Adoption in Ohio is a wonderful option for expectant parents and hopeful adoptive families in finding forever families...

How does Adoption in Ohio Work?

You have already taken a major step on your adoption journey by making the decision to place your newborn child for adoption. It takes so much strength and courage to get to the place where you are now. Take time between each of the following items you will have to address. There will be many decisions to make along the way. Just be sure to take your time, get as much information as you need to be comfortable with the decisions you make. Let me help you to continue your journey and see specifically How does adoption in Ohio work?

What you will need: 

You will find yourself in need of help in understanding the adoption process, making your decisions, and learning about your rights as a prospective birth mother. Certainly, choosing an agency, looking into “open Adoptions”, deciding if you want to choose your baby’s adoptive parents will all require professional, knowledgeable folks in these areas for you to work with. This will be an intense experience and you should avail yourself to whatever information is available to you. Also, it is particularly important to investigate how you can benefit from receiving counseling and emotional support. Your health and well-being are paramount in weathering your adoption journey.

Let’s Get Started:

First, you will need to decide who you want to work with and rely on for placing your child. You will want to check out which of the following options offer the most services so that you feel secure and comfortable during this exceedingly difficult time. 

“Adoption Facilitators are illegal in the State of Ohio. According to Ohio adoption Laws, ‘a person seeking to adopt a minor shall utilize an agency or attorney to arrange the adoption’.”

You may choose a public adoption agency which is operated by state or county government. They are paid for by state and federal funds.

You may choose an adoption attorney, although adoption law firms are not able to provide counselling services. This distinction may have a great impact on your decision to choose an agency that handles all the services you will need. Also keep in mind that Ohio law does not allow one attorney to represent both the birth mother/parents and the adoptive parents. 

If you decide on working with a private adoption agency you will have to decide which one you feel best suits your needs and circumstance. These agencies can be either national or Ohio based adoption agencies. 

Local Ohio adoption agencies are licensed by the state. Because they are limited to their surrounding area, they have longer wait times for a child to be adopted. However, this affords you, the prospective parent, to get more attention and greater support during this time.

National domestic adoption agencies, which must be licensed in Ohio, have a larger pool of adoptive parents, which would shorten the length of time in which a child could be adopted.

Heather Mitchell provides a wealth of information in her article on this topic. 

Another option in How does Adoption in Ohio Work

If you are uncomfortable and feel things are moving too quickly for you to make all these decisions at once, you do have another option. Perhaps you just need more time to sort things out. Maybe your circumstances will be changing soon. Changes that would allow you to keep your child. You have the option of placing your child in Foster Care. This would buy you additional time to be certain you are doing the right thing and making decisions in the best interest of your child that you will be able to live with in the years ahead. Records show that most kids who enter Ohio foster care are reunited with biological family members. Only 25 percent of Ohio children in foster care will be eligible for foster care adoption at some point in time.

Choosing your child’s adoptive parents

This new norm allows the birth mother or parents to choose who they would like to adopt their child. When working with an adoption specialist you can go thru posted photos of couples looking to adopt. You can even see videos. Conference calls can be placed with prospective adoptive parents. Your adoption journey will be filled with a world of emotions. There will be ups and downs. But, seeing your parent profile and feeling reassurance that you have found that the right family for a child is unmatched.

This would be another major decision for you to make. How do you even begin to decide on who you think best to raise your child? I suppose, again the more information you get, reaching this decision would require much thought.

How does Adoption in Ohio Work pertain to expectant moms?

Expectant mothers are eligible to have certain expenses covered. Medical, legal, and counseling services may be covered. Living expenses, not to exceed $3,000., can also be covered. This can relieve a lot of your worries and allow you the freedom to concentrate on all the other issues involved in going through the adoption process. The payment of these expenses must be approved by an Ohio judge on a case-by-case basis. These monies are not to be paid directly to the expectant mother but will go thru either her agency or attorney. Any form of payments, including money, gifts, or favors in exchange for placing a child for adoption is Illegal in Ohio. Jennifer S. Jones has written an informative article covering these expenses. 

I also investigated the availability of maternity homes Ohio. It appears that the largest home operating in Ohio, The Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers was closed in 1982. I could not locate even one maternity home that is still operating.

I have found a plethora of resources for pregnant, unwed teens in many areas of Ohio. There are, agencies and services that can help you: find housing; health care; food; and free medical transportation. There is also help for pregnant teens to finish their high school educations by giving them cash assistance.

Prenatal care is available for anyone with an unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy and delivery education, information on the stages of pregnancy, labor pain, and cesarean sections. You can take part in nutrition programs and be given maternity clothes. There are also Childbirth Classes available. You can have HIV and STD testing done as well.

If there is anyone facing a high-risk pregnancy, they can be matched to a volunteer mother who has recently experienced a similar pregnancy complication. This volunteer will stay in touch with you and offer you support throughout your pregnancy. 

 Please check out this informative website: https://capforkids.org/columbus/pregnancy-resources-and-infants/pregnancy-support-and-help. 

Counselling is available up to and including post-partum support. You can get employment assistance and birth control guidance. You can get whatever help you need with postpartum depression as well as guidance with your personal development and goal setting. 

Some of the laws pertaining to How does Adoption in Ohio Work?

1. One important law is that it is illegal for prospective birth parents to advertise for adoption in Ohio. They cannot do online postings and searches, paper flyers, or any other form of advertising.

2. Adoptions across state lines will have to abide by the birth mother’s home state laws. If the prospective adoptive parents live in Ohio, the law dictates that they must have a six-month residency.

3. A consent must be signed by the biological parents or birth mother in the presence of an attorney or a licensed notary public. This cannot be done until 72 hours have passed after the birth of the baby.

4. Ohio law states that any child 12 years of older who is being placed for adoption must consent to the adoption.

5. A voluntary permanent surrender of a child is irrevocable unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the consent was obtained by duress, fraud, or undue influence instead of by free choice. 

6. Ohio grants a one-year Statute of Limitations to challenge the surrender of a child for adoption. (Oh.Rev.Code.Sec. 5103.151) 

How Does Adoption in Ohio work in regard to “Open Adoptions”?

Open adoptions allow birth parents to have some form of contact with the adoptive parents and the adopted child. Whether it be letters, photos, emails, phone calls or visits. It does not mean that you will be co-parenting the child with the adoptive parents. These agreements are intended to be in the best interest of the child. 

Experts recommend “open adoptions” because they have shown to be beneficial for both birth and adoptive parents and especially for the adoptee. 

The idea of legally enforcing an “open adoption” agreement is relatively new and can vary from state to state.

The State of Ohio specifically states that “mutual agreements for contact are non-binding and non-enforceable”. 

Virginia Spence has written an article “Open Adoption Agreements Described” which will provide you with much information pertaining to Open Adoptions as well as their enforcement. 

 How Does Adoption in Ohio work? when it comes to uncovering adoption information later?

An adopted person age 21 or older may submit a request with the Department of Health for assistance in allowing their birth parent or birth sibling to find them. The adoptee would have to make a written request to the Department of Health and provide their residence address, notarized signature and two items of identification. This information is then placed in the adoptee’s file, which would allow birth parents or siblings to locate the adoptee’s name. Unless this request is later rescinded by the adoptee. Which would then disallow a birth parent or sibling from finding out their adoptive name. This request and rescinding of the requests can happen as many times as the adoptee wishes. (Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI. Domestic relations Children S 3107.49)

Summary

I sincerely hope I have led the way for you to uncover the vast amount of information available to you in the State of Ohio. Get every piece of information you can get your hands on. Research, and talk to others who are at very least sympathetic and have your best interests at heart. Seek out someone close to you who can give you the support you need in continuing on your adoption journey.

I know firsthand what an unbelievably difficult time this is. I placed my identical twin boys for adoption in the mid-1960s when I was an unwed teenager. I had a terrible time in making the decisions necessary for their future. I did not have available to me as much information you can avail yourself to currently. I did not receive any type of counseling, which caused much distress in the years following their adoption. My boys were placed in foster care in New York. After months of misery and uncertainty I went to visit them in foster care. They were being very well cared for, which gave me some peace. But it was holding both boys on my lap while trying to feed each of them a bottle when reality really struck. That and the fact that there were two cribs and two highchairs, all the things I could not provide. I needed to finally make my decision. 

I went on to meet with a social worker at the NY Foundling Hospital once or twice. Finally, signed the release papers for my sons to be adopted. They were placed at about 10 months old. I just needed that additional time to disprove my belief that I could work things out and raise the boys on my own.

Do what works for you! This is a decision you are making for your child’s future. Your decision is something you will live with for the rest of your life. You want to feel that your decision came from your heart and that you passionately believe you did the right thing and had no other alternative. 

I wish you all the peace of mind that you deserve for making these tough decisions to ensure your child has the best life!

Linda O'Donnell

Linda O'Donnell

Linda O’Donnell is the director of a senior citizen day program. As a credentialed dementia specialist she has a passion for engaging folks with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by easing their lives as well as the lives of their loved ones. She has been reunited with one of her twin boys 52 years after the adoption. She describes this joyful bonding of her new family with her existing family is nothing short of magical!