There are two types of adoption in Maryland: agency adoption and independent adoption. Agency adoption can be broken down into two subparts: private agency adoption and public agency adoption.
Private agency adoption is where a private agency, licensed by the State of Maryland, has the ability to place a child with an adoptive family. Public agency adoption occurs when a child has been removed from the home of his or her birth parents (either voluntarily or involuntarily) by the State of Maryland and is then placed with an adoptive family.
Adoption through an agency, either private or public, is a two-step process:
- The child’s birth parents give up their parental rights to the agency.
- The agency, acting as the child’s guardian, consents to the adoption of the child by the new parents.
Independent or "private" adoption occurs when the birth parents place the child with the adoptive parents without the involvement of a third party (i.e. an agency). Birth parents and adoptive parents oftentimes know each other prior to the adoption, but it is not required. In some situations, birth parents and adoptive parents are complete strangers who have found each other without the assistance of a public or private adoption agency. Common types of independent adoptions include step-parent adoption and second-parent adoption.