Adoptions can be stressful if you are more focused on the paperwork than your newest family member.
Ohio Adoption Law has some unique aspects to it. This makes it tricky to try and navigate, and 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 navigating the legal issues to focus on what matters most to you; Family. On average, there are more than 2600 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. 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 one of the following areas, we will be happy to assist you. We have an office near you if you are located in Central Ohio, Southeastern Ohio, Fairfield County, Hocking County, Licking County, Pickaway County, Franklin County, Lancaster, Baltimore, Circleville, Buckeye Lake, Newark, Logan, Canal Winchester, the Greater Columbus area or other locations nearby.
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In Ohio, there are four basic options available for adoption services:
- Private agency
- Private independent
Additionally, there are some situations where adoptions may be used to hold a family together and provide ongoing support through loved ones and relatives. These are:
- Kinship, or kinship caregivers
- Adult aged
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As you might expect, international adoptions are often the most complicated, expensive, and time-consuming type of adoption services. The extra time 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. International adoptions are governed by the Hague Adoption Convention, which provides oversight and protection from unethical adoption practices, abductions, and scams. Some unique items required for international adoption are:
- Proof that the foreign adoption agency has obtained legal consent from the biological parents. This may also include proof 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 that the adoption agency is certified through the U.S. State Department
International adoptions can be handled by an adoption agency or an attorney who handles adoptions.
These adoptions occur when a child in the custody of the state, Ohio, 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 the adoption, but 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 but are handled by an adoption agency licensed by the state of Ohio. 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 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 parent’s 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 try to honor the birth parent’s wishes. Agencies can obtain the parent’s surrender of custody in the hospital or home, which can be less stressful on the birth parents.
Private Independent Adoption
In Ohio, coordinating private independent adoptions is done by a lawyer. These are often an adoption where the child is not in the custody of the state, county, or 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 parent interests in adoption because this 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 can provide legal guidance to either the birth parents or the adoptive parents. Whether 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, we are here 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 parent’s full parental control and authority are limited.
- Birth parents have parental control or authority.
- Deny adoptive parents, or child, access to anything in the adoption file (social and medical history, etc.)
While the courts have to approve an open adoption agreement, these are not enforceable in Ohio and may be immediately discontinued by either party. Because of this, we recommend that any open adoption agreements be limited and followed precisely. Dagger Law’s adoption attorneys can help you negotiate and clarify the terms of any open adoption agreements that you may desire.
Step-parent adoption can be relatively simple if both birth parents consent. Unless ordered by the court, step-parent 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 step-parent 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 the responsibility to provide living expenses and child support, though past-due child support payments are expected to be settled. The child will no longer inherit through the parent that has consented to terminate the parenting relationship. Once an adoption by step-parent 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 legal paperwork involved, these instances will require an adoption attorney. There are some exceptions, but it should be expected that any step-parent adoption that does not have the full consent from both natural parents will take no less than six months.
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 of a child whose parents are unwilling or able 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. If the parents do not agree to the kinship adoption, little can be done until the state determines that parental rights must be legally terminated. 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 in Ohio and 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, to be notified 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.
If a putative father (putative means “generally considered to be”) is 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 the purpose of establishing paternity.
Will an adoption attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
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. 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.