No matter how your family came together, you know that it is yours. While some people are fortunate enough to have functional and loving families from the get-go, others often have to fight to build a clan of support from several more complicated pieces.
As you've probably noticed, the image of the nuclear family is gone and so too are the presumptions that a father and mother need to be married in order to be considered a family. For a lot of fathers across the Gaithersburg area and elsewhere in Maryland, their decision not to marry their partner but still have a child with them does not make them any less of a family. But when it comes to family law matters, their decision is one that can create problems.
Looking back, we can now say that 2013 was a dark year thanks in part to a series of high-profile cases involving adoptive parents and less-than honorable actions. As you may remember, a Reuters journalist uncovered a ring of adoptive parents who were giving up their children using online sites like Facebook. Because the new families were not vetted by adoption agencies, some children were relocated to unsafe homes where they suffered atrocities like abuse and neglect.
Even though the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges granted same-sex couples the right to marry in every state in the nation, the family law issues they face are still present in many states. As you've probably seen on the news, some county clerks have denied requests for marriage licenses. And in some states, laws have yet to catch up in order to provide guidance on issues like divorce and child custody.
Times are constantly changing and what was once considered the cultural norm 20 or 30 years ago certainly isn't the case now. Take for example adoptions. In the past, many – if not all – adoptions were closed. But nowadays, things are different. Many birthparents and adoptive parents are starting to see the benefits of an open adoption, making way for new and better arrangements in the end.
Adoption doesn't always have to mean you and your spouse are making the decision to take in a child who is not biologically related to you. Whether domestic or international, adoption comes in many forms, including situations in which a married individual may want to become more of a parental figure to their stepchildren.
Many couples in Maryland choose adoption as a way to grow their family. In some cases, it's because the couple is not able to have children of their own. For others, adoption is a great way to give a child in need a home. Whatever the reason, couples, as well as individuals, need to consider whether they will start the adoption process through a public or private agency. That's because, once the process has been started by signing a contract, adopters are prohibited by law to begin negotiations with another agency.
When there are instances of neglect or abuse of a child in a household, the Maryland Department of Social Services may be contacted. If a DSS worker deems the household unfit for the child, then he or she may be removed from their parents' custody. Depending on the circumstances, a child may then be placed in foster care where they may remain for an undeterminable amount of time.
If you've been following the news lately about the legalization of same-sex marriages in other states, you may have come across stories that have talked about the related legal issues the state's legislatures must also address such as divorce, child custody and adoptions. After reading these stories, one can't help but remember when our own state legislature faced the same challenging task.
When a family is considering adoption, there are a number of ways that they can choose to add to their growing family. Multiple routes to adoption are available to Maryland residents, and give families a number of options. Just as conceiving biological child is not the only way to obtain a son or daughter, there is no one "right" path on which to pursue adoption.