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Frequently Asked Questions About Adoptions

The following are common questions that have often been posed to our office:

Who May Adopt? back to top

  1. A husband and wife jointly
  2. A Step-Parent
  3. A Single Adult

Who May be Adopted? back to top

  1. A Minor child
  2. An adult person determined to be totally and permanently disabled or mentally retarded
  3. An adult may adopt another adult provided a parent-child relationship existed during the adoptee's minority.

What are the Types of Adoptions? back to top

  1. Agency Adoptions: When an agency licensed by the State of Ohio originates and handles the adoption process, Probate Court involvement is limited to the final stages of adoption. It is the agency who approves the placement, conducts the home study, and recommends the adoption to the Court. Adoption agencies have trained, professional staff and use legal counsel to insure that adoptions are legally, effectively, and efficiently handled.
  2. Independent Adoptions: In this instance, a licensed adoption agency is not involved. It is generally handled by a private attorney working directly with the Court. On occasion, the child may be related to persons seeking to adopt, such as a grandchild, niece, nephew, etc. Other times, there is no relationship between the child to be adopted and those adopting.
  3. Step-Parent Adoptions: The person seeking to adopt is either a step-father or step-mother. The parent whose right is being terminated must consent unless his or her consent is not required.
  4. Interstate Adoptions: When a child is born in one state and the adopting parents are residents of another state, both States' Departments of Human Services must be involved through the Interstate Compact. The Probate Court will supervise these proceedings.
  5. Foreign Adoptions: If an Ohio family adopts a child born in another country, the adoption is considered a Foreign Adoption. Adoption may occur in the country of birth or in Ohio. All foreign adoptions must be processed through the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization.

Who Must Consent? back to top
The parents of the child to be adopted, a minor being adopted who is over the age of 12 years, and an adult adoptee must consent to adoption. However, under certain circumstances, consent may be waived. Therefore, questions concerning consent should be directed to an agency or attorney.

What are the Rights of an Unwed Father? back to top
An unwed father, known as a putative father, may preserve his rights to consent to an adoption of a child born after January 1, 1997, by registering with the Ohio Department of Human Services, Putative Father Registry. Registration must occur either prior to birth or no later than thirty days after birth. As to the rights of a putative father prior to January 1, 1997, contact an agency or attorney.

The address of the Putative Father Registry is:

Ohio Putative Father Registry
30 E. Broad Street, Floor 31
Columbus, OH 43266-0423

What is an Open Adoption? back to top
As an alternative to a traditional closed adoption where identities are not disclosed, an open adoption occurs when both the natural and adopting parents, prior to the adoption, voluntarily disclose their identities to each other. Open adoption law applies only to non-relative adoptions, and may involve a non-binding agreement for contact between the adopted child and the natural parent(s). However, all parental control of the adopted child remains with the adopting parents.

For more information on open adoptions, contact an agency or attorney.

Where Should I File for Adoption? back to top
Since the Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Adoptions, you are required to file in the Probate Court of the County where any one of the following apply:

  1. The agency having custody of the child is located.
  2. The child was born.
  3. The person or persons seeking to adopt reside.
  4. The person seeking to adopt is stationed in military service.
  5. In an independent placement: where the natural parent resides.

Is a Home Study Necessary? back to top
Yes. Regardless of the type of adoption, a home study is required. An individual known as an assessor, who is qualified and trained for the task, will complete the home study.

Must I Have an Attorney? back to top
Yes, on independent or agency adoptions. Step-Parent, Grandparent, and Readoptions may proceed pro se.

Must I Appear in Court? back to top
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. Any exceptions can only be granted by the Court for good cause shown.

Is the Birth Certificate Changed? back to top
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.

Adopted children born in Ohio or a foreign country, receive their new birth certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

The address of the Bureau of Vital Statistics is:

Bureau of Vital Statistics
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 118
Columbus, OH 43216-0118

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.

How do I access my adoption records? back to top
Adoption files are confidential, and closed to the public. The adoptee or adopting parents, however, may obtain the following information:

  1. Medical information: Generally, all adoption records are open for the purpose of obtaining the medical background of biological parents. The Probate Court or agency involved in the adoption should be contacted for that information. There are no court costs for requesting medical information and the procedure is very simple. Any adoptee who desires medical information, must submit (1) a written request to the Probate Court, along with (2) a copy of his/her birth certificate, (3) a copy of a state issued photo ID and (4) a stamped self-addressed envelope. The written request should provide as much identifying information as possible so that the court can locate the appropriate file. The mailing address for the Shelby County Probate Court is:
    Shelby County Probate Court
    P.O. Box 4187
    Sidney, Ohio 45365-4187
  2. Identifying Information- Biological Parents:
Prior to 1964: Copies of the original birth certificate may be obtained from the State Bureau of Vital Statistics.
1964-1996: Adoption records for this period are closed. Identifying information will be released only if the biological parent(s), or an adult sibling, has signed a Release of Information. The release of information from this period requires compliance with the Ohio Adoption Registry. More information about the Ohio Adoption Registry is contained in this web page.
1996 to date: Since 9-18-96, adoption records are open unless the biological parent(s) have requested that identifying information be withheld. The State Bureau of Vital Statistics should be contacted.
The address of the Bureau of Vital Statistics is:
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 118
Columbus, OH 43216-0118

What is the Ohio Adoption Registry? back to top
The Ohio Adoption Registry was established by the Ohio Legislature to provide a confidential and voluntary way for adopted Ohioans and their biological families to find one another.

Birth records of people adopted after January 1, 1964 are not available to the public in Ohio. The Adoption Registry acts as a clearinghouse between adoptees and their biological families for those adopted prior to June 21, 1996.

Why Does Ohio Have An Adoption Registry? back to top
The Ohio Adoption Registry was created by the Legislature to protect the privacy of adopted people and their biological families by creating a clearinghouse for them to contact one another.

The Registry operates strictly on a mutual consent basis. Not every adopted person wants to find their biological family members, and not every biological family member of someone who was adopted wants to be found.

How Does the Ohio Adoption Registry Work? back to top
If you are the biological parent or sibling of someone who was adopted before June 21, 1996, download the appropriate "Authorization for Release" form, complete the information, and file it with the Registry.

This form allows the Registry to release your information to the Probate Court so that it may be shared with the adoptee, once the adoptee attains the age of 21, and has first initiated the search.

Click here to access an Authorization for Release - Birth Parent
Click here to access an Authorization for Release - Sibling

What Must the Adopted Person Do? back to top
If you are adopted and 21 years old or older, you must file a petition with the probate court in your county to have information about your birth released to the Registry.

When the Probate Court submits this information to the Registry, a search is made to see if any authorization forms have been filed by a biological relative, agreeing to be contacted.

If a completed release form has been filed with the Registry, a copy is forwarded to the Probate Court or agency appointed by the Court.

If no release form is found, the Probate Court can order the file "pending" until a release is filed.

What is the Cost Involved? back to top
There is no charge for filing a release form with the Ohio Adoption Registry. The Probate Court does charge a filing fee of $50.00 for the Petition for Release of Adoption Information.

The mailing address for the Shelby County Probate Court is:

Shelby County Probate Court
P.O. Box 4187
Sidney, Ohio 45365-4187

What if I Change My Mind? back to top
Any information filed with the Registry may be updated, changed or withdrawn at any time by the person who originally filed the information. Simply contact the Adoption Registry at the

following address:

Bureau of Vital Statistics
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 118
Columbus, OH 43216-0118

Prepared by the Ohio Association of Probate Judges
Prepared by the Ohio Department of Health