Notifying an Unknown Birth Father in Maryland Adoptions

How does an attorney notify a birth father in Maryland if he is unknown?

Maryland requires that a birth father be notified of an adoption plan.  In Maryland, notice is given to the birth parent by service on them of a Show Cause Order from the Court, if the birth parent’s address is known.  The Show Cause Order provides the birth parent with the case number, name of the child and where they must file paperwork if they wish to object to the adoption. 

If the birth parent cannot be located or is unknown, the attorney can file a Motion for Alternative Service with the Court where the adoption is pending.  This Motion seeks to serve the birth parent by means other than personal service.  The Motion will seek to serve the birth parent via posting or publication based on their last known place of residence, or if unknown, where conception occurred.

In order to determine this information, an Affidavit of Paternity is completed by the birth mother, which will state, under oath, the facts surrounding the birth father’s last known location, or where conception occurred.  The Affidavit should be detailed and specific so that the court can reasonably infer that the birth father cannot be located for personal service.  In some cases, an Affidavit signed by the Petitioner stating any information they have regarding the birth father will be required (often in step-parent cases).

If the Court is satisfied that the birth father is unknown or cannot be located, the court usually grants the Motion for Alternative Service requiring the attorney to serve the birth father through posting and publication (alternative service).  The Court will order that a notice, which contains the child’s date of birth, place of birth and the birth mother’s name and date of birth, must be posted on the Maryland Department of Human Resources website for 30 days.   The notice will also have to be published in a newspaper of general circulation where the birth parent was last known to be, or where conception occurred.

After the notice has been posted and published, an Affidavit of Service is submitted to the court to confirm that the birth father was served by alternative service.  There are varying times depending on the circumstances of the case before which the court can act after the posting and publication.  

Contact Jennifer Fairfax for a consult about your adoption matter today at 

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“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax