Adoption



Types of Adoptions

Agency
When an agency licensed by the State of Ohio originates and handles the adoption process, Probate Court involvement is limited to the final stages of the adoption. It is the agency who 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 Cuyahoga County, a licensed agency is not required in cases where the child is related to the persons seeking to adopt (such as a grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.). A private attorney may work directly with the court in these cases. Otherwise, if no legal relationship exists between the child and the persons seeking to adopt, an agency licensed by the State of Ohio must be involved in the adoption.

Step-parent
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. Adoption 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who may adopt?
1. A husband and wife jointly 
2. Step-parent
3. Single Adult

Who may be adopted?
1. Minor child
2. An adult person determined to be totally and permanently disabled or mentally retarded
3. An adult may adopt another adult provided a parent-child relationship existed during the adoptee's minority

Who must consent?
The parents of the child to be adopted, a minor being adopted who is over the age of 12 years, and an adult adoptee must consent to adoption. However, under certain circumstances, consent may be waived. Therefore, questions concerning consent should be directed to an agency or attorney.

Is a Home Study Necessary?
Yes. Regardless of the type of adoption, a home study is required. An individual known as an assessor, who is qualified and trained for the task, will complete the home study.

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.

Must I Appear in Court?
Yes. It is mandatory, whether adopting through an agency, or independently, that the person adopting and the child or children sought to be adopted appear before the Probate Court for the final hearing. In certain circumstances, there may be other appearances required. Any exceptions can only be granted by the Court for good cause shown.

Must I have an Attorney?
In Cuyahoga County, it is not required that an attorney be involved in the adoption process. However, in the case of a contested adoption, representation by counsel is strongly recommended.

What are the Rights of an Unwed Father?
An unwed father, known as a putative father, may preserve his rights to consent to an adoption of a child born after January 1, 1997, by registering with the Ohio Department of Human Services, Putative Father Registry. Registration must occur either prior to birth, or no later than thirty days after birth. As to the rights of a putative father prior to January 1, 1997, contact an agency or attorney.

What is an Open Adoption?
As an alternative to a traditional closed adoption where identities are not disclosed, an open adoption occurs 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.

What is the Access to Adoption Files?
Adoption files are confidential, and closed to the public. The adoptee or adopting parents, however, may obtain the following information:

  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:
    • Prior to 1964: copies of the original birth certificate may be obtained from the State Bureau of Vital Statistics.
    • 1964-1996: Adoption records for this period are closed. Identifying information will be released only if the biological parent(s), or an adult sibling, has signed a Release of Information.
    • 1996 to date: Since September 18, 1996, adoption records are open unless the biological parent(s) have requested that identifying information be withheld. The State Bureau of Vital Statistics should be contacted.

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Where can I Obtain Information About Adoptions?
Check your telephone book if an address or telephone number is not listed below:

COUNTY OFFICES
Probate Court
1 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216-443-8764
or 216-443-8765
Department of Children and Family Services
Jane Edna Hunter Building
3995 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 431-4500
PRIVATE AGENCIES
Local Bar Association
(for referral to attorney who specializes in adoption law)
STATE AGENCIES
Office of Vital Statistics
Ohio Department of Health
225 Neilston Street
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098
Ohio Putative Father Registry
30 E. Broad Street, 32nd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
30 E. Broad Street, 32nd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

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