Adoptions can be stressful if you are more focused on the paperwork than your newest family member, which is why hiring an experienced adoption lawyer can drastically improve your family’s experience.
Ohio Adoption Law, found in chapter 3107 of the Ohio Revised Code, has some unique aspects to it. These unique aspects make it tricky to understand the system on your own. The experienced adoption attorneys at Dagger Law can help you navigate some of the hard-to-understand aspects of Ohio’s adoptions and foster care services. We handle the legal issues so you can focus on what matters most to you: family.
On average, there are more than 2,600 children in Ohio waiting to be adopted. While many people wish to adopt a baby, almost half of those children waiting to be adopted are teenagers or are part of a sibling group.
What to Expect When Working with Dagger Law’s Adoption Lawyers
With over 100 years of experience as a law firm, we know what it takes to help loving families adopt. It is a fantastic experience to watch a client create a new family and provide a stable home to a child. Let us help you with the time-consuming legal work involved in this process. If you are looking to adopt and live in Lancaster or nearby, we will be happy to assist you.
Our Adoption Attorneys in Lancaster, Ohio Offer Four Options for Adoption Services
In Ohio, there are four basic options available for adoption services:
- Private agency
- Private independent
Additionally, there are some situations where people may use adoptions to hold a family together and provide ongoing support through loved ones and relatives. These are:
- Kinship, or kinship caregivers
- Adult aged
Don’t see your particular issue listed above? That is no problem! We enjoy a challenge and are happy to assist you with the legal issue you face. Use our convenient contact page to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal matter with an adoption attorney.
Dagger Law’s Adoption Attorneys Can Help with Different Types of Adoption
As you might expect, international adoptions are often the most complicated, expensive, and time-consuming type of adoption service. The extra time needed is primarily because an international adoption requires that a specific plan satisfy adoption laws in Ohio and the country from which the family is adopting a child.
The Hague Adoption Convention governs international adoptions, providing oversight and protection from unethical adoption practices, abductions, and scams. Some unique items required for international adoption include:
- Proof that the foreign adoption agency has obtained legal consent from the biological parents. Consent may also include evidence that the agency has attempted to place the child in their home country, and that the parents have received counseling regarding the adoption.
- Adoptive parents will need to apply for an immigrant visa for the child. If approved, the child will obtain citizenship status upon entering the United States.
- Proof is required that the adoption agency is certified through the U.S. State Department.
Adoption agencies or an attorney who specializes in handling international adoptions can assist with this process.
Public adoptions occur when a child is in the custody of the state. In Ohio, the child has likely been removed from the birth parent’s home and placed into the foster care system due to abuse, neglect, or the parent’s substance abuse problem. In many situations, these children are placed with foster parents while waiting for adoption. They may also come from a group home environment.
Because the state or county often subsidize public adoptions, the cost of adopting a foster child is comparatively low, and they tend to move faster. That said, it is more common for available public adoptions to take place when a child is older. There may also be circumstances where the child has some special needs, or the local adoptive family must adopt children with their siblings.
Private agencies specializing in placing foster children or public/government children’s services agencies handle foster care adoptions.
Private Agency Adoption
Private agency adoptions are similar to private adoptions. However, an adoption agency licensed by Ohio handles the adoption in this method. In most cases, these adoption services involve the birth parent creating an adoption plan which surrenders the custody rights to an adoption agency. Once the adoption plan has been agreed upon and signed, the probate court terminates the birth parents’ rights. In these cases, birth parents may have some say when placing their children, though the birth parents’ consent is not required.
Ultimately, they will not have the right to make decisions or refuse the decisions made by an adoption agency. While the adoption agency has the right to place the child as they please, most will honor the birth parents’ wishes. Agencies can obtain the parents’ surrender of custody in the hospital or home, which can be less stressful for the birth parents.
Private Independent Adoption
In Ohio, coordinating private independent adoptions is done by an adoption lawyer. These are often an adoption where the child is not in the custody of the state, the county, or a private agency. It will involve a direct arrangement between the adoptive family and birth parents. In Ohio, an adoption attorney cannot represent both the adoptive and birth parents’ interests in adoption. Representing both parties creates a conflict of interest. Most children adopted through a private independent adoption are infants.
If both parents consent to the adoption, they can provide that consent in an attorney’s office or before a judge. If only the mother is surrendering the child, only the judge or magistrate can obtain the mother’s consent.
Dagger Law’s experienced adoption lawyers in Lancaster, Ohio can provide legal guidance to either the birth parents or the adoptive parents. Suppose you are making the difficult decision to give your child up for adoption, or you are starting a new chapter in your life with an adopted child. In that case, a lawyer will be there to ensure that your rights are protected.
Open Adoption in Ohio
In Ohio, the law requires that an adoption lawyer or adoption agency inform both the birth parents and adoptive parents about the availability of open adoption agreements. The respective county probate court must approve open adoption agreements. The court cannot refuse the deal unless one of the following issues occurs:
- Adoptive parents’ complete parental control and authority are limited
- Birth parents have parental power or authority
- Adoptive parents or child have been denied access to anything in the adoption file (social and medical history, or other sensitive documents)
While the courts have to approve an open adoption agreement, these are not enforceable in Ohio. Either party may immediately discontinue the process. Because of this, we recommend that any open adoption agreements be limited and followed precisely. Dagger Law’s adoption attorneys in Lancaster, Ohio can help you negotiate and clarify the terms of any open adoption agreements that you may desire.
Stepparent adoption can be relatively simple if both birth parents consent. Unless ordered by the court, stepparent adoptions do not require a home study, making things less costly and more straightforward than other adoptions. However, adoption laws in Ohio can be different from county to county. We recommend using an adoption attorney to ensure that all paperwork is completed and filed correctly so that the process runs smoothly.
If a stepparent adopts the child, the birth parent that has given up rights to the child will no longer have the right to visit or support the child. No longer providing support includes providing living expenses and child support. However, it is necessary to settle past-due child support payments. The child will no longer inherit through the parent that has consented to terminate the parenting relationship. Once an adoption by stepparent is complete, the state issues new birth certificates to the child showing the adopting parent’s name.
If one of the natural parents doesn’t consent or locating one of the biological parents proves impossible, this can be a lengthy and potentially costly venture. Because of the extensive legal paperwork involved, these instances will require an adoption attorney. While some exceptions exist, stepparent adoptions without the full consent of both natural parents will likely take six months or longer.
Kinship Adoptions, Grandparent Adoptions, and Kinship Caregivers
In cases of kinship adoptions, a relative or other adult who has established a relationship, or bond to the child, will take over full-time care. In most such cases, parents are unwilling or unable to provide adequate care. While typically thought of as adoption, a kinship adoption can consist of an informal agreement, relative foster care, guardianship, or legal custody arrangements.
These provide temporary placement while the birth parent focuses on drug or alcohol rehab, parenting classes, or other court-ordered requirements for regaining full parental rights.
If the birth parents are alive, they must still consent to the kinship adoption process and relinquish parental rights through juvenile or probate court. Should the parents not agree to the kinship adoption, relatives can do little because the state must legally determine parental rights before taking action. Because of this, a children’s services intervention is a common way to terminate parental rights.
While some of the arrangements listed above are temporary, a kinship adoption can also be permanent and entitle the child to a biological child’s rights in the adoptive family.
While rare, adult adoptions do happen in Ohio and are allowed under the following cases:
- The adult child was in the permanent custody of the state at the time of their 18th birthday
- Total and permanent disability of the adult adoptee
- Developmental disability
- Establishment of a parent/child relationship while the child was a minor
Ohio Putative Father Registry
The Ohio Putative Father Registry is a database administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The purpose is to allow men to register, if they believe that they have fathered a child, for notification if a child comes up for adoption. The registration gives a potential father the ability to adopt their child and be considered during determining if another party can legally adopt the child.
Should a putative father (putative means “generally considered to be”) be contacted, we recommend that they reach out to an attorney for legal counsel regarding their parental rights. Completing the registration must occur before the child’s birth or within 15 days of the delivery, or notification of the potential adoption may not happen. Legal representation may also be necessary for establishing paternity.
Will an adoption attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
You may be wondering, “Is there an adoption lawyer near me?” and “Will I need to travel to meet with them?” While some meetings will need to occur in our offices, we try to minimize your travel time. We offer two convenient office locations in Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio.
Our goal is to reduce the disruption to your life caused by legal issues and conduct most communications or meetings through emails or phone calls. In certain circumstances, we realize that clients can’t reach us, and we may be required to visit your location.
The Adoption Lawyers at Dagger Law Will Simplify the Process for You
Suppose you retain a Dagger Law attorney to represent you. In that case, they will travel to the necessary court hearings and legal procedures to represent you anywhere in Ohio!
Please note that in some instances, the cost to represent your case may require an unusual amount of money due to travel expenses. In such cases, we may recommend using legal representation closer to the location of your case. We are happy to provide referrals in these instances if we are able.
Dagger Law Adoption Lawyers and Foster Care Lawyers Proudly Serve Central and Southeastern Ohio
See below for a list of areas we serve:
- Fairfield County
- Franklin County
- Hocking County
- Licking County
- Pickaway County
- Baltimore, Ohio
- Buckeye Lake, Ohio
- Canal Winchester, Ohio
- Circleville, Ohio
- Greater Columbus Area
- Lancaster, Ohio
- Logan, Ohio
- Newark, Ohio
- Other locations nearby
Contact Dagger Law for a Trusted Lancaster Adoption Attorney
To hire an adoption lawyer in Lancaster, or an adoption lawyer in Canal Winchester, check out the nearest location to you by clicking our locations page.
For questions regarding the services offered by our Lancaster adoption lawyers and foster care lawyers, please contact us directly. We look forward to reviewing your case with you.
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Norman J. Ogilvie, Jr, Of Counsel — Ohio State Bar Association Certified Specialist in Family Relations Law