Domestic Independent/Private Adoption
A private adoption begins when the prospective adopting parents and birth parents locate one another, usually through newspaper or internet advertisements or introductions by mutual friends, relatives or acquaintances. Jennifer can guide clients, birth parents or adoptive parents, through these options and the safest and most successful avenues to locate each other.
Once the parties locate one another, they begin working together to resolve issues that arise through the adoption process. They may enter into what is referred to as an “adoption plan.” This negotiation may be made directly by the parties or through their attorneys. The adoption can be completely "open," whereby the parties exchange identifying information, or "closed" whereby the parties' identifying information remains completely confidential.In an independent adoption, the birth parent gives consent to the adoption of his or her child directly to the adoptive parents. Legal custody of the child passes directly from the birth parents to the adoptive parents.
Adoptive parents may learn of birth parents either through word-of-mouth contacts or newspaper advertisements in Maryland and the District of Columbia. In an independent adoption, the attorney representing the birth mother will often make arrangements with the hospital where the child is to be born so that the adoptive parents will have access to the child in the nursery following birth and the child will be discharged directly to the adoptive parents. After the child is born, the birth mother will execute her consent to the adoption. This is usually done at the hospital in the presence of the birth mother’s own attorney.
Just like the birth mother, the birth father of the child must consent to the adoption. If the birth father does not consent, he must be given notice of the proceeding by being served with a show cause order. Under certain circumstances, a birth father can be given notice by publication in the newspaper.
Before the adoptive parents take physical custody of the child, the law requires that a court order be obtained which grants legal custody to the parents. A birth parent executing his or her consent to an adoption in Maryland may revoke that consent for any reason for up to 30 days from its execution. A revocation must be in writing, signed by the revoking birth parent and filed with the clerk of the court. In the District of Columbia a consent is irrevocable once it is filed with the Court (usually within 24 hours of execution except on weekends).
Once adopting parents have located a birth parent who wishes to place their child for adoption and the child is born, the adopting parents file a Petition in the appropriate court. Each county has different local rules related to the adoption and the process, while similar, has nuances. As such, hiring an adoption attorney is important to a smooth completion of the adoption.
Jennifer will assist in negotiating a birth plan and post-adoption contact agreement, if desired, by either the birht parents or adoptive parents. And, if the child is born outside of Maryland or the District of Columbia, she will assist with obtaining approval from the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) and, if part of the adoption plan, in finalizing the adoption in the state of Maryland or the District of Columbia. Jennifer has extensive experience in handling ICPC matters.
The DC Council has revised the DC adoption law several times in the past few years. For example, a birth parent now has 14 days to revoke their consent if they place their child through an agency but the consent remains irrevocable upon execution for a private adoption.