|Frequently Asked Questions
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. In certain cases, the Court=s own staff assessors may be utilized at no charge to the person(s) requesting an adoption.
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.
Access to Adoption files? Petition for Release of Identifying Information
Adoption files are confidential and closed to the public. Nevertheless, the adoptee or adopting parents may obtain the following information by filing a petition for the release of such information with the appropriate probate court.
1. Medical Information:
Generally, all adoption records are open for the purpose of obtaining the medical background of biological parents. The court or agency involved in the adoption should be contacted for that information.
2. Identifying Information - Biological Parents: Affidavit of Adopted Person
For adoptions prior to 1964, copies of the original birth certificate may be obtained from the appropriate State Bureau of Vital Statistics. For adoptions finalized between 1964-1996, adoption records are closed. Identifying information may be released only if the biological parent(s), or an adult sibling, has signed a Release of Information. For adoptions finalized after 9-18-96 adoption records are considered open, unless the biological parent(s) have requested that identifying information be withheld. The individual State Bureau of Vital Statistics should be contacted.
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 Department of Human Services
30 E. Broad Street, Floor 31
Columbus, OH 43266-0423
Phone: (614) 466-8207
Ohio Putative Father Registry
30 E. Broad Street, Floor 31
Columbus, OH 43266-0423
The Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, houses birth and adoption records of persons born in Ohio and adopted anywhere in the United States. Below is the list of adoption laws and procedures that are used in Ohio:
- Adoptions Prior to January 1, 1964 - Adoption records open to adoptee who was born and adopted 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 - Due to a recent change in law adoptees can gain access to their adoption file and original Birth Record from the Ohio Department of Health. There is a one-year waiting period before any records will be released. The first day adoptees and their lineal descendants may request the adoption file is March 20, 2015. Between now and then, biological birth parents can complete the Birth Parent Information Packet for more information click the link directly above.
- 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. Records will only be opened if the required documentation and releases are on file.