consent:

      (i) is given before a judge on the record; or

      (ii) is accompanied by the affidavit of a translator stating that the translation of the document of consent is accurate;

   (3) the consent names the child;

   (4) the consent contains enough information to identify the prospective adoptive parent; and

   (5) the party has received written notice or on-the-record notice of:

      (i) the revocation provisions in this section;

      (ii) the search rights of adoptees and parents under § 5-3A-42 of this subtitle and the search rights of adoptees, parents, and siblings under Subtitle 4B of this title; and

      (iii) the right to file a disclosure veto under § 5-3A-42 of this subtitle.

(d) Revocation. --

   (1) A child placement agency may revoke consent at any time within the later of:

      (i) 14 days after the child placement agency signs the consent; or

      (ii) 14 days after the adoption petition is filed.

   (2) A child who is at least 10 years old may revoke consent at any time before a court enters an order of adoption under this subtitle.

§ 5-3A-36. Order for adoption

   (a) Effect on parent-child relationship. --

   (1) This subsection does not limit the right of an individual to provide for distribution of property by will.

   (2) Except as provided in § 2-123 of the Real Property Article, after a court enters an order for adoption under this subtitle:

      (i) the adoptee:

         1. is the child of the adoptive parent for all intents and purposes; and

         2. is entitled to all of the rights and privileges of and is subject to all of the obligations of offspring born to the adoptive parent;

      (ii) each of the adoptee's living parents is:

         1. relieved of all parental duties and obligations to the adoptee; and

         2. divested of all parental rights as to the adoptee; and

      (iii) the Estates and Trusts Article shall govern all of the rights of inheritance between the adoptee and parental relatives.

(b) Effect on pending cases. -- An order for adoption under this subtitle terminates all pending guardianship cases as to the adoptee.

(c) Adoption of adults. -- Adoption of an adult has the same legal effect as adoption of a minor.

(d) Notice of order. --

   (1) When a court enters an order for a child's adoption under this subtitle, the court shall send notice to:

      (i) each court that has a pending guardianship case as to the adoptee;

      (ii) each of the child's living, former parents who has not waived the right to notice; and

      (iii) the former guardian of the child.

   (2) Service on a parent under this subsection shall be at the parent's last address known to the court.

§ 5-3A-37. Petition to invalidate

   If a petition to invalidate an order for adoption under this subtitle on the basis of a jurisdictional or procedural defect is filed more than 1 year after entry of the order, a court shall dismiss the petition.

§ 5-3A-38.

   Reserved.

PART IV. ACCESS TO ADOPTION RECORDS

§ 5-3A-39. Medical and mental health information

   (a) Compilation of adoptee's records or history. -- A child placement agency shall make reasonable efforts to compile and make available to a prospective adoptive parent:

   (1) all of the prospective adoptee's medical and mental health records that the agency has; or

   (2) a comprehensive medical and mental health history of the prospective adoptee.

(b) Compilation of parental history. -- On request of a prospective adoptive parent, a child placement agency shall make reasonable efforts to compile a pertinent medical and mental health history of each of the prospective adoptee's parents, if available to the agency, and to make the history available to the prospective adoptive parent.

(c) Later received information. --

   (1) If, after adoption, a child placement agency receives medical or mental health information about the adoptee or adoptee's former parent, the agency shall make reasonable efforts to make the information available to the adoptive parent.

   (2) If, after adoption, the adoptive parent requests additional information, the child placement agency shall make reasonable efforts to notify the former parent, at the former parent's last known address available to the agency, of the request and the reason for the request.

(d) Exclusion of identifying information. -- A medical or mental health history compiled under this section may not contain identifying information as to a parent.

§ 5-3A-40. Court and agency records

   (a) Access. --

   (1) (i) On request of an adoptee or adoptive or former parent of an adoptee and without a showing of a need, a child placement agency shall provide information, other than identifying information, in its adoption record on the adoptee.

      (ii) If a child placement agency denies a request under this paragraph, then on petition of an adoptee or adoptive or former parent and without a showing of need, a court shall order access for the petitioner to inspect, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the agency's record on the adoptee.

   (2) On petition of an adoptee or adoptive or former parent of an adoptee and without a showing of need, a court shall order access for the petitioner to inspect, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the court's record on the adoptee.

(b) Protection of identifying information. -- A court may not order opened for inspection under this section any part of a record that contains identifying information.

§ 5-3A-41. Urgently needed medical information

   (a) Hearing on need. -- If, after a hearing on petition of an adoptee or former parent, a court is satisfied that the adoptee or blood relative of the adoptee or former parent urgently needs medical information not in agency and court records, the court may appoint an intermediary to try to contact the adoptee or a former parent of the adoptee for the information.

(b) Role of intermediary. -- An intermediary appointed under this section:

   (1) only may advise an adoptee or former parent of the need for medical information; and

   (2) may not:

      (i) reveal any identifying information about an adoptee or former parent; or

      (ii) try, in any manner, to encourage or discourage contact between an adoptee and former parent.

(c) Report to court. -- An intermediary appointed under this section shall file with the appointing court a confidential written report on the intermediary's efforts to contact an adoptee or former parent.

(d) Disclosure by court. -- When a court receives a report from an intermediary, the court may disclose to the adoptee or former parent, without revealing identifying information about the adoptee or any former parent:

   (1) whether the intermediary advised the adoptee or former parent about the need for medical information; and

   (2) medical information that the adoptee or former parent provided.

(e) Compensation. -- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a court may order an adoptee or former parent to pay a reasonable fee for the services of an intermediary under this section.

§ 5-3A-42. Vital records

   (a) Definitions. --

   (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

   (2) "Director" means the State Director of Social Services.

   (3) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene.

(b) Scope of section. -- This section applies only to an adoption in which a court enters an order for adoption on or after January 1, 2000.

(c) Construction of section. -- This section does not bar:

   (1) an adoptee or biological parent from applying for search, contact, and reunion services under Subtitle 4B of this title; or

   (2) the Director or a confidential intermediary from obtaining a copy of a record under § 5-4B-04(c) or § 5-4B-06(b) or (c) of this title.

(d) Application for record. --

   (1) An adoptee who is at least 21 years old may apply to the Secretary for a copy of:

      (i) the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (ii) all records that relate to the adoptee's new certificate of birth, if any; and

      (iii) the report of the adoptee's order of adoption filed by the clerk of court under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article.

   (2) If an adoptee is at least 21 years old, a biological parent of the adoptee may apply to the Secretary for a copy of:

      (i) the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (ii) the new certificate of birth, if any, substituted, under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article, for the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (iii) all records that relate to the adoptee's new certificate of birth; and

      (iv) the report of the adoptee's order of adoption filed by the clerk of court under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article.

   (3) Each applicant under this subsection shall:

      (i) provide all proof of identity and other relevant information that the Secretary requires; and

      (ii) pay the fee required under Title 4, Subtitle 2 of the Health - General Article for a copy of a record.

(e) Disclosure veto. --

   (1) A biological parent may:

      (i) file with the Director a disclosure veto, to bar disclosure of information about that parent in a record accessible under this section;

      (ii) cancel a disclosure veto at any time; and

      (iii) refile a disclosure veto at any time.

   (2) An adoptee at least 21 years old may:

      (i) file with the Director a disclosure veto, to bar disclosure of information about the adoptee in a record accessible under this section;

      (ii) cancel a disclosure veto at any time; and

      (iii) refile a disclosure veto at any time.

   (3) Immediately after the Director receives a disclosure veto or cancellation under this subsection, the Director shall forward a copy to the Secretary.

(f) Duties of Secretary. --

   (1) The Secretary shall adopt regulations to carry out this section.

   (2) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subsection, the Secretary shall give to each applicant who meets the requirements of this section a copy of each record that the applicant requested and that the Secretary has on file.

   (3) Whenever a biological parent applies for a record, the Secretary shall redact from the copy all information as to:

      (i) the other biological parent, if that parent has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section; and

      (ii) the adoptee and each adoptive parent, if the adoptee has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section.

   (4) Whenever an adoptee applies for a record, the Secretary shall redact from the copy all information as to the biological parent, if that parent has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section.

   (5) The Secretary shall give each applicant under this section notice of the adoption search, contact, and reunion services available under this title.

§ 5-3A-43. Access for adoptive parent.

   (a) Allowed. -- Subject to subsection (b) of this section, access to a dental or medical record of an adopted minor may not be denied to a parent of the minor because the parent is an adoptive parent.

(b) Limit on identifying information. -- Access to a dental or medical record under this section may not include access to any part of the record that has identifying information as to a former parent of the minor.

§ 5-3A-44.

   Reserved.

PART V. PROHIBITED ACTS

§ 5-3A-45. Prohibited payments

   (a) Prohibited act. -- Except as otherwise provided by law, a person may not charge or receive, from or for a parent or prospective adoptive parent, any compensation for a service in connection with:

   (1) placement of an individual to live with a preadoptive family; or

   (2) an agreement for custody in contemplation of adoption.

(b) Construction of section. --

   (1) In this subsection, "Administration" means the Social Services Administration of the Department.

   (2) This section does not:

      (i) prohibit payment, by an interested person, of a customary and reasonable charge or fee for hospital, legal, or medical services; or

      (ii) prevent the Administration, or a person that the Administration licenses or supervises, from receiving and accepting reasonable reimbursement for costs of an adoptive service in connection with adoption, if:

         1. the reimbursement is in accordance with standards set by regulation of the Administration; and

         2. the ability to provide this reimbursement does not affect:

            A. the acceptability of any individual for adoptive services; or

            B. the choice of the most suitable prospective adoptive parent.

(c) Duty of State's Attorney. -- Each State's Attorney shall enforce this section.

(d) Penalties. -- A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $ 100 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or both, for each offense.

SUBTITLE 3B. INDEPENDENT ADOPTION

PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 5-3B-01. Definitions

   (a) In general. -- In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Identifying information. -- "Identifying information" means information that reveals the identity or location of an individual.

(c) Parent. --

   (1) "Parent" means an individual who, at any time before a court enters an order for adoption under this subtitle:

      (i) meets a criterion in § 5-3B-05(a) of this subtitle; or

      (ii) is the mother.

   (2) "Parent" does not include an individual whom a court has adjudicated not to be a father or mother.

(d) Prospective adoptee. -- "Prospective adoptee" means an individual who is the subject of a petition for adoption under this subtitle.

§ 5-3B-02. Scope of subtitle; effect

   (a) Application. -- This subtitle applies only to an adoption that is arranged other than by a child placement agency.

(b) Effect. -- Except as expressly provided in this subtitle, it does not affect an adoption:

   (1) for which a court entered an order on or before December 31, 2005; or

   (2) pending on January 1, 2006.

§ 5-3B-03. Statement of findings; purposes

   (a) Statement of findings. -- The General Assembly finds that the policies and procedures of this subtitle are desirable and socially necessary.

(b) Purposes. -- The purposes of this subtitle are to:

   (1) timely provide permanent and safe homes for children consistent with their best interests;

   (2) protect children from unnecessary separation from their parents;

   (3) ensure adoption only by individuals fit for the responsibility;

   (4) protect parents from making hurried or ill-considered agreements to terminate their parental rights;

   (5) protect prospective adoptive parents by giving them information about prospective adoptees and their backgrounds; and

   (6) protect adoptive parents from future disturbances of their relationships with adoptees by former parents.

§ 5-3B-04. Foreign orders

   (a) "Order" defined. -- In this section, "order" includes any action that, under the laws of another jurisdiction, has the force and effect of a comparable judicial order under this subtitle.

(b) Order of another state. -- In accordance with the United States Constitution, this State shall accord full faith and credit to:

   (1) an order of another state as to adoption or guardianship in compliance with the other state's laws; and

   (2) termination of parental rights in compliance with the other state's laws.

(c) Other foreign orders. -- As to a jurisdiction other than a state:

   (1) an order for adoption or guardianship entered in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws shall have the same legal effect as an order for adoption or guardianship entered in this State; and

   (2) termination of parental rights in compliance with the jurisdiction's laws shall have the same legal effect as termination of parental rights in this State.

(d) Construction. -- This section may not be construed to require an individual to petition a court in this State for adoption of an adoptee if:

   (1) the individual adopted the adoptee in compliance with the laws of a jurisdiction other than a state; and

   (2) the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services verifies the validity of that adoption by granting, under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, an IR-3 visa for the adoptee.

§ 5-3B-05. Paternity

   (a) In general. -- Unless a court excludes a man as the father of a child, a man is the father if:

   (1) the man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's conception;

   (2) the man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth;

   (3) the man is named as the father on the child's birth certificate and has not signed a denial of paternity;

   (4) the child's mother has named the man as the child's father and the man has not signed a denial of paternity;

   (5) the man has been adjudicated to be the child's father;

   (6) the man has acknowledged himself, orally or in writing, to be the child's father and the mother agrees; or

   (7) on the basis of genetic testing, the man is indicated to be the child's biological father.

(b) Notice and hearing on paternity claim. --

   (1) A petitioner under this subtitle shall give a court notice that a man who is not named in the petition and has not been excluded as a father claims paternity.

   (2) After a request of a party or claimant and before ruling on a petition for adoption under this subtitle, a court shall hold a hearing on the issue of paternity.

§ 5-3B-06. Appointed counsel

   (a) Parent. --

   (1) In a case under this subtitle, a court shall appoint an attorney to represent a parent who:

      (i) has a disability that makes the parent incapable of effectively participating in the case; or

      (ii) when the parent must decide whether to consent to adoption, is still a minor.

   (2) To determine whether a disability makes a parent incapable of effectively participating in a case, a court, on its own motion or on motion of a party, may order examination of the parent.

(b) Prospective adoptee. --

   (1) In a case under this subtitle, a court shall appoint an attorney to represent a prospective adoptee who:

      (i) has a disability that makes the prospective adoptee incapable of effectively participating in the case; and

      (ii) when the prospective adoptee must decide whether to consent to adoption, is at least 10 years old.

   (2) To determine whether a disability makes a prospective adoptee incapable of effectively participating in a case, a court, on its own motion or on motion of a party, may order examination of the prospective adoptee.

(c) Dual representation. -- An attorney or firm:

   (1) may represent more than one party in a case under this subtitle only if the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct allow; and

   (2) may not represent a prospective adoptive parent and parent in the same adoption case.

(d) Compensation. -- Counsel appointed under this section may be compensated for reasonable fees, as approved by the court.

§ 5-3B-07. Agreement for postadoption contact

   (a) Authorized. --

   (1) A prospective adoptive parent and parent of a prospective adoptee may enter into a written agreement to allow contact, after the adoption, between:

      (i) the parent or other relative of the adoptee; and

      (ii) the adoptee and adoptive parent.

   (2) An adoptive parent and former parent of an adoptee under this subtitle may enter into a written agreement to allow contact between:

      (i) a relative or former parent of the adoptee; and

      (ii) the adoptee or adoptive parent.

(b) Construction of agreement. -- An agreement made under this section applies to contact with an adoptee only while the adoptee is a minor.

(c) Dissemination; redaction. -- An individual who prepares an agreement described in subsection (a)(1) of this section:

   (1) shall provide a copy to each party in a case pending as to the prospective adoptee under this subtitle; and

   (2) if the agreement so provides, shall redact identifying information from the copies.

(d) Effect of noncompliance. -- Failure to comply with a condition of an agreement made under this section is not a ground for revoking consent to, or setting aside an order for, adoption.

(e) Mediation. -- If a dispute as to an agreement made under this section arises, a court may order the parties to engage in mediation to try to resolve the dispute.

(f) Enforcement. --

   (1) A court shall enforce a written agreement made in accordance with this section unless enforcement is not in the adoptee's best interests.

   (2) If a party moves to modify a written agreement made in accordance with this section and satisfies the court that modification is justified because an exceptional circumstance has arisen and the court finds modification to be in an adoptee's best interests, the court may modify the agreement.

§ 5-3B-08. Assessment of costs

   (a) Independent counsel and counseling. -- A court may order an adoptive parent to pay, wholly or partly, reasonable fees for a former parent's:

   (1) independent counsel; or

   (2) adoption counseling or guidance for a reasonable time.

(b) Other costs. -- Except as provided in subsection (a) of this section, a court may assign among the parties to a case under this subtitle counsel fees, counseling or guidance fees, and costs of testing under § 5-3B-05 of this subtitle, as the court considers appropriate.

§ 5-3B-09. Appeal

   A party to a case under this subtitle may appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from an interlocutory or final order.

§§ 5-3B-10, 5-3B-11.

   Reserved.

PART II. ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS.

§ 5-3B-12. Authority to place child for adoption

   Except for a child being placed for adoption with a relative of the child, by blood or marriage within 4 degrees of affinity or consanguinity under the civil law rule, a parent or grandparent may place a child for adoption only if:

   (1) a petition for adoption is filed in court; and

   (2) the court, by order, sanctions the placement pending final action on the petition.

§ 5-3B-13. Petition

   (a) Eligible adoptee. -- Any adult or minor may be adopted under this subtitle.

(b) Petitioner. --

   (1) Any adult may petition a court for adoption.

   (2) If a petitioner is married, the petitioner's spouse shall join in the petition unless the spouse:

      (i) is separated from the petitioner under a circumstance that gives the petitioner a ground for annulment or divorce;

      (ii) is not competent to join in the petition; or

      (iii) 1. is a parent of the prospective adoptee; and

         2. has consented to the adoption in accordance with this subtitle.

(c) Pending case. -- Before a petition is filed under this subtitle, a petitioner shall move for, and a court shall order that, a case pending under Subtitle 3 of this title be closed.

(d) Amended petition. -- If the marital status of a petitioner changes before entry of an order under this subtitle, the petitioner shall amend the petition accordingly.

§ 5-3B-14. Notice of filing

   A court shall give notice of the filing of an adoption petition to each individual whose consent has been filed under this subtitle and who has not waived the right to notice.

§ 5-3B-15. Order to show cause

   (a) Scope of section. -- Subsection (b) of this section does not apply to an adoption by a spouse of the prospective adoptee's parent or a relative of the prospective adoptee.

(b) Issuance of order. -- A court shall issue a show-cause order that includes advice as to the parent's rights to:

   (1) have independent counsel; and

   (2) receive adoption counseling and guidance.

(c) Requirement. -- On issuance of a show-cause order as to a prospective adoptee, a petitioner shall serve the order:

   (1) on each of the prospective adoptee's living parents who has not consented to the adoption; and

   (2) if the prospective adoptee is at least 10 years old and has not consented to the adoption, on the prospective adoptee.

(d) Method. -- Service under this section shall be by:

   (1) personal service; or

   (2) certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested.

(e) Parental address. -- Service under this section shall be attempted at the parent's last address known to the petitioner.

(f) Publication. --

   (1) If a court is satisfied, by affidavit or testimony, that, after reasonable efforts in good faith, a petitioner could not identify a parent or could not effect service on a parent, the court shall order service through notice by publication as to that parent.

   (2) Notice under this subsection shall consist of substantially the following statement:
 
      To: (Father's name) To: (Mother's name) To: Unknown parent
 
      "You are hereby notified that an adoption case has been filed in the circuit court for (county name), case no. (number). All persons who believe themselves to be parents of a (male or female) child born on (date of birth) in (city, state) to (mother's and father's names and dates of birth) shall file a written response. A copy of the show-cause order may be obtained from the clerk's office at (address) and (telephone number). If you do not file a written objection by (deadline), you will have agreed to the permanent loss of your parental rights to this child."

   (3) Service under this subsection shall be by:

      (i) publication at least once in one or more newspapers in general circulation in the county where the petition is filed or, if different, where the parent's last address known to the petitioner is located; and

      (ii) posting for at least 30 days on a website of the Department.

   (4) The Department may charge a petitioner a reasonable fee to cover the cost of posting.

§ 5-3B-16. Investigation

   (a) In general. -- Before ruling on a consensual adoption petition under § 5-3B-20(1) of this subtitle, a court may order any investigation that the court considers necessary.

(b) Report. -- Before ruling on a nonconsensual adoption petition under §§ 5-3B-20(2) and 5-3B-22 of this subtitle, a court shall order an appropriate agency to investigate and submit a report that includes summaries of:

   (1) the prospective adoptee's emotional ties with and feelings toward the prospective adoptee's parents, the prospective adoptee's siblings, and others who may affect the prospective adoptee's best interests significantly; and

   (2) the prospective adoptee's adjustment to:

      (i) community;

      (ii) home; and

      (iii) school.

§ 5-3B-17. Hearing on petition

   A court shall hold a hearing before entering an order for adoption under this subtitle.

§ 5-3B-18. Time limit

   A court may not enter an order for adoption under this subtitle until expiration of the revocation period.

§ 5-3B-19. Considerations.

   (a) In general. -- In ruling on a petition for a prospective adoptee's adoption under this subtitle, a court shall consider:

   (1) all factors necessary to determine the prospective adoptee's best interests; and

   (2) any report prepared for the court.

(b) "Disability" defined; withholding consent. --

   (1) (i) In this subsection, "disability" means:

         1. a physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness, including epilepsy;

         2. a mental impairment or deficiency;

         3. a record of having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph; or

         4. being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment as defined under this paragraph.

      (ii) "Disability" includes:

         1. any degree of paralysis or amputation;

         2. blindness or visual impairment;

         3. deafness or hearing impairment;

         4. muteness or speech impediment;

         5. physical reliance on a service animal or a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; and

         6. intellectual disability, as defined in § 7-101 of the Health - General Article, and any other mental impairment or deficiency that may have necessitated remedial or special education and related services.

   (2) In ruling on an adoption petition under this subtitle, a court may not deny the petition solely because the petitioner:

      (i) is single or unmarried; or

      (ii) has a disability.

§ 5-3B-20. Authority to grant adoption

   A court may enter an order for adoption only if:

   (1) (i) 1. each of the prospective adoptee's living parents consents:

            A. in writing; or

            B. by failure to timely file notice of objection after being served with a show-cause order in accordance with this subtitle;

         2. an administrative, executive, or judicial body of a state or other jurisdiction has granted a governmental unit or person other than a parent the power to consent to adoption, and the unit or person consents; or

         3. parental rights have been terminated in compliance with the laws of a state or other jurisdiction, as described in § 5-3B-04 of this subtitle; and

      (ii) if the prospective adoptee is at least 10 years old, the prospective adoptee consents; or

   (2) in accordance with § 5-3B-22 of this subtitle, the court orders adoption without consent otherwise required under this section.

§ 5-3B-21. Consent

   (a) Contents. --

   (1) Consent of a parent may include a waiver of rights to notice of:

      (i) the filing of a petition under this subtitle; and

      (ii) further proceedings under this subtitle.

   (2) Consent to adoption under this subtitle is not valid unless the consent:

      (i) is given after the prospective adoptee is born;

      (ii) is given in a language that the party understands;

      (iii) if given in a language other than English:

         1. is given before a judge on the record; or

         2. is accompanied by the affidavit of a translator stating that the translation of the document of consent is accurate;

      (iv) contains an express notice of:

         1. the right to revoke consent, at any time within 30 days after the consent is signed;

         2. the search rights of adoptees and parents under § 5-3B-29 of this subtitle and the search rights of adoptees, siblings, and parents under Subtitle 4B of this title; and

         3. the right to file a disclosure veto under § 5-3B-29 of this subtitle;

      (v) except as to an adoption by a spouse of the prospective adoptee's parent or a relative of the prospective adoptee, states that the parent has been advised of the parent's rights to:

         1. have independent counsel; and

         2. receive adoption counseling and guidance;

      (vi) states whether the parent chose to have or not have counsel or counseling; and

      (vii) is accompanied by an affidavit of counsel appointed under § 5-3B-06 of this subtitle stating that a parent who is a minor or has a disability gives consent knowingly and voluntarily.

(b) Revocation period. --

   (1) (i) Subject to subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, a parent may revoke consent at any time within 30 days after the parent signs the consent.

      (ii) A parent may not revoke consent for adoption of a prospective adoptee if:

         1. in the preceding year, the parent has revoked consent for or filed a notice of objection to adoption of the prospective adoptee; and

         2. the child is at least 30 days old and consent is given before a judge on the record.

   (2) A prospective adoptee may revoke consent at any time before a court enters an order of adoption under this subtitle.

§ 5-3B-22. Nonconsensual adoption

   (a) Scope of section. -- This section applies only if a parent affirmatively withholds consent by filing a notice of objection.

(b) Custodian. --

   (1) A court may allow adoption, without parental consent otherwise required under this subtitle, by a petitioner who has exercised physical care, control, or custody over the prospective adoptee for at least 180 days, if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that:

      (i) the parent has not had custody of the prospective adoptee for at least 1 year;

      (ii) the prospective adoptee has significant emotional ties to and feelings for the petitioner; and

      (iii) the parent:

         1. has not maintained meaningful contact with the prospective adoptee while the petitioner had custody, notwithstanding an opportunity to do so;

         2. has failed to contribute to the prospective adoptee's physical care and support, notwithstanding the ability to do so;

         3. has subjected the prospective adoptee to:

            A. chronic abuse;

            B. chronic and life-threatening neglect;

            C. sexual abuse; or

            D. torture;

         4. has been convicted of abuse of any offspring;

         5. has been convicted, in any state or any court of the United States, of:

            A. a crime of violence against:

               I. a minor offspring of the parent;

               II. the child; or

               III. another parent of the child; or

            B. aiding or abetting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit a crime described in item A of this item; or

         6. has, other than by consent, lost parental rights to a sibling of the prospective adoptee.

   (2) If a court finds that an act or circumstance listed in paragraph (1)(iii)3 or 5 of this subsection exists, the court shall make a specific finding, based on facts in the record, whether return of the prospective adoptee to the custody of the parent poses an unacceptable risk to the prospective adoptee's safety.

   (3) In determining whether it is in the best interests of a prospective adoptee to terminate a parent's rights under this subsection, a court shall:

      (i) give primary consideration to the health and safety of the prospective adoptee; and

      (ii) consider the report required under § 5-3B-16 of this subtitle.

§ 5-3B-23. Custody

   A court may not grant a petition under § 5-3B-22 of this subtitle solely because a parent:

   (1) does not have legal custody of a prospective adoptee by reason of a divorce or legal separation; or

   (2) has been deprived of custody of a prospective adoptee by an act of the other parent.

§ 5-3B-24. Accounting

   (a) Scope of section. -- This section does not apply to an adoption by the spouse of the prospective adoptee's parent or a relative of the prospective adoptee.

(b) Requirement. -- A court may not enter an order under this subtitle until the petitioner files with the court an accounting of all payments and disbursements of any item of value made by or for the petitioner in connection with the adoption.

§ 5-3B-25. Effects of order for adoption

   (a) Distribution by will. -- This subsection does not limit the right of an individual to provide for distribution of property by will.

(b) Parent-child relationship. -- Except as provided in § 2-123 of the Real Property Article, after a court enters an order for adoption under this subtitle:

   (1) the adoptee:

      (i) is the offspring of the adoptive parent for all intents and purposes; and

      (ii) is entitled to all of the rights and privileges of and is subject to all of the obligations of offspring born to the adoptive parent;

   (2) each of the adoptee's living parents is:

      (i) relieved of all parental duties and obligations to the adoptee; and

      (ii) divested of all parental rights as to the adoptee; and

   (3) the Estates and Trusts Article shall govern all of the rights of inheritance between the adoptee and parental relatives.

(c) Adoption of adult. -- Adoption of an adult has the same legal effect as adoption of a minor.

§ 5-3B-26. Petition to invalidate

   If a petition to invalidate an order under this subtitle on the basis of a jurisdictional or procedural defect is filed more than 1 year after entry of the order, a court shall dismiss the petition.

§ 5-3B-27.

   Reserved

PART III. ACCESS TO ADOPTION RECORDS

§ 5-3B-28. Urgently needed medical information

   (a) Hearing on need. -- If, after a hearing on petition of an adoptee or former parent, a court is satisfied that the adoptee or blood relative of the adoptee or former parent urgently needs medical information not in court records, the court may appoint an intermediary to try to contact the adoptee or a former parent of the adoptee for the information.

(b) Role of intermediary. -- An intermediary appointed under this section:

   (1) only may advise an adoptee or former parent of the need for medical information; and

   (2) may not:

      (i) reveal any identifying information about an adoptee or former parent; or

      (ii) try, in any manner, to encourage or discourage contact between an adoptee and former parent.

(c) Report to court. -- An intermediary appointed under this section shall file with the appointing court a confidential written report on the intermediary's efforts to contact an adoptee or former parent.

(d) Disclosure by court. -- When a court receives a report from an intermediary, the court may disclose to the adoptee or former parent, without revealing identifying information about the adoptee or any former parent:

   (1) whether the intermediary advised the adoptee or a former parent about the need for medical information; and

   (2) medical information that the adoptee or a former parent provided.

(e) Compensation. -- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a court may order an adoptee or former parent to pay a reasonable fee for the services of an intermediary under this section.

§ 5-3B-29. Vital records

   (a) Definitions. --

   (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

   (2) "Director" means the State Director of Social Services.

   (3) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene.

(b) Scope of section. -- This section applies only to an adoption in which a court enters an order for adoption on or after January 1, 2000.

(c) Construction of section. -- This section does not bar:

   (1) an adoptee or biological parent from applying for search, contact, and reunion services under Subtitle 4B of this title; or

   (2) the Director or a confidential intermediary from obtaining a copy of a record under § 5-4B-04(c) or § 5-4B-06(b) or (c) of this title.

(d) Application for record. --

   (1) An adoptee who is at least 21 years old may apply to the Secretary for a copy of:

      (i) the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (ii) all records that relate to the adoptee's new certificate of birth, if any; and

      (iii) the report of the adoptee's order of adoption filed by the clerk of court under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article.

   (2) If an adoptee is at least 21 years old, a biological parent of the adoptee may apply to the Secretary for a copy of:

      (i) the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (ii) the new certificate of birth, if any, that was substituted, under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article, for the adoptee's original certificate of birth;

      (iii) all records that relate to the adoptee's new certificate of birth; and

      (iv) the report of the adoptee's order of adoption filed by the clerk of court under § 4-211 of the Health - General Article.

   (3) Each applicant under this subsection shall:

      (i) provide all proof of identity and other relevant information that the Secretary requires; and

      (ii) pay the fee required under Title 4, Subtitle 2 of the Health - General Article for a copy of a record.

(e) Disclosure veto. --

   (1) A biological parent may:

      (i) file with the Director a disclosure veto, to bar disclosure of information about that parent in a record accessible under this section;

      (ii) cancel a disclosure veto at any time; and

      (iii) refile a disclosure veto at any time.

   (2) An adoptee 21 years old may:

      (i) file with the Director a disclosure veto, to bar disclosure of information about the adoptee in a record accessible under this section;

      (ii) cancel a disclosure veto at any time; and

      (iii) refile a disclosure veto at any time.

   (3) Immediately after the Director receives a disclosure veto or cancellation under this subsection, the Director shall forward a copy to the Secretary.

(f) Duties of Secretary. --

   (1) The Secretary shall adopt regulations to carry out this section.

   (2) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subsection, the Secretary shall give to each applicant who meets the requirements of this section a copy of each record that the applicant requested and that the Secretary has on file.

   (3) Whenever a biological parent applies for a record, the Secretary shall redact from the copy all information as to:

      (i) the other biological parent, if that parent has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section; and

      (ii) the adoptee and each adoptive parent, if the adoptee has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section.

   (4) Whenever an adoptee applies for a record, the Secretary shall redact from the copy all information as to the biological parent, if that parent has filed a disclosure veto in accordance with this section.

   (5) The Secretary shall give each applicant under this section notice of the adoption search, contact, and reunion services available under this title.

§ 5-3B-30. Access for adoptive parent.

   (a) Allowed. -- Subject to subsection (b) of this section, access to a dental or medical record of an adopted minor may not be denied to a parent of the minor because the parent is an adoptive parent.

(b) Limit on identifying information. -- Access to a dental or medical record under this section may not include access to any part of the record that has identifying information as to a former parent of the minor.

§ 5-3B-31.

   Reserved

PART IV. PROHIBITED ACTS.

§ 5-3B-32. Prohibited payments


   (a) Prohibited act. -- Except as otherwise provided by law, a person may not charge or receive, from or for a parent or prospective adoptive parent, any compensation for a service in connection with:

   (1) placement of an individual to live with a preadoptive family; or

   (2) an agreement for custody in contemplation of adoption.

(b) Construction of section. -- This section does not prohibit payment, by an interested person, of a reasonable and customary charge or fee for adoption counseling, hospital, legal, or medical services.

(c) Duty of State's Attorney. -- Each State's Attorney shall enforce this section.

(d) Penalties. -- A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $ 100 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or both, for each offense.

SUBTITLE 4. ADOPTION SUBSIDY ACT

NOTE: this subtitle is not reviewed as part of the Maryland Adoption Law.

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Cities in Maryland 

A
Aberdeen Abingdon Annapolis Arnold Ashton
B
Baltimore Bel Air Beltsville Berlin Bethesda Bladensburg Bowie Brandywine Brooklyn Burtonsville
C
California Cambridge Capitol Heights Catonsville Centreville Chester Chestertown Chevy Chase Clarksville Clinton Cockeysville College Park Columbia Crofton Cumberland
D
Damascus Denton District Heights Dundalk Dunkirk
E
Easton Edgewater Edgewood Elkridge Elkton Ellicott City Essex
F
Fallston Finksburg Forest Hill Fork Fort Washington Frederick Frostburg
G
Gaithersburg Gambrills Germantown Glen Burnie Greenbelt Gwynn Oak
H
Hagerstown Halethorpe Hampstead Hanover Havre De Grace Hunt Valley Huntingtown Hyattsville
J
Jarrettsville Jessup Joppa
K
Kensington
L
La Plata Lanham Laurel Leonardtown Lexington Park Linthicum Heights Lutherville Timonium
M
Mechanicsville Middle River Middletown Millersville Mount Airy
N
North Beach North East Nottingham
O
Oakland Ocean City Odenton Olney Owings Owings Mills Oxon Hill
P
Parkville Pasadena Pikesville Pocomoke City Potomac Prince Frederick Princess Anne
R
Randallstown Reisterstown Rising Sun Riverdale Rockville Rosedale
S
Saint Michaels Salisbury Severn Severna Park Silver Spring Solomons Stevensville Suitland Sykesville
T
Takoma Park Taneytown Temple Hills Thurmont Towson
U
Upper Marlboro
W
Waldorf Westminster White Marsh White Plains Williamsport Windsor Mill

 

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