CUYAHOGA PROBATE COURT

Due to a high volume of filings, patrons may experience a delay in processing E-Filed documents. It is recommended that any time-sensitive documents be filed in-person.

Some filings required by Estate fiduciaries may be permitted an extension of time by written request. For more information regarding in-person filings, contact the Clerks Office at 216-443-8786. For information regarding extensions, contact the Accounts Department Supervisor at 216-443-8767.

Adoption

Two Children Types of Adoptions

Adult Adoption

The person to be adopted (adoptee) is an eligible adult.

Agency Adoption

The parties use the services of a licensed adoption agency. The birth parents either voluntarily surrender custody of the child directly to the agency, or the Juvenile Court has terminated their parental rights.

Recognition of Foreign Adoption

This is an adoption in which a child is adopted by an Ohio resident under the laws of a foreign jurisdiction with a second adoption proceeding held in Ohio, primarily to obtain an Ohio Certificate of Foreign Birth.

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 Adoption

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.

Other Types of Adoption

Private Adoption

The parties use the services of a private attorney who facilitates the adoption and acts as an intermediary between the adopting parents and the birth parents.

Guardian/Custodian Adoption

This is an adoption where the person seeking to adopt has custody of the minor through Juvenile Court or is the guardian for the purposes of adoption by the Probate Court.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who may adopt?
1. A married couple jointly
2. Step-parent
3. Single Adult

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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

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Who must consent?
The parents of the child to be adopted, a minor being adopted who is twelve (12) years of age and older, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Can an Adoption be Open?
Yes, an adoption of a child not related to the adopting parents may be "open". In other words, if all parties to the adoption agree, the birth parents and the adopting parents may know each other's identity. Otherwise, the adoption will be closed and the identity of the birth parents will remain confidential. However, any agreements made by the birth parents and the adopting parents for post adoption communication and contact and not enforceable by a court in Ohio.

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Can I electronically file (E-File) a petition for Adoption?
Yes, Applications may be E-Filed using the following Adoption Filing Guide.

Other useful links are below:
E-File Home Page and Login
E-File Account Registration

The following petitions are available for e-filing:

  1. Adult Adoptions
  2. Agency Adoptions
  3. Independent Adoptions
  4. Petition to Recognize Foreign Adoptions
  5. Step-Parent Adoptions

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Adoption Resources

Agencies
Department of Children and Family Services
Jane Edna Hunter Building
3995 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 431-4500
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
Phone: 216-696-3525
Lawyer Referral Service
Ohio State Bar Association
(for referral to attorney who specializes in adoption law)
Vital Statistics
Bureau of Vital Statistics
4200 Surface Road
Columbus, OH 43228
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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