Adoption is the legal procedure by which a person becomes, through Court action, part of a family other than that of his or her natural parents.
It is a serious step for all persons concerned. It determines the future of the adopted person since it permanently severs ties with his or her natural parents and relatives and transplants the person into a new family.
WHO MAY ADOPT?
The following persons may adopt:
1. Spouses together, at least one of whom is an adult;
2. A step-parent; or
3. An unmarried adult.
WHO MAY BE ADOPTED?
The following persons may be adopted:
1. Any minor child - in Ohio, a person under 18 years of age;
2. Any adult if permanently and totally disabled;
3. Any adult determined to be a mentally retarded person as defined in Section 5123.01 of the Ohio Revised Code; and
4. Any adult who had established a child/foster parent or child/step-parent relationship with the petitioners as a minor and consents to the adoption.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ADOPTIONS?
The types of adoptions are:
1. Step-parent - In this instance, the person seeking to adopt may be either a step-father or step-mother. The parent whose right is being terminated must consent unless his or her consent is not required under the law.
2. Agency - Initially, the licensed adoption agency has received permanent custody of the child. It is the agency who investigates the person seeking to adopt and the suitability of the home, and places the child in the home for adoption. The adoption is finalized by the Probate Court after all the parties involved, except the natural parents, appear for a hearing and a final decree of adoption is ordered by the Court.
3. Independent Adoption - An independent adoption is generally handled by a private attorney working directly with the natural parents and the Probate Court.
A. Unless exempted by statute, prior to the placement of the child in the home of the persons seeking to adopt, the natural parents must personally apply to, and appear before, the Probate Court of the county in which the natural parents, or in which the person seeking to adopt, resides. The natural parents must file a written statement showing that they are aware of their right to consent to a decree of adoption subject to the limitations of law.
B. The Probate Court must approve the placement before the child is taken to the home of the persons seeking to adopt.
C. By law, a final decree of adoption cannot be issued until the child has lived in the adoptive home for at least six months after the Court approved placement.
D. The adoption is finalized by the Probate Court after the petition of the adoptive parents is heard and a decree of adoption is ordered by the Court.
4. Interstate Adoption - If a child is born in Ohio and the persons seeking to adopt reside in another state, or vice versa, the Interstate Compact must be complied with. Before placement of the child, agencies in each state initiate proceedings to the government office administering the Interstate Compact in that state. The agencies, government offices and the Probate Court then work together to fulfill the requirements of the Interstate Compact.
5. International Adoption - The usual scenario is when a child is born in another country and sought to be adopted by a family in Ohio. The persons seeking to adopt must comply with the laws of immigration and naturalization and the laws governing adoption in both the U.S. and the foreign country. The adopted child does not become a U.S. citizen through the adoption process. Naturalization requirements must be met if a change in citizenship is desired.
WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES FOR WEBCHECK?
The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department shall run a criminal background check using the WEBCHECK system, on all prospective adoptive parents and on applicants for guardianships, estates, or trusts as determined by the Court. (In adoptions, A WEBCHECK is performed on anyone living in the home over the age of 18.)
A "Consent to WEBCHECK Criminal Background Check" shall be provided by the Court to the adoptive petitioner(s) and applicant(s).
At the time of the WEBCHECK, the Sheriff’s Department will certify on the consent form that the WEBCHECK has been run. The applicant shall return the certified consent form to the Probate Court.
Results from the WEBCHECK shall be forwarded directly to the Trumbull County Probate Court by BCI&I to be kept as part of the Court’s permanent file. The Sheriff’s Department shall send a copy of the certificate to the applicant.
Upon request and consent of the Petitioner(s) or Party, the Deputy Clerk shall make a copy of the WEBCHECK results for the Court file and shall forward a copy of the results to the adoption assessor (in adoption cases) or the applicant (in all other cases). The original shall be kept in the Court’s permanent file.
No hearings will be held until the results of the WEBCHECK have been received by the Court, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
IS A HOME STUDY NECESSARY?
Yes. Regardless of the type of adoption, a home study is required.
WHERE SHOULD I FILE FOR ADOPTION?
Since the Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over adoptions, the petition for adoption is filed in the Probate Court of the county where:
1. The person to be adopted was born or now resides; or
2. The natural parent of the person to be adopted resides; or
3. The person seeking to adopt resides; or
4. The person seeking to adopt is stationed in the military service; or
5. The agency having permanent custody of the person to be adopted is located.
MUST I HAVE AN ATTORNEY?
Legal counsel is not required by law. However, due to the complexity of the law and the legal problems involved in the adoption process, the Probate Court strongly recommends that all persons seeking to adopt employ legal counsel.
MUST I APPEAR IN COURT?
Yes. It is mandatory, whether adopting through an agency or independently, that the person adopting and the child or children sought to be adopted appear before the Probate Court for the final hearing. In certain circumstances, there may be other appearances required. Exceptions can only be granted by the Court for good cause shown. Only the parties involved are present before the Magistrate or Probate Judge at the time of the final hearing.
DO I HAVE ACCESS TO MY ADOPTION FILE?
Adults seeking identifying information concerning an adoption must contact the Ohio Department of Health.
As of September 18, 1996, open adoption is permitted under Ohio law if the birth parents and adoptive parents agree and consent on acceptable terms.
In all adoptions, medical information in the Court file regarding the biological parents may be released upon request and proper identification. This does not include, however, release of the identity of the biological parent or parents.
ARE THE ADOPTED CHILD'S NAME AND BIRTH CERTIFICATE CHANGED?
Yes. The original birth certificate will be sealed and a new birth certificate issued. The adopting parent or parents will be reflected on the birth certificate just as though they had been the biological parents. The adopted child’s name will also be changed to the name of the adopting parents.
Adopted children born in Ohio or a foreign country receive their new birth certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Columbus, Ohio. Children adopted in Ohio, but born in other states, obtain their new birth certificates from the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state where they were born.
WHERE CAN I OBTAIN INFORMATION IN TRUMBULL COUNTY ABOUT ADOPTIONS?
Trumbull County Probate Court
161 High Street NW
Warren, Ohio 44481
LICENSED PUBLIC ADOPTION AGENCY
Trumbull County Children Services Board
2282 Reeves Road, N.E.
Warren, Ohio 44483
LICENSED PRIVATE ADOPTION AGENCY
Catholic Community Services, Inc.
175 Laird Avenue, N.E.
Warren, Ohio 44483
Northeast Ohio Adoption Services
5000 E. Market Street, Suite 26
Warren, Ohio 44484
Attorney of your choice
If you do not have an attorney and wish to obtain one, the Trumbull County Bar Association will be happy to assist in referring you to an attorney. They can be reached at 330-675-2415.