Everything You Need to Know About Ohio Adoptions
Adopting a Child in Ohio: Types of Adoptions
With infertility affecting an estimated 12-13 out of every 100 couples, adoption is a common alternative to expanding your family, and many of us know personally an adopted individual or adoptive family. A single person may also adopt a child, and of course, many families that have children still seek to adopt a child who needs a family.
Whether you are wanting to begin or expand your family, or just curious, it may be helpful to review the types of adoptions that are available. This is an intentionally brief overview that does not cover all of the steps required for each adoption scenario.
When you think of adopting a child, international adoption may be what first comes to mind. International adoptions can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. With COVID-19 holding the world in its grasp, with no sign of quick release, the possibility of international adoptions is becoming difficult, if not impossible, for some families.
International adoptions often, though not always, take place through a private agency. Not every country is open to international adoptions, and it is possible that a country can become closed to international adoptions, even in the middle of a family’s adoption process. The laws of both the host country and the United States have to be followed in adopting a child from a different country.
The US State Department certifies international adoption agencies. When considering an agency for international adoption, be sure that they hold that certification. Adoptive parents will also need to get an immigrant visa when adopting a child.
Adoption from Foster Care
At the time of this article, there are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. The time it takes to adopt from foster care depends on many factors, including the eligibility of the children placed in your home for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents can tell the agency that they are wanting to adopt, and they can wait to place children in your home that are eligible for adoption. In other situations, families go into foster care without a specific intention in mind to adopt, a child becomes eligible for adoption, and their foster parents then pursue adoption. Although every situation is different, when a child’s biological parents’ rights have been terminated, the child can then be officially placed “for adoption” in the foster care parents’ home. If the child has been in the foster parents’ home for at least six months, the six-month waiting period before the finalization of an adoption is waived.
Once parental rights are terminated and the child is officially placed for adoption with the potential adoptive parents, which is often a long process, the rest of the adoption process is relatively simple, though the specifics vary county-by-county. The most recent home study for adoptive parents is required. An attorney will gather the information received in part from the foster care agency and file a Petition for Adoption. At the adoption hearing, the adoption should be finalized.
Adoptions from foster care are relatively inexpensive, as the State subsidizes many foster care expenses and costs.
Adoption from Private Agencies
Adoption from private agencies sometimes dissuades potential adoptive families because of the costs. Adoptions can cost between $30,000-$50,000. However, the agency then coordinates all of the adoptions, helping to connect birth families and adoptive parents with databases of potential adoptive parents for birth families to consider, performing the home study and other assessments, and coordinating with attorneys to finalize the adoption. Just like with foster care adoptions, there is a waiting period for a birth mother to select an adoptive family. Birth mothers cannot give consent to an adoption until 72 hours after their child is born, and sometimes they change their minds. These adoptions are most often – but not always – infants, whereas adoptions from foster care involve children of all ages, often older children due to the goal of reunification wherever possible.
Independent Adoptions through Attorneys
Independent, or “private” adoptions occur when an attorney assists a family in arranging an adoption, instead of an agency. This commonly occurs when a potential adoptive family has already been approached by a birth mother wanting to place her child for adoption with the person or family. Independent adoptions generally are around $3,000-$5,000 for attorney fees, plus a court-ordered assessment. Adoptive families are also responsible for the birth mother’s fees accrued from the adoption process – such as her attorney fees and medical fees if any.
Placement for adoption must occur first. Placement generally requires the parties applying to the local probate court where one of the families reside, seeking approval for placement for adoption and a Court-ordered assessment of the adoptive family. If placement is approved before a child is born, the Court will enter an order allowing the child to be released from the hospital to the potential adoptive family. After six months of placement, and if all parental consents have been received (or consent for a parent was held by a Court to be unnecessary), adoption can proceed to a hearing. There may be an interlocutory order of adoption before the final order.
There are many steps to independent adoptions and, like any adoption, the parental rights would either have to be terminated, the biological parents would have to consent, or where there is a putative father, a search of the putative father registry is required. The Court may also find that parental consents are not necessary due to abandonment or other provisions under Ohio law, requiring a judicial finding that said consents are not required. This is true for all adoptions, except it would not occur in adoptions from foster care, as parental rights would have already have been terminated or consent held to be unnecessary before the adoptive parents are placed with a child for adoption.
Adoptions from Guardianships
Guardianship is granted in probate or juvenile court. Thus, the potential adoptive parent would have already gone through the court to obtain guardianship of a child and the same steps for placement are not required. Parental rights would still have to be terminated or their consents held to be unnecessary, as stated above.
Adoptions from Kinship Care
Kinship care is a temporary or permanent arrangement where a relative – or similar person who has a long-standing relationship with a child – has taken over the full-time care of a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so. Kinship care can be informal, can come from a legal custody or guardianship order, or a relative foster care placement. As with other adoptions, the rights of the parents would generally have to be terminated before an adoption can occur through kinship care, or consent would have to be given (unless the parents are deceased or incapacitated).
Step-Parent and Grandparent Adoptions
Step-parent adoptions and grandparent adoptions have fewer requirements, for instance, placement orders and home studies are not required, and certain other forms. Consents of the biological parent(s) are still required unless held otherwise by Court order.
Contact our office for a consultation if you have questions about adoption or any adoption alternative.