Access to Adoption Files
Effective March 20, 2015, the law has changed regarding access to adoption records.
For a copy of your adoption file, you must submit your request to the Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics. The Office of Vital Statistics, retains birth and adoption records of persons born in Ohio and adopted anywhere in the United States.
For instructions and the required forms needed to submit your request please click on the following link:
The accessibility of adoption records depends upon the date of finalization of the adoption. From the ODH website:
Adoptions Prior to January 1, 1964 - Adoption records are open to adoptees whose birth occurred in Ohio, with proper identification. Also available for lineal descendants with proof of identity and genetic linkage.
Adoptions Between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996 - Adoption records are open to adoptees whose birth occurred in Ohio, with proper identification. Also available for lineal descendants with proof of identity and genetic linkage.
Adoptions After September 18, 1996 - Adoption records are open to adoptive parents when the adopted person is between 18-21 years of age. If the adopted person is 21 years or older, the records are open to the adoptee.
For further information on this topic you should contact the Ohio Department of Health, customer service office at (614) 466-2531 or an attorney.
Adoption Network Cleveland: www.AdoptionNetwork.org
Ohio Birthparent Group: www.ohiobirthparents.org
Informational brochures regarding Adoptions.
Adoption & Adoption Records
Who may adopt?
A husband and wife jointly;
- Step-parent; or
- Single Adult
Who may be adopted?
- Minor child; or
- An adult.
What are the types of adoption?
When an agency licensed by the State of Ohio originates the adoption process, Probate Court involvement is limited to the final stages of the adoption. The agency approves the placement, conducts the home study, and recommends the adoption to the Court. Adoption agencies have trained, professional staff, and use legal counsel to insure that adoptions are legally, effectively, and efficiently handled.
- Independent Adoption.
In this instance, a licensed adoption agency is not involved. It is generally handled by a private attorney working directly with the Court. On occasion, the child may be related to persons seeking to adopt, such as a grandchild, niece, nephew, etc. At other times, there is no relationship between the child to be adopted and the petitioners.
The person seeking to adopt is either a step-father or step-mother. The parent whose right is being terminated must consent, unless his or her consent is not required.
- Interstate Adoptions.
Where a child is born in one state and the adopting parents are residents of another state, both States' Departments of Human Services must be involved through the Interstate Compact. The Probate Court will supervise these proceedings.
- Foreign Adoptions.
If an Ohio family adopts a child born in another country, the adoption is considered a Foreign Adoption. Such adoptions may occur in the country of birth or in Ohio. All foreign adoptions must be processed through the U. S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization.
Some foreign adoptions may be appropriate for a less cumbersome process of re-finalization.
- Adult Adoption. An adult may be adopted in the following instances:
- An Adult who is totally and permanently disabled;
- An Adult who is determined to be mentally retarded as defined by O.R.C. 5103.01;or
- An Adult who established a child-foster parent or child-stepparent relationship with the petitioner as a minor.
Who must consent?
The parents of the minor child to be adopted, a minor over the age of 12 years and an adult adoptee must consent to adoption. However, under certain circumstances, the consent of either or both natural parents may be waived. Therefore, questions concerning consent should be directed to an agency or attorney.
What are the rights of an unwed father?
An unwed father, known as a putative father, may preserve his rights to consent to adoption of a child born after January 1, 1997, by registering with the Ohio Department of Human Services, Putative Father Registry. That Registration must occur either prior to birth, or not later than thirty days after birth. To determine the rights of a putative father prior to January 1, 1997, you must contact a licensed agency or attorney. See the section A Where can I obtain information about adoptions?@ which follows for the address of the Putative Father Registry.
What is an open adoption?
As an alternative to a traditional closed adoption where identities are not disclosed, an open adoption may occur when both the natural and adopting parents, prior to the adoption, voluntarily disclose their identities to each other. Open adoption law applies only to non-relative adoptions and may involve a non-binding agreement for contact between the adopted child and the natural parent(s). However, all parental control of the adopted child remains with the adopting parents. For more information on open adoptions, contact an agency or attorney.
Where should I file for adoption?
Since the Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Adoptions, you are required to file in the Probate Court of the County where any one of the following apply:1. The Agency having custody of the child is located.2. The child was born.3. The person or persons seeking to adopt reside.4. The county of residence for a petitioner stationed elsewhere because of Military Service.5. In an independent placement, where the natural parent resides.
Is a Home Study necessary?
Yes. Regardless of the type of adoption, a home study is required as part of the assessment process. An individual known as an assessor, who is qualified and trained for the task, will complete the home study.
Must I have an Attorney?
Yes, only an attorney or agency may arrange an adoption.
Are accountings for fees and costs required?
Yes. Every adoption requires that a preliminary estimate of accounting be filed with the probate court and at the same time as the petition for adoption is filed. Additionally, a final accounting must be filed not later than ten (10) days before the final hearing upon every adoption and the petition to recognize a foreign decree of adoption.
Only certain costs and expenses are allowed under Ohio law and by the local rules of court. Therefore, every petitioner is urged to work closely with their legal counsel.
Must I appear in Court?
Yes, whether adopting through an agency, or independently. The person adopting and the child or children sought to be adopted must appear before the Probate Court for the final hearing. In certain circumstances, other appearances may be required. Exceptions can only be granted by the Court and only upon a showing of good cause.
Is the Birth Certificate changed?
Yes. The original birth certificate will be sealed and a new birth certificate issued. The adopting parent or parents will be reflected on the birth certificate, just as though they had been the biological parents. Adopted children born in Ohio or a foreign country, receive their new birth certificate 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 in the state where they were born.
Where can I obtain information about Adoption?
1. County Offices
The Mahoning County Probate Court
120 Market Street, 1st Floor
Youngstown, Ohio 44503
Phone: (330) 740-2311.
The Mahoning County Children Services Board
222 W. Federal St., 4th Floor
Youngstown, Ohio 44503
Phone: (330) 941-8888.
2. Private Agencies
Local Bar Association (for referral to attorney who specializes in adoption law), Agencies licensed by or through the State of Ohio. (Consult telephone directory).
3. State Agencies
Bureau of Vital Statistics Ohio Department of Health
35 E. Chestnut St., 6th Floor
P. 0. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098
Ohio Putative Father Registry
30 E. Broad Street, Floor 31
Columbus, OH 43266-0423
- Adoptions Prior to January 1, 1964 - Adoption records are open to adoptee's whose birth occurred in Ohio, with proper identification. Also available for lineal descendants with proof of identity and genetic linkage.
- Adoptions Between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996 - Adoption records are open to adoptee's whose birth occurred in Ohio, with proper identification. Also available for lineal descendants with proof of identity and genetic linkage.
- Adoptions After September 18, 1996 - Adoption records are open to adoptive parents when the adopted person is between 18-21 years of age. If the adopted person is 21 years or older, the records are open to the adoptee.
For more information, use the links above or contact Ohio Dept. Vital Records customer service team at (614) 466-2531.