Ohio, often referred to as “The Heart of America,” certainly shows its heart for adoption through its many programs and adoption agencies focused on adoption in Ohio. Ohio is ever-changing its adoption policies to ensure that millions of children find homes. Whether it be foster or private adoptions, Ohio has a wealth of agencies that serve the adoption industry. Adoption in Ohio is a streamlined process, with Ohio making it clear what is expected from the beginning to the end of the process.
Where to Begin
Adoption in Ohio begins with deciding what type of adoption you will pursue. There are two main types of domestic adoption: adoption from foster care and private adoption. Those wishing to adopt an infant often go the route of private adoption, while adoption from foster care is utilized by those hoping to adopt an older child. It is good to gather information on both types of adoption by reaching out to local adoption and child welfare agency. They will likely be more than willing to provide more information and answer any questions you may have.
Once you have decided which type of adoption to pursue, you will need to choose an agency or attorney through which to begin your adoption process. Ohio does allow the adoption to be facilitated by the state agency, an adoption agency, or an attorney. If you are going the route of foster care adoption, you will typically go through the child welfare agency in your county, though you may find private foster agencies in your area as well. If you have chosen private adoption, you will often find a host of agencies from which to choose. Rely on the reviews of others as well as your own research to make the choice.
The first step when pursuing adoption in Ohio will be to choose an adoption agency, attorney, or state agency through which to begin your adoption process as outlined above. The agency typically has an application which you will need to complete to begin the process. You may also be subject to an application fee. Once the application has been submitted, the agency will typically contact you with the next steps.
One of the next steps will be to complete your adoption education and/or training. This will be true of both foster and private adoptions. This training may appear differently from agency to agency. Some training may take place in a classroom setting for multiple weeks, a weekend, or various other time allotments. Other agencies may require a mixture of classroom study and book reviews. Ohio requires that preservice training include:
– Agency policy and procedures
– Child development
– Attachment and separation
– Dealing with behavioral challenges
– Cultural issues
– Caring for children who have been sexually abused
After this training has been completed, the home visit portion of the home study will begin. This typically occurs over multiple visits and has multiple purposes. The worker will conduct a safety audit of the home to ensure that the child will be coming home to a safe and secure environment. This includes making sure there is room for the child, there are no safety issues like lack of smoke detectors, access to medications, easy access to firearms, etc.
The home study will also include interviews of each member of the household. These interviews are the way the worker gets to know each member of the family and their feelings about adoption. For the prospective adoptive parents, this interview will also include questions about their past such as how they were raised, how they plan to raise their child, and any events that came upon a background of child services check. While not all criminal backgrounds will disqualify you from adopting, by-laws governing adoption in Ohio, offenses relating to domestic violence, sexually related crimes, crimes involving children or other sensitive groups, or abuse are often automatic disqualifiers. This rule also applies to any over the age of 18 living in your home.
Once the home study has been completed, the social worker will draft a report based on their findings. Generally, these reports are very positive and are really just a profile of the family and home to which a child is entering. If there are any concerns present that can be addressed, many social workers will let you know what needs to be fixed and hold off finalizing the report until the issue is addressed. Once the report has been completed, the wait for a match begins.
Waiting to Be Matched
If you have chosen the route of private infant adoption and have not self-matched, your wait can vary tremendously. Some people find themselves waiting mere weeks, while for others, it may be years. This often has to do with the guidelines you set for the child with whom you are willing to be matched. Sometime during the home study process, you will identify if you are willing to accept a child with special needs, a certain gender or race, drug exposure, alcohol exposure, etc. While it is not always the case, the less you are willing to accept, the longer they wait to be matched may become.
Your adoption agency will likely have you create a profile book that can be shown to expectant mothers who are searching for a family for their child. Many will contact an adoption agency through which to place their child and will use these books to get to know waiting families. They may also choose to meet or interview these families before making a choice. For hopeful adoptive parents, advertising via social media or adoption profile sites like those on Adoption.com are also great ways for expectant parents to get to know you. Keep in mind however that is only legal to advertise for an adoption match in Ohio when you have officially been approved to adopt through the home study process.
Laws Specific to Adoption in Ohio
Adoption in Ohio will be subject to federal and state regulations regarding adoption. While these laws will govern much of the adoption process, there will be laws that are specific to the process of adoption in Ohio. All adoptions in Ohio will follow the federal regulations unless there is a law specific to Ohio that changes the processor adds to it wholly. These laws govern factors such as adoption consents, birth parent rights, birth mother expenses, and post-adoption agreements.
In the state of Ohio, a birth mother cannot execute consent to an adoption until 72 hours after the child’s birth. This consent remains revocable until the finalization of an adoption is filed with the courts. After post-placements have been completed, the assessor with submit his or her final assessment to the court, and a court date will be set for finalization. Once this finalization takes place, the child legally becomes the child of the adoptive parents, just as if the adoptive parents had given birth to him or her. A new birth certificate is then issued with the child’s name and the names of her adoptive parents. In most cases, the original birth certificate is sealed.
A birth mother placing her child for adoption in Ohio is entitled to certain pregnancy-related expenses to be paid during and shortly after her pregnancy. The prospective adoptive parents are responsible for paying these expenses. In most cases, these expenses will be paid through the adoption agency or adoption attorney, directly to the birth mother. These expenses can cover things such as maternity clothes, court expenses, pregnancy-related medical and hospital bills, and living expenses. The amount of these expenses cannot exceed $3,000. Adoptive parents may also be required to pay for counseling for the birth mother as well as an attorney to represent the birth mother in the adoption process. These expenses are not counted into the $3,000 figure, though are very important to the adoption process as a whole to make sure it is ethical and legal throughout.
If the birth father is known, he has the right to consent or contest an adoption. If he can support his child, he has the right to parent the child expressly. If the father is unknown, an advertisement is placed in the local paper for 30 days after the birth of the child. There is also a check of the Putative Father Registry in Ohio. For adoption in Ohio, a birth father has up to 30 days after the birth of the child to register with the Putative Father Registry to prevent adoption proceedings from continuing and to be notified of his child.
While open adoption is becoming much more popular and is being presented as a healthier option for a child in an adoption situation, post-adoption contact agreements are not legally enforceable for adoption in Ohio. Though they are not legally enforceable, this does not mean they cannot be used. In this case, they would be more of an agreement held by honor rather than legality. No promises should be made that cannot be kept in this case, and both sides must know that the agreement is not legally enforceable.
Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.