The first step in the family preparation process is to contact the adoption program staff at the Department of Social Services in the county where you reside or staff at a private adoption child placing agency.Check the telephone directory or the Local Offices link on the DHR home page for the telephone number. If you reside in Baltimore City you must call their Foster and Adoption Resource information telephone number, 410-685-8231. Someone will inform you of the next Foster/Adoption Parent Informational Meeting. Local department staffs responsible for preparing families for adoption conduct the meetings. They will provide information about adoption as it pertains to the children in their caseload needing adoptive families and children statewide needing families. Home study requirements will be discussed. Please know that all families are dually approved for foster care and adoption even though you may be only interested in one or the other service. You will also be given details about the mandatory 27 hour Child Welfare League of America PRIDE pre-service training. At that point you may be asked to complete a registration form and you may be given an application packet. You and other prospective adoptive parents will also have an opportunity to ask questions at the meeting.
Once pre-service training is completed, the individual portion of the home study is conducted. If all goes well you will be approved for adoption. The process should take no more than 90 – 120 days from the date of application. At some point after you have completed the application, the agency will submit a criminal background check request for state and federal clearances. These clearances are done by the Maryland State Police.
If you decide to have a home study done by the public local department of social service for your county, you will not be charged a fee. In exchange for a free home study, public agencies expect families they have prepared to accept the children for whom they are responsible for adoptive placement.
As stated above you may choose to have your home study prepared by a private child placing agency. However if you decide to use a private agency, the agency will charge a fee for the home study to help cover administrative costs. Pre-placement and placement services are extra. The directory for private agencies may be found at the Licensing of Private Agencies link.