Every year, there are approximately 2,500 children waiting to be adopted in Ohio. Adoptive parents are no longer limited to a married couple. Rather, adoption can involve many different types of people, including single individuals, grandparents, foster parents, siblings, or other relatives. For those interested in adoption, there are several different methods for adopting. These include domestic public or private adoption, foreign adoption, stepparent adoption, and open adoption. The method of adoption that is best for each family will depend on each family’s needs and circumstances.
Who May Adopt and Consent to Adoption
For any person or family looking to adopt, it is important to be familiar with the laws in Ohio governing the process. To adopt a child, an individual must be at least 18 years old and should have a stable income. An adopting parent can be single, married, divorced, or widowed and may or may not already have children. Under Ohio law, the following individuals may be adopted:
- A minor child;
- An adult who is totally or permanently disabled or determined to be “mentally retarded”; and
- An adult if a parent-child relationship existed during the adoptee’s minority.
Normally, the adoption process requires consent from one or more parties. Consent to adoption is required from the mother and father of the minor, any person or agency having permanent custody of the minor, a minor being adopted over the age of 12 years, or adult being adopted. Consent from the father, however, may not always be necessary. For example, if the father is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth and fails to timely register as a putative father with the county then consent may not be necessary. An adoption attorney can help you understand when consent is required and will work with you throughout the adoption process.
Finalizing the Adoption Process
Importantly, the adoption process is not complete until a final decree of adoption is issued by the court. This process involves a short hearing before a probate court during which the adoptive parents receive legal custody of their adopted child. The final decree cannot be issued until the person to be adopted has lived in the adoptive home for at least six months after placement by an agency. Or, before a final decree can be issued, at least six months must have passed since the department of job and family services or the court has been informed of the placement of the child and the department or court must have had an opportunity to observe or investigate the adoptive home.
Once adopting parents are granted legal custody of their adopted child, they can work with an agency or county caseworker or their attorney to obtain a new birth certificate for their child and the final adoption decree. While an attorney is not required for the adoption process, it is highly recommended that legal counsel is obtained to assist with the adoption process.
Contact a Cleveland, Ohio Adoption Attorney for Help
If you have any questions regarding the adoption process in Ohio, Laubacher & Co.’s experienced adoption attorneys can help advise you on the process. Contact one of our Cleveland adoption attorneys at Laubacher & Co. for a free consultation.