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, and can be tricky to try and navigate and understand on your own. The experienced adoption attorneys at Dagger Law can help you navigate some of the hard to understand aspects associated with adoptions and foster care services in Ohio. We handle navigating the legal issues so that you can focus on what matters most to you; Family. On the 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 successfully adopt. It is an amazing 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 are located in one of the following areas, we will be happy to assist you. Whether 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; we have you covered. Check out the nearest location to you by clicking Our Locations Page
In Ohio, there are four basic options available for adoption services:
- International adoption
- Public adoption
- Private agency adoption
- Private independent adoption
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:
- Stepparent adoption
- Kinship adoption, or kinship caregivers
- Grandparent adoption
- Adult aged adoption
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 that you are facing. Use our convenient Contact Page to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal matter with an attorney.
As you might expect, international adoptions are often the most complicated, expensive, and time consuming type of adoption services. This is primarily because an international adoption requires that an adoption plan satisfy adoption laws in Ohio as well as the country that the child is being adopted from. International adoptions are governed by the Hague Adoption Convention, which was put into place in order to provide oversight and protection from unethical adoption practices, abductions, and scams. Some unique items that will be required for an 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 take place when a child in custody of the state, Ohio, and 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, but they may also come from a group home environment. Because public adoptions are often subsidized by the state, or county, the cost of adoption is comparatively low, and they tend to move faster. That said, it is more common for public adoptions to take place when a child is older, has some special needs, and may be placed for adoption alongside siblings.
Public adoptions can be handled by a public/government children’s services agency or a private agency that specializes in placing foster children, or foster care adoption.
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 been put into effect the birth parents’ rights will be terminated in probate court. In these cases, birth parents may have some say in where their children are placed, 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, private independent adoptions are coordinated by a lawyer. These are most often an adoption where the child is not in the custody of the state, county, or private agency, and will involve a direct arrangement between the adoptive family and birth parents. In Ohio, an adoption attorney is not able to represent both the adoptive and birth parent interests in an adoption as this creates a conflict of interests. 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 in front of a judge. If only the mother is surrendering the child, the consent must be given in front of a judge or magistrate.
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. Open adoption agreements must be approved by the respective county probate court. The court cannot refuse the agreement unless one of the following issues occurs:
- Adoptive parent’s full parental control and authority are limited
- Birth parents are given 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.
A stepparent adoption can be relatively simple if both birth parents consent. Step parent adoptions, unless ordered by the court, do not require a home study, which makes things less costly and easier than other adoptions as well. However, adoption laws in Ohio can be different from County to County. Because of this we recommend the use of 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. This includes the responsibility to provide living expenses and child support, though any past due child support payments must still be made. 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 child will be issued a new birth certificate showing the adopting parent’s name.
If one of the natural parents doesn’t consent, or if one of the natural parents can’t be located, this can be a long 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 stepparent 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 thought of as an adoption, a kinship adoption can consist of an informal agreement, relative foster care, guardianship, or legal custody arrangements. These are most often meant to 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 can relinquish parental rights through juvenile or probate court. If the parents do not agree to the kinship adoption, there is little that can be done until the state determines that parental rights must be legally terminated. This is often accomplished through a Children’s Services intervention.
While some of the arrangements listed above are temporary, a kinship adoption can also be permanent and entitle the child to all rights of a biological child in the adoptive family.
While rare, adult adoptions in Ohio and allowed under the following cases:
- Adult was in permanent custody of the state at the time of their 18th birthday
- Total and permanent disability
- Developmental disability
- If a parent/child relationship was established while the child was a minor
Ohio Putative Father Registry
The Ohio Putative Father Registry is a database which is 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. This gives a potential father the ability to adopt their child, and to be considered during the process of determining if a child is able to be legally adopted.
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. Registration must be completed before the birth of the child, or within 15 days of the birth, or the putative father may not be notified about a potential adoption. Legal representation may also be important for the purpose of establishing paternity.
Will an attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
While some meetings with an adoption lawyer will need to be held in our law offices, we do try to minimize unnecessary travel time by offering two convenient locations in both Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio. It is our goal to limit the disruption to your life caused by executing an adoption plan, and therefore communications or meetings during the adoption process may be conducted through emails or phone calls. In certain circumstances we realize that it isn’t possible for clients to physically come into our offices and visits to your location may be required. If a Dagger Law attorney is retained to represent you in an adoption they will travel to the necessary court hearings and legal procedures in order 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.