Maryland foster care and adoption guidelines

Congratulations! You’ve made your first step toward adopting or fostering children in Maryland. We are pleased that you have chosen to inquire about services. Our goal is to help you understand the process of adoption and foster care. We are glad to assist you with getting started!

On this page:

Contact information

Foster Care:

If you become a foster parent, the original goal is for the child to reunite with birth family.  Foster parents are essential partners in supporting that goal.  If birth family reunification is not achieved, foster parents are usually the first non-relatives considered to adopt a child.

Please visit the Dept. of Human Services website, select your county or Baltimore City on the right-hand side, and scroll down for your local office’s contact information. 


If you wish to be considered solely for children who are waiting for adoption, please select one of MD’s private adoption agencies.  Each agency can tell you whether they work with adoption from foster care.  

To see contact information for all private adoption agencies in MD, please visit the DHS website and select View Adoption Directory. 


Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

Prospective parents in Maryland can be single or married, including same-sex couples. Some families have birth children, and some don’t. Maryland families don't have to be wealthy to be approved to adopt or provide foster care for a child. All that is necessary is for them to have sufficient financial resources to provide adequate care for a child and to meet the family’s financial responsibilities. Families don’t have to own a home either; they can be renters.

The minimum age to become an adoptive or foster family is 21. There is no maximum age. However, if a resource parent is 60 or older, the local department will observe and document whether their strength is adequate to meet the needs of children in care.

According to state regulations, Maryland families who want to become adoptive or foster care families must complete a minimum of 27 hours of training.

Also, please note that if you are considering a domestic adoption, you don’t have to be a US citizen but you must be a legal resident in the country.

View additional foster care and adoption information available from the Maryland Department of Human Services.

Costs to foster and adopt

There are no fees involved when adopting or fostering a child through your local department of social services.

However, when working with private agencies, there may be fees. These fees may be applied based on a sliding scale according to your family income. There is no state cap on fees in Maryland, so private agencies are free to set their fees upon their discretion.

In many cases, the child’s state may reimburse families or pay directly to the agency for some or all the fees associated with the placement and finalization of adoption.

If you choose to complete your adoption using the services of an attorney, you will be responsible for paying legal fees and courts costs.

When adopting a child with special needs, Maryland families are eligible for a Federal Tax Credit once their adoption has been finalized. This tax credit is intended to help families with the expenses associated with their adoption.

Agency contact and orientation information

Choosing an agency can sometimes be confusing, but is one of the most important steps of this process. You must decide whether you prefer to work with a public or private agency. The best way to decide which agency is best for you and your family is by contacting some of them directly and attending their information sessions or orientations.

There are more than 24 departments of social services locations and 33 licensed private agencies throughout Maryland. To contact a department, please use the lists below:

Please keep in mind that there is no universal orientation provided by the state of Maryland. If you wish to attend an orientation meeting, you must contact the agencies that you are interested in working with and get the orientation schedules directly from them.

Post-adoption support services

See a comprehensive list of post-adoption and guardianship support services and support groups available to families who live in Maryland.

Information on Maryland's children

As of 2022, there are 4,237 children in out-of-home care in Maryland. Of these children, 217 have a plan of adoption, and 133 are legally free for adoption.