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Ohio Adoption Laws

What adoption laws will affect you and your family as you pursue a legal adoption in Ohio?

The United States does not have a federal set of adoption laws that trickle down into state law. Rather, adoption laws vary from state to state. As a resident of Ohio, it is important to become familiar with the Ohio adoption guidelines.

As a hopeful adoptive parent in Ohio, it is essential that you understand the laws that regulate Ohio adoption, so we have collected some commonly asked questions about Ohio adoption law that will give you what you need to start your adoption journey. While this article should not be taken as legal advice, we hope it gives you a better sense of some important laws that could impact your process.

If you think it would be helpful to speak directly with an adoption professional, you can contact us today. We’d be happy to connect you with a trustworthy adoption agency.

1. Who is eligible to adopt in Ohio?

Ohio adoption statutes require that you must be 18 or older to adopt a child. While in a few states there is adoption criteria that requires couples be married to adopt, Ohio allows single individuals to adopt. It should be noted, however, that agencies often have standards that can be stricter than the law. For example, they often require adoptive parents to be 21 or 22 before partnering with them.

Ohio adoption law allows for the following:

  1. A husband and wife may adopt jointly.
  2. A married same-sex couple may adopt jointly.
  3. An unmarried adult may adopt
  4. A married person may adopt without their spouse joining if:
    • The couple is legally separated.
    • The petitioner is the child’s stepparent and has the support of his/her spouse.
    • The court finds it an undue hardship to obtain support or refusal of the spouse

2. Who can arrange an adoption in Ohio?

Choosing an adoption professional will be one of the first steps in your adoption journey. In some states, adoption facilitators are available to work with, but this is one adoption restriction in Ohio. In this state, you must partner with either an agency or an attorney to complete an adoption. Most hopeful parents choose to work with a full-service adoption agency. When it comes to adoption agencies in Ohio, you have plenty of options.

3. What birth parent expenses may be paid by adoptive families?

Ohio adoption policies regulate the kinds of expenses that can be covered by adoptive families. These rules are made to ensure that consent to an adoption is not influenced by extraneous gifts. It is illegal to exchange money, gifts, or favors for the placement of a child into adoption, but reasonable living expenses can be covered to help alleviate the financial burden of an unplanned pregnancy.

According to Ohio adoption rules, the following expenses may be paid by hopeful adoptive parents:

  • Medical and hospital costs connected to the prospective birth mother’s prenatal care and the baby’s delivery.
  • Attorney fees billed for services provided in connection to the adoption.
  • Foster care expenses related to relinquishment, placement, and adoption.
  • Living expenses during pregnancy through the sixtieth day after the child’s birth (but not exceeding $3,000).

4. When and how can birth parents consent to an Ohio adoption?

In order for an adoption to be finalized, there must be a legal transfer of parental rights. When birth parents voluntarily terminate their parental rights, they legally consent to the adoption.  

Ohio adoption consent laws state that consent may be executed any time 72 hours after a child’s birth.

The birth parent must appear personally before the court in order for their consent to the adoption to be accepted. The exceptions to this rule are:

  • When the child being adopted is six months or younger and the parents execute a notarized statement of consent. This is the most common form of consent given in a domestic infant adoption.
  • When a stepparent is adopting and the parent who is not married to the adopting stepparent and gives consent in the presence of a notary or other authority authorized to take an acknowledgment.
  • When the parent lives in a different state and so they consent to the adoption by executing consent in the presence of a notary or other authority authorized to take acknowledgement.

5. Who do Ohio adoption consent laws say must consent?

In Ohio, written consent must be executed by:

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

6. When do Ohio adoption consent laws say that consent is unnecessary?

The following are some situations when Ohio adoption statutes do not require consent:

  • A parent has neglected to communicate with or support the child for a year or more.
  • Parental rights have been terminated.
  • A parent is unreasonably withholding consent
  • The child was conceived as a result of rape.
  • The court, agency, or person does not object to a notice of petition for adoption within 14 days.

Additionally, Ohio adoption laws that pertain to the putative father state that he is not required to consent to the adoption if:

  • He fails to register with the putative father registry within 30 days of the child’s birth.
  • He is found to not be the father of the child.
  • He has abandoned the child and his or her mother.

7. What is the Ohio adoption revocation period?

In short, the Ohio adoption waiting period is 72 hours. Consent or Surrender may not be taken until this waiting period has passed and the assessor has met with the birth parent(s). Unless revocation is in the best interests of the child, the birth parent(s) must participate in an interlocutory hearing prior to revoking an executed consent.

8. What Ohio adoption laws apply to adopting via foster care?

When adopting through foster care, most parents first foster a child. While it is not the only way to adopt through foster care, the same requirements apply to those who adopt an eligible child without first fostering.

To be a foster parent in Ohio, you must be 21 years old. You must complete applicable trainings and undergo a home study that evaluates your merits, experiences, and readiness to be a parent. You will submit to a criminal background check, child abuse registry check, and provide documents that serve as evidence of your financial and medical suitability to welcome a child into your home. 

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. All information herein should be considered with the guidance of a licensed adoption professional or attorney.

If you have further questions about Ohio’s existing legal requirements, contact us today to be connected with a helpful adoption professional.