Understanding Adoption Laws and Procedures in Franklin County

Ohio Adoption Laws

Understanding Adoption Laws and Procedures in Franklin County

Whether you are a prospective adoptive parent or a birth parent, adoption is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It can be exciting and fulfilling but it can also be emotional and overwhelming. The Ohio adoption process is often full of twists and turns, including unpredictable waiting times, and legal complexities.

Since adoption is a lifetime commitment, it is crucial to understand it and the laws and procedures therein before embarking on the lifelong journey. Understanding the local Franklin County adoption laws will help you attain your adoption goals. It will also prepare you for any unexpected twists and turns.

Family structures have changed in recent times to include single parents, divorced parents, and LBGTQ+ individuals and families. Accordingly, birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, and families need to understand how the adoption laws and procedures deal with the changed family structures.

Understanding the various Franklin County adoption laws and procedures can be overwhelming for prospective adoptive parents and families. However, a skilled and experienced Franklin County adoption attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities and attain your adoption objectives.

Ohio and Franklin County’s Adoption Laws

Adoptions in Franklin County are governed by Ohio Laws. However, the adoption process, including the Probate Court hearings takes place at the local level. Some of the basic provisions of the state adoption laws answer common questions including;

  1. Who may be adopted? According to Ohio laws, any minor child can be adopted. An adult can only be adopted if the law determines they are permanently disabled or developmentally disabled. An adult is also eligible for adoption if they had a stepparent or a foster parent relationship with the prospective adoptive parent when the adoptee was a minor. If an adult was in the permanent custody of a public or private children’s service or placing agency at the time of their eighteenth birthday, they may be eligible for adoption.
  2. Who may adopt? Ohio laws allow several categories of people to adopt, including a married couple, a stepparent, and an unmarried adult. An unmarried minor parent of the adoptee can also adopt.
  3. Is child consent needed in an Ohio adoption? Anyone seeking to adopt must have the consent of the child’s mother, father, any ‘putative’ father, or any person or agency that has permanent custody of the minor. However, due to changing social values, especially regarding children’s rights, Ohio laws also require the child’s consent if they are 12 years and above.

According to the law, a birth parent can give consent for adoption as early as 72 years after giving birth. However, the consent must be done in a Court or the presence of a court-authorized individual.

Ohio’s Code Section 3107 which governs adoption also requires any person seeking to adopt a minor to seek the representation of an agency or a lawyer. However, an attorney may not represent both the prospective adoptive parent and the parent placing their child for adoption.

Types of Adoption

Your adoption goals will determine the type of adoption you will use. The type of adoption is also important as it determines the adoption procedure. There are several adoption options in Franklin County, including;

  1. Agency Adoption: The adopting individual or family seeks to adopt from a licensed adoption agency. Typically, the birth parent voluntarily surrenders the custody of their child to the agency. In some cases, the child is placed in the agency if the Juvenile Court terminates the birth parent’s parental rights.
  2. Private Adoption. This is where the adopting individual or family uses the services of an adoption lawyer. The attorney facilitates the adoption and acts as an intermediary between the adopting parents and the birth parents. Agency and private adoptions are mostly for the adoption of newborns or infants.
  3. Foster Care Adoption. It involves a foster parent or any other qualified adult adopting an older child in Franklin County’s foster care system.
  4. Stepparent and Relative Adoption. This occurs when the prospective adopting parent is a stepparent of the child to be adopted. The adoptive parent can also be the child’s relative, including a grandparent, uncle, or auntie. However, there needs to be the consent of the parent whose parental rights will be terminated by the adoption.
  5. Foreign or International Adoption. This involves an Ohio individual or family adopting an older child from another country. The adoption is often done under the other country’s laws. However, there needs to be an Ohio adoption hearing to obtain a birth certificate for the child.

The Franklin County Adoption Process

Once you have decided to adopt and have chosen the type of adoption, you need to follow Ohio adoption procedures. Some of the basic steps in a Franklin County adoption include;

  1. Initial Consultation. This is the first step and it involves getting all the information you need about adoption including, adoption expenses, eligibility, and other legal requirements. You can obtain the information from your adoption agency, adoption attorney, or related organizations/individuals.
  2. Choosing an Adoption Agency. The step involves selecting an adoption agency or lawyer to facilitate your adoption. The agency/attorney will help you formally start the adoption process, including submitting the adoption application.
  3. Attend a Pre-adoption Training. This involves attending pre-service training to learn about adoption, including required skills. The training is a state requirement before a home study. However, there are exemptions.
  4. Home Study. It is mandatory to complete a home study as a prospective adoptive parent. It involves a licensed assessor or social worker evaluating your ability and readiness to adopt a child.
  5. Finding a Child. The step involves working with the adoption agency or social worker to find a match.
  6. Visiting the Child. After finding a match, you need to visit the child, including going to the hospital if you are adopting a newborn.
  7. Placement or Bringing the Child Home. This is an important step where you take the child home. You can only finalize the adoption after the child has been staying with you for at least six months.
  8. Adoption Finalization. This is the final step and involves filing a petition to adopt the child with Franklin County’s Probate Court. The step also involves an adoption hearing, the signing of the final adoption decree, and obtaining a new birth certificate for the child.

Have a Franklin County Adoption Attorney by Your Side

The Ohio adoption process can be complicated, especially as you have to keep track of different state laws and procedures. Additionally, you need to find a match and work with their parents and attorney or agency to achieve your adoption objectives. Despite the complexities, working with a skilled and experienced Franklin County adoption lawyer can help you achieve your adoption goal.

Our well-qualified and experienced Franklin County adoption attorney at The Law Office of Jessica G. King is prepared to help you navigate the Ohio adoption process and settle into your new family life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our adoption services.

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