The moment that most hopeful adoptive parents visualize as the final step in adoption is when they finally get to hold their baby in their arms or welcome their child into their home.
And while this is a deeply meaningful part of the adoption journey, the truth is that the finalization of your Ohio adoption does not occur until about six months after this moment. During this final step, you will obtain an Ohio adoption certificate – otherwise known as an adoption decree - and move forward into life with your child.
Though finalization is a fairly simple process, you will need to work in partnership with an experienced adoption professional. Instead of trying to file for adoption in Ohio by yourself and wondering if you are meeting all the requirements, you are much better off working with a professional who can guide you through the process. The experience that an adoption professional will bring will leave you no doubt that you are fully prepared for a finalization hearing.
You’ve poured your life into this decision, so you want to know that all your hard work and vulnerability will end in a successful adoption. To that end, we’ve put together this guide that will help you gain insight into the Ohio adoption finalization process.
And if you’re ready to speak with an adoption professional right away, you can contact us today to be connected with an agency.
What are the requirements for an Ohio adoption finalization?
Ohio adoption finalization certifies that all state adoption laws have been followed throughout the adoption process. While each state’s laws vary from one another, every adoption must meet the following standards:
- Termination of your child’s birth parents’ parental rights: Before parental rights can be transferred to you, the adoptive parent, parental rights of both birth parents must be legally and ethically terminated. Whether the parents voluntarily relinquish their rights or the court legally terminates them, this is a requirement that must precede adoption finalization in Ohio.
- Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Clearance: ICWA is a federal law aimed at preserving American Indian tribes and families. There are certain specific legal proceedings that must take place when an American Indian child from a recognized tribe is involved. If applicable, finalization requires confirmation that ICWA clearances were conducted by the adoption attorney.
- Post-placement home study visits: When a child is placed with you initially, the court with jurisdiction over the child will retain jurisdiction until the adoption becomes legal. During this time period, a caseworker will visit your home at least every 30 days and update written progress reports to submit to the court.
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Clearance: ICPC clearance is required when and if the child crossed state lines for the purpose of adoption. ICPC functions as a checks and balances system between states to ensure that the adoption is legal and the environment that the child is placed in is safe.
Since all steps of the adoption process are scrutinized during finalization, it is important that you work closely with your chosen adoption professional throughout your adoption journey so that everything is attended to and that all steps are completed legally and ethically.
What can you expect at an Ohio finalization hearing?
An Ohio adoption finalization takes place in a court or online, and usually occurs between three months and a year after placement. Your attorney will provide you with all the necessary paperwork and notify you of the scheduled date and time for finalization. The hearing, which will likely last about 30-60 minutes, will consist of the following:
- A swearing-in of your family, your attorney, and possibly your social worker
- Questions from your attorney about your motivations and intentions as they relate to adoption
- Questions from the judge
- Verbal consent from a child who is 12 years old or older.
- A family picture in the courthouse
- The signing of an Ohio adoption certificate by the judge
Many adoptive families invite friends and family to the hearing and follow the finalization hearing with a celebration of a new family unit.
Adoption is a legally binding agreement, and it is extremely rare that an adoption is challenged in court by a child’s birth parent. Once this finalization is complete, your family is bound by the law and can focus solely on bonding as the family unit you’ve envisioned from the start.
What court handles adoption in Ohio?
Adoption finalization will be handled through your Ohio county probate court. Your attorney will inform you of the location, time, and other essential details regarding your Ohio finalization hearing.
What post-adoption services in Ohio are available to me?
When your Ohio adoption is finalized, you can then apply for your child’s amended birth certificate in which you will be listed as their natural parents. You will also apply for a new social security card. If you have adopted internationally, you may need to complete the readoption and finalization process in your state to receive these documents.
As you move forward as a family, you might have questions or concerns regarding the role of adoption in your child’s upbringing and development. Adoption specialists will tell you that some adoptees experience the common long-term effects of adoption and parents have similar questions about raising their adopted children. Adoption support groups are a wonderful resource for the continued positive maturation of a family and are a resource you might consider using.
If you have further questions about this final step in the adoption process, contact us today to be connected with a helpful adoption professional.