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How to Adopt in Ohio

From Cleveland to Columbus, Cincinnati to Toledo, hundreds of families in the Buckeye State choose to complete their families through adoption. Whether you are considering adopting a child or placing your baby for adoption, the following guide provides all the information you need about adoption in Ohio.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Ohio

Each state has different laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. If you are interested in adopting a child in Ohio, the following information will help you better understand the adoption process, laws and qualifications in your state.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Oho?

An unmarried adult or husband and wife jointly may adopt. A married person may adopt without their spouse joining as a petitioner if:

  • The petitioner and his or her spouse are legally separated
  • The petitioner is the child’s stepparent and the petitioner’s spouse supports the adoption
  • The court finds that the failure of the spouse to join in the petition or support the adoption is the result of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity or circumstances that make it impossible to obtain support or refusal of the spouse

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Ohio?

In Ohio, the following expenses may be paid in connection with the adoption:

  • Medical and hospital expenses incurred in connection with prenatal care and delivery
  • Attorney fees for services provided in connection with the placement and adoption
  • Foster care expenses incurred in connection with relinquishment, placement and adoption
  • Living expenses not exceeding $3,000 for the birth mother that are incurred during pregnancy through the sixtieth day after the child’s birth

Expenses charged by the agency arranging the adoption for services provided in connection with the adoption, including the agency’s application fee and home study fees, are permitted. The agency or attorney that arranged the adoption must file with the court a preliminary accounting estimate before the adoption petition is filed with the court.
A final accounting must also be filed with the court before a final decree of adoption is issued. The accounting must specify all disbursements of anything of value the petitioner, agency or attorney made or has agreed to make in connection with the adoption. The agency or attorney must file the final accounting with the court at least 10 days before the scheduled finalization hearing. The final adoption decree cannot be issued until at least 10 days after the final accounting is filed.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in Ohio?

To be a foster parent in Ohio, an individual must be at least 21 years of age and participate in training and an assessment process that evaluates the applicant’s strengths, skills and experiences. The home study process also includes criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks, as well as medical statements for all members of the household and a safety audit and fire inspection of the home.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Ohio?

A decree or certificate of adoption that is issued in accordance with the laws of a foreign country and verified and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be recognized in Ohio.
If a child born in a foreign country is placed with adoptive parents in Ohio, and the adoption was previously finalized in the child’s birth country, the adoptive parents may petition the court to issue a final decree of adoption. At the request of the adoptive parents, their county court will order the Department of Health to issue a foreign birth record for the adopted child.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Ohio?

Only private child-placing agencies, private noncustodial agencies certified by the department or public children services agencies may advertise that a person or entity will adopt children, place children in foster homes or in any manner knowingly play a role in the separation of a child from his or her parent or guardians, except through a juvenile court or probate court commitment.
Prospective adoptive parents must use either an agency or attorney to arrange the adoption. An attorney may not represent both the prospective adoptive parents and the prospective birth parents.
Any person may informally aid or promote an adoption by making prospective adoptive parents aware of a child who is available for adoption.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Ohio

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may have several questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Ohio. The following will help answer some of your questions about Ohio adoption law.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

Consent may be executed any time after 72 hours after the child’s birth. The court will accept the parent’s consent to the adoption only when the parent appears personally before the court and signs the necessary forms. The parents of an infant who is less than six months old may consent to the adoption without personally appearing before a court if both parents execute a notarized statement of consent before the attorney arranging the adoption and sign the necessary forms.
The court will question the parent to determine that the parent understands the adoption process, the ramifications of consenting to the adoption, and that the consent is being made voluntarily. In a stepparent adoption, the parent who is not married to the adopting stepparent may execute consent in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgements, rather than appearing personally before a court.
If a parent of a child to be adopted resides in another state, the parent may consent to the adoption by executing consent in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgment.

Who must consent to the adoption?

In Ohio, written consent must be executed by:

  • The child’s mother
  • The child’s father if any of the following apply:
    • He was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born
    • He is the adoptive father of the child
    • A court determined that he has a parent-child relationship with the child prior to the filing of the adoption petition
    • He acknowledged paternity of the child
  • The putative father
  • Any person or agency having permanent custody or authorization to consent
  • The child, if he or she is age 12 or older

When is consent not needed?

Consent is not required when a parent has failed to communicate or support the child for at least one year, parental rights have been terminated, the parent is withholding consent unreasonably or their failure to consent is due to prolonged absence or unavailability, the child was conceived as the result of rape, or when the court, agency, or person fails to object within 14 days to a notice of a petition for adoption.
The putative father is not required to consent if he failed to register with the putative father registry within 30 days of the child’s birth or if the court finds that he is not the father or that he abandoned the child and the child’s mother.

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

Consent to adoption may be withdrawn prior to the entry of the adoption decree if the court finds that the withdrawal is in the best interests of the child and the court orders withdrawal of consent. Consent is irrevocable after the entry of a final adoption decree.

What rights does the father of the baby have in Ohio adoptions?

In Ohio, a man is presumed to be a child’s father if:

  • He is or was married to the child’s mother, and the child is or was born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
  • He and the child’s mother attempted to legally marry each other before the child’s birth, but the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the end of the marriage or cohabitation
  • He has filed an acknowledgement of paternity

A man who has intercourse with a woman is on notice that if a child is born as a result and he is the putative father, the child may be adopted without his consent. A putative father is a man who may be a child’s father and is not married to the child’s mother, has not adopted the child, has not been determined to be the legal father of the child and has not acknowledged paternity of the child. The Department of Job and Family Services has established a putative father registry. A putative father may register no later than 30 days after the birth of the child.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Ohio

Prior to becoming an adoptive or foster parent in Ohio, you must complete a home study. Following the adoption process, you will also be required to complete a post-placement assessment. The home study is a mutual evaluation process that assesses your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.

What is included in the Ohio home study process?

The Ohio home study includes:

  • Documentation of current marital status
  • A financial statement
  • Criminal records checks
  • Checks of the central registry of abuse and neglect for each adoptive applicant and each adult household member in every state in which the person has resided in the past five years
  • Personal interviews with all members of the household older than age 4
  • A medical statement documenting that all members of the household are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy enough to care for the adopted child
  • Three references
  • Fire safety inspection
  • Testing by an approved Ohio water testing laboratory, if deemed necessary

Who is included in the home study process?

Each adult member of the applicants’ household is included in the study.

Who will conduct the home study?

An Ohio home study may be conducted by an assessor who meets the following requirements:

  • Be an employed or appointed by a court, public children services agency, private child-placing agency or private noncustodial agency
  • Be a professional counselor, social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed psychologist, a student working toward a degree in social or behavior science, a civil service employee engaging in social work without a license, or a former employee of a public children services agency who previously served as an assessor
  • Complete the required training

When must the home study be completed? When does the home study need to be updated?

The agency will initiate the home study upon receiving the completed adoption application. The home study must be completed and approved before placement and should be updated every two years.

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Ohio?

The home study will not be approved if an adoptive parent or adult resident of the home has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to offenses including cruelty to animals, homicide, assault, kidnapping, sex offenses, arson, robbery, a weapons offense or drug-related offenses.

What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Ohio?

Within seven days of an adoption placement, the assessor will begin monthly home visits until the final adoption decree is issued. The post-placement visits will evaluate the progress of the placement. The adoption decree will not be issued until at least six months after placement. After the post-placement assessment is completed, a written report will be prepared including information on the following:

  • The child’s and parents’ adjustment to the adoptive placement
  • The needs of the child and parents for adoption-related services
  • The child’s physical, mental and developmental health
  • The child’s birth family background
  • The reasons for the placement
  • The parents’ and child’s attitude toward the proposed adoption (if age appropriate for the child)
  • The placement’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable
  • The child’s psychological background, including prior abuse and behavioral problems

What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Ohio?

The monthly home visit requirement does not apply to stepparent adoptions unless it is ordered by the court in the best interests of the child. The final order of adoption will be issued six months after the filing of the petition or after the child has lived in the home for at least six months.

What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?

Any interstate adoption is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?

If the child has resided in the foster home for at least six months, the foster parent may apply for an agency to arrange an adoption. The agency will not require that the foster parent undergo an additional home study as a prospective adoptive parent.
In Ohio, you are required to obtain a home study prior to an adoption placement. Contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:

  • Adoption by Gentle Care800-824-9633Adoption by Gentle Care is a state licensed, nonprofit, full service adoption agency whose accredited adoption assessors offer domestic adoption home studies throughout Ohio.
  • Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc.866-321-2367
    Building Blocks Adoptions is an Ohio-licensed Christian adoption agency that offers services through its domestic, embryo and international adoption programs.
  • Adoption Circle800-927-7222
    Adoption Circle is a state licensed, full-service, nonprofit adoption agency that provides home study and other services to adoptive families and birth parents in Ohio.

Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about Ohio home study providers.

Ohio Adoption Professionals

When you are ready to begin the adoption process, your adoption professional can work with you to answer your questions and arrange necessary adoption services. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing Ohio adoptions and can help guide you through your adoption journey:

For more information about foster care in Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services or view their handbook for prospective adoptive families.  

Things to do in Ohio

Whether you visit Ohio to meet prospective birth parents or are waiting for ICPC approval, there is plenty to keep you busy in the Buckeye State. Here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay in Ohio:

For more information about traveling to Ohio, visit http://www.discoverohio.com/.

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