*The information contained on this site is not intended to act as legal advice but is merely intended to be informative for those considering growing their families through adoption and foster care.*
Who can adopt in Ohio?
Section 3107.03 of the Ohio Revised Code (1) a husband and wife together, at least one of whom is an adult; (2) single adult; (3) the unmarried minor parent of the child to be adopted; (4) a step parent; or (5) a married adult without the other spouse joining in certain situations.
There are a variety of requirements set out for all adoptive parents in order to be eligible to adopt. This list is merely intended to give you an idea of what is required but is not necessarily a comprehensive list, as some agencies or counties may have additional requirements outside of this list. Among other criteria, every adoptive parent in Ohio must meet the following requirements as a portion of their adoption homestudy: (1) a minimum age limit of 18 years of age, (2) have enough living space and sleeping space to add child(ren); (3) pass a fire inspection and a safety inspection of their home; (4) go through fingerprinting and background checks; (5) have sufficient income to cover household expenses before the addition of a child; (6) provide personal and/or employment references; and (7) undergo a medical exam whereby the doctor certifies that the individual is able to meet the needs of a child until adulthood.
How long does it take to adopt?
The timeframe associated with adoption varies based upon the type of adoption that you choose for your family. International adoption varies drastically by country. Domestic private agency adoption varies by the agency, but 1-2 years from homestudy completion to “match” is a good approximation. Private non-agency adoption varies by a larger degree because the adoptive parents are usually charged with making the “match.” Adopting through foster care can be almost immediate, or it can take quite a while too. This varies significantly based upon whether you foster a child who is already legally free for adoption (i.e. Permanent Custody has already been granted to the State), or whether you are fostering a child that is only in the Interim or Temporary Custody of the State.
Why does it take so long for a match to be made?
Adoption is a very indepth process. Present statistics indicate that the volume of domestic infants placed for adoption has decreased; however, there remain well over 400,000 children in foster care and approximately 117,000 of those children are legally free for adoption in the public child welfare system (and 30,000 age out of the system every year without having a forever family!), according to https://www.davethomasfoundation.org/about-us/faq
. If you are anxious to start growing your family, contact your local public child welfare system to obtain the foster parent and/or foster-to-adopt training course schedule. An adoption professional can also assist you with accessing listings online of children who are legally free for adoption through the public child welfare agencies.
Can I adopt more than one child at a time?
Yes. The language of your homestudy, as well as your answers on the Child Characteristics Checklist, will impact the number of children that may be placed in your home or the ages and other criteria of the children that may be placed in your home. As such, if it is your intention to adopt more than one child at a time, be sure to let your social worker know when you commence your homestudy process. Additionally, if you think you may expand the age range of child(ren) you seek to adopt, you should consider commencing the homestudy process with a less conservative approach to save money for amendments/updates to the homestudy.
Who has to consent to an adoption?
Depending on the situation, some of the individuals from whom you may need consent include the birth parents, the permanent custodial agency, minors over the age of twelve and adults adoptees. However, in some circumstances consent can be waived. Speak with an adoption professional about the specific details of your situation.
How is the court involved?
The person(s) adopting the child(ren) and the child(ren) to be adopted must appear before the Probate Court for at least one hearing before the Final Decree of Adoption will be signed by the Magistrate or Judge. The Magistrate or Judge will review all filed information prior to the hearing and take the testimony of the person(s) adopting, as well as others, if needed, in order to determine whether the Petition for Adoption should be granted.
Why do I have to hire an attorney to adopt a child?
You may not. The type of adoption that you pursue, the county in which you desire to finalize the adoption and the facts of your particular case will determine whether you need to retain counsel. It is possible that you can complete the adoption without an attorney. However, hiring an attorney to walk you through the process, file the paperwork for you, attend the hearing(s) with you and explain the process to you step-by-step will likely make your adoption journey significantly less stressful (and hopefully more exciting!). NOTE: Hiring an attorney with little to no experience in adoption may not better your circumstances anymore than proceeding pro se
. You can find a list of very experienced adoption attorneys who have been invited to join the elite American Academy of Adoption Attorneys here: https://www.adoptionart.org/find-an-attorney/
What is the difference between public and private adoption?
Adoptions can be processed through a private adoption agency, a public child welfare agency or a private adoption attorney. The fees associated with the different types of adoption vary drastically based upon the type of adoption that you pursue. For more detailed information, please contact Ginn Law Office, LLC directly.
What is a legal placement?
In order for an adoption to complete, the adoptive parents must have legal placement of the adoptee. Some of the ways adoptive placement may be achieved include: placement through an adoption agency (which agency holds permanent custody of the child to be adopted), ICPC approval, an Entry Approving Placement through a probate court, a Guardianship Order, Order for Legal Custody (note: this may have other names in states outside of Ohio) or marriage between the adoptee's legal parent and step-parent. Thus, there are a variety of options available for placement which allows for adoption.
What is an open adoption?
Open adoption is an arrangement where the adoptive parent(s) and the birth parent(s) agree to remain in contact after the placement of the child in the home of the adoptive parent(s). The level of contact varies based upon the particular agreement reached by the parties and can range from one letter or picture a year to regular visits. Every situation is unique and should be handled differently. Ohio law allows for non-legally binding open adoption contracts. One should never enter into an open adoption agreement that s/he does not intend to honor, even if it is not legally-binding.
Do I have a guarantee that a birth mother or biological father will not take away my adopted child?
In most situations, once the adoption is finalized, the birth parents' rights are permanently extinguished. Prior to finalization of the adoption, the rights of the birth parent vary based upon the type of adoption that you pursue (i.e. private (non-agency) adoption, public agency adoption and private agency adoption). If you are completing an interstate adoption, the adoption laws of the other State may impact the answer to this question as well. Contact an adoption professional regarding the specific details of your situation to help you make a more informed decision.
What is the process to adopt from foster care?
This process varies a bit in Ohio, depending on when you become involved. You are able to become an approved home for foster care placements, which means that it is anticipated that the children placed in your home will ultimately reunify with a biological family member. This is often a lengthy process, and great foster families are desperately needed across the State. In this situation, the foster family views its role as TEMPORARY and focuses on providing the child with the most stability and best opportunities during the length of time the child is in their home. While this can be very difficult emotionally, it is important to understand that the goal in nearly all cases is reunification. Sometimes, the ultimate goal changes from reunification to permanent custody of a child. If permanent custody of a child is obtained by the JFS agency, the child may then be placed for adoption. There are list serves on the various county websites, and there are national list serves also, which give information about children who are already legally free for adoption. Thus, you have the opportunity to choose to adopt from the State without fostering first to provide permanency and stability to a child who is already in the permanent custody of the State agency. Generally, the cost to adopt a child out of foster care is free or almost free, as the State will reimburse costs up to the amount of $1,000 per child. This usually will cover your legal fees associated with the adoption. It is important to reach out to attorneys and verify their fees for this type of adoption, as well as whether there will be any applicable costs above the legal fee amount, in order to fully prepare. Additionally, if you match with a child who does not live near you geographically, there will likely be travel costs incurred during the pre-placement period while you establish a relationship with the child. For more detailed information, please contact Ginn Law Office, LLC directly.
What does it mean to go through adoption assistance negotiations?
If you adopt a child from foster care, you may be eligible to receive ongoing monthly subsidy to assist in the raising and the rearing of the child. There are federal and state programs that were implemented decades ago to encourage permanency for children and to disincentivise long-term foster care. The legislative history and the Policy Announcements interpreting the federal law are very clear that the intention of the law is to apply as broadly as possible to cover as many children as possible. If you are beginning the negotiations process, it may be prudent to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the State in order to obtain subsidy information for the entire State or for the county from which you intend to adopt. The negotiations process can be very prompt, or it can take quite some time. Some states have mandated structures, and other states require negotiation between the parties to ascertain the appropriate amount of adoption assistance for the respective child(ren). The local agency is obligated to consider the ordinary needs of the child, the special needs of the child and the circumstances of the family when making an offer for adoption assistance.
*The information contained on this site is not intended to act as legal advice but is merely intended to be informative for those considering growing their families through adoption in the State of Ohio.