After months and months of waiting, you are finally home in Maryland with your Child and other than a few post-adoption home placement visits, you think you are done with the adoption process and can finally breathe easily that your Child is here! While your adoption is indeed “official” and while you may have been told your Child has U.S. Citizenship, there is still one more task you need to complete to truly finish the process.
One more step once you are in Maryland with your child
Did you know that when you adopt a child internationally, there is still one more step to complete once your international adoption is finalized? In order for your Child to receive a Maryland birth certificate, formerly called a “Certificate of Foreign Birth,” it is first necessary for you to obtain a Judgment of Adoption, signed by a Circuit Court Judge. We begin this process by filing a Petition for Re-Adoption.
Why do I need a Maryland Birth Certificate?
Having a Maryland-issued birth certificate might very well be required for the registration of your Child in many activities, ranging from being permitted to play on a sports team to enrolling in school. Your Child may also need it for obtaining a driver’s license, getting married one day, replacing a social security card, and also applying for a passport. Also, if your original foreign adoption paperwork becomes lost or destroyed, it often will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to be replaced by the foreign country. This is why it is crucial for you also to have a Maryland-issued birth certificate.
Doesn’t my Child have U.S. Citizenship already? Why do I need this too?
You might be saying, I thought my child had automatic U.S. Citizenship once I adopted her/him, why do I need this too? The simple answer is that while she/he may have U.S. Citizenship, it does not mean you are holding a Birth Certificate in your hands when it comes to the examples above. It will be infinitely easier and less headache for you and your Child to simply hand over a copy of the Birth Certificate when asked, rather than ask if XYZ documents are acceptable.
When do I start this process?
You may be asking when you should do this. My experience has been that the sooner you start this process, the easier it will be for you. The process requires the gathering of paperwork that you needed and was issued during your foreign adoption. Before you file all of it away, it is smart to talk with an attorney now so they can make copies of the documents they will need to attach to the Petition for Re-Adoption. Most often, I have represented families where the adoptee is less than 5 years old. If your child is older than 5, it is not too late, it just may take you longer to find the paperwork I will need from you.
What happens next?
After the Petition for Re-Adoption and the paperwork is filed, we wait for it to be approved by the Court. At this point, the Court may ask for additional documentation. Finally, the Court will schedule a brief hearing. This is the fun part. Adoption Days in the Courthouse are always the happiest. Oftentimes the Judge will even let you take pictures and may even have a small keepsake to give your Child. During COVID, these proceedings have taken place online. All in all, the hearings are short and a pleasant formality. After the hearing, the Court will issue a Judgment of Adoption and send in the paperwork for the Maryland Birth Certificate. A short while later, the Division of Vital Records will mail you the official Maryland Birth Certificate (called a Certificate of Foreign Birth).
I don’t understand, all of this paperwork, and I still don’t get something that says “Birth Certificate” on it – it just says “Certificate of Foreign Birth” ?
You might be saying, I don’t understand, all of this paperwork, and I still don’t get something that says “Birth Certificate” on it – it just says “Certificate of Foreign Birth.” Don’t fret! Even a baby born here in Maryland only gets something called a “Certificate of Live Birth.” In Maryland, they are the same thing. The final document will be an official Maryland document, from the Division of Vital Records, multicolored, and with an embossed seal.
Do I need a lawyer?
While you are not required to obtain legal counsel, it certainly takes out the headache to have someone else do this process on your behalf, take out the guesswork, and hold your hand.
I help families throughout Maryland with the entire readoption process, from start to finish with a flat fee rate. Contact me to get started.
Opinions and conclusions in this post are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. The author has provided the links referenced above for information purposes only and by doing so, does not adopt or incorporate the contents.