Frequently Asked Questions About Adoptions
Who May Adopt?
- A married couple, jointly
- A stepparent
- An unmarried adult
**Foster parents are encouraged to adopt**
Who May Be Adopted?
- A minor child
- An Adult, who:
- Is determined to be totally and permanently disabled.
- Is determined to be developmentally disabled as defined by law.
- Had a stepparent or foster parent relationship while the adoptee was a minor.
- If the adult was, at the time of the adult's eighteenth birthday, in the permanent custody of a public children services agency or a private child placing agency, and the adult consents to the adoption.
What are the Types of Adoptions?
- Stepparent: The person seeking to adopt is a stepfather or stepmother of the person to be adopted. The parent whose parental rights are being terminated must consent unless that consent is not required by law.
- Agency: The parties use the services of a licensed adoption agency. The birth parents either voluntarily surrender custody of the child directly to the agency, or the Juvenile Court has terminated their parental rights. The Probate Court's involvement will be at the final stages when the Court reviews the matter to give final approval.
- Private: The parties use the services of a private attorney who facilitates the adoption and acts as an intermediary between the adopting parents and the birth parents. The birth parents appear before the Probate Court to place the child for adoption, which occurs not less than three days after the birth of the child. The Court holds a second hearing with the adopting parents present to grant a Temporary Order of Adoption which will generally become permanent in six months.
- Interstate: This proceeding occurs when a child is born in one state and the adopting persons are residents of another state. In all instances, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the equivalent agency from the other state must be involved through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The Probate Court will supervise these proceedings as required by law.
- Foreign: This is an adoption in which a child is born in another country and is adopted by an Ohio family. Most often an adoption is done under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction with a second adoption proceeding held in Ohio, primarily to obtain an Ohio birth certificate.
On occasion, the adopting parents are given guardianship of the minor by the foreign jurisdiction, and an original adoption proceeding is held in Ohio.
In both types of foreign adoption, a licensed adoption agency is frequently retained to investigate the adopting family and issue a report of its findings and recommendation.
The Role of the Assessor
In stepparent, agency, and private adoptions, the services of an adoption assessor are used to investigate the adopting family and prepare a report called a home study. The home study contains basic information about the adopting family and the assessor's recommendation. This information will assist the Court in determining whether the adopting family is suitable to adopt and whether the approval of the adoption is in the best interest of the adoptee.
Is a Home Study Always Necessary?
Except for the adoption of an adult, a home study is required in every adoption, and will be conducted by an adoption agency or a Probate Court Assessor.
Who Must Consent to the Adoption?
Generally, the legal parent(s) of the minor to be adopted, a minor child being adopted who is over the age of 12, and an adult adoptee must consent. However, many laws apply as to who must consent and when the Court may dispense with the consent. Any questions concerning consent should be directed to an attorney.
Can A Putative Father Preserve His Rights?
A putative father is a man who may be the father of the child, but is not legally recognized as such. He can preserve his rights as father of the child by registering with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Putative Father Registry or by mailing written registration forms to The Ohio Putative File Registry, Department of Job and Family Services, PO Box 182709, Columbus, 43218-2709. This must be done either before the birth of the child or not later than fifteen days after the birth. No fee is charged to the putative father for this registration. The telephone number for the Franklin County area is (614) 728-9659, and the toll free number is 1-888-313-3100. For more information please visit the the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Putative Father Registry webpage.
Where Should an Adoption be Filed?
The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over adoptions. One may file a petition in the Probate Court of the County where any of the following apply:
- The agency having custody of the child is located.
- The child was born.
- The person or persons seeking to adopt reside.
- The home of record for a person stationed in military service.
- Where the birth parent(s) reside.
Is a Court Appearance Required?
It is mandatory that adopting parent(s) and the child appear at the Probate Court hearing unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
Is the Birth Certificate Changed?
The original birth certificate will be sealed, and a new birth certificate issued. The adopting parent or parents will be reflected on the new birth certificate, just as though they had been the birth parents.
Adopted children born in Ohio or a foreign country, receive their new birth certificates from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Columbus, Ohio. Children adopted in Ohio, but born in other states, obtain their new birth certificates from the Bureau of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency in the state where they were born.
Is It Necessary to Have an Attorney?
The adopting parents shall be represented by an attorney. The Probate Court will appoint an attorney to represent a birth parent in all cases where the birth parent is a minor, under legal disability, or upon the request of the birth parent, when the birth parent is appearing before the Court to place the child for adoption. Adoptions of an adult or a foreign adoption may be exempted from this requirement.
Where Can I Obtain More Information in Franklin County About Adoptions?
Any attorney who practices in the area of adoptions can provide information, and they can be found through the Lawyer Referral Service of the Columbus Bar Association, telephone (614) 221-0754. There are also several adoption agencies which can be found in the classified section of the Columbus telephone directory under Adoption Services.
Can An Adoption Be Open?
Due to recent changes in Ohio law, an adoption of a child not related to the adopting couple may now be open. If all parties to the adoption agree, the birth parents and the adopting parents may know each other's identity. Otherwise, the adoption will be closed and the identity of the parties remains confidential. Any agreements made by the birth parents and the adopting parents for post adoption communication and contact are not enforceable by a Court in this state after the adoption has become final.
Are Adoption Records Accessible?
Due to the changes in the Ohio laws over the years the accessibility of adoption records depends upon the date of finalization of the adoption.
Upon written request and payment of a fee, persons adopted prior to 1964 may obtain a copy of their adoption records on file with the State of Ohio, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
For adoption records for persons adopted between 1964 and September 18, 1996, a person age 21 or older or the adoptive parent of an adopted person over the age of 18 and under the age of 21, may request a copy of the contents of the adoption file from the State of Ohio, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. The Bureau of Vital Statistics will release that copy upon payment of the appropriate fee unless there is an effective denial of release from either birth parent.
At the discretion of the Court, non-identifying and medical information may be released to the adopted person upon showing of identification and written request. Very little of this information was provided to this Court prior to September 18, 1996.
For further information on this topic you should contact an attorney.