Helping Ohio Residents Start Families

Adoption is a compassionate act that allows children to experience the love and sense of belonging that comes with being a family. Also, prospective adoptive parents get to fulfill their dream of having a family of their own. However, the adoption process involves important legal issues regarding a person’s parental rights. That is why it is important to consult an experienced adoption lawyer in Northeast Ohio about the adoption process. At Erb Legal LLC, you can benefit from the skill and background that our lead attorney, Thomas L. Erb Jr., offers regarding legal issues in connection to the adoption process.

You don’t have to wait to receive the legal representation you need for legal matters involving adoptions—call Erb Legal LLC at (330) 446-3606 today.

Tom Erb Jr. is the family lawyer you want in your corner.

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Who May Adopt a Child Under Ohio Law?

Adoption is a legal process, recognized by statute, involving the designation of a legal relationship between a parent and child from which certain legal rights and obligations arise. In general, adoption occurs between a child and an adult who is not their natural birth parent.

Under Ohio Revised Code § 3107.03, only the following persons may adopt someone:

  • “A husband and wife, if at least one of them is an adult;
  • An unmarried adult;
  • The unmarried minor parent of the person to be adopted; and
  • A married adult without the other spouse joining as a petitioner if the other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted, the petitioner and the other spouse are separated, or because of an unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or similar circumstances making it difficult or impossible to obtain the other spouse’s consent to the adoption.”

The adoption process requires the adoptee’s birth parents to give up their parental rights so the adopting parents can assume the duties and rights of the adoptee’s legal parents. The adoptive parents generally have superior custodial rights compared to nonparents, including the child’s relatives.

Different Forms of Adoption

Adoptions can be distinguished into the categories of agency adoptions, independent adoptions, open adoptions, and closed adoptions.

In agency adoptions, the process is facilitated by an intermediary adoption agency that is responsible for pairing prospective adoptees with adopting parents. Additionally, agency adoptions typically involve more counseling and training for the prospective adoptive parents and the natural parents of the adoptee.

Independent adoptions—also known as “private adoptions”—is a process where the adopting parents work with adoption attorneys instead of an adoption agency.

Ohio Revised Code § 5103.16 lists the following requirements for independent adoptions:

  • “Prior to the placement, the parents of the child must have appeared before the probate court of the county (Form 49.09) in which the parents reside or in which the person seeking to adopt the child resides for approval of the proposed placement. The parents must sign and file a statement showing that they are aware of their right to contest the decree of adoption,…
  • An independent assessment of the placement must be conducted, and the court must determine that the proposed placement is in the best interest of the child.
  • The court must approve the proposed placement (Form 49.10).”

Historically, most adoptions in the United States involved little-to-no contact between the prospective adoptive parents and the adoptee’s natural parents. This type of adoption is commonly referred to as a “closed adoption.”

Today, more and more adoptions involve greater levels of contact between adopting parents and the child’s natural parents—also known as “open adoptions.” In some cases, the child’s natural parents may retain certain rights that they would have otherwise relinquished in closed adoptions.

However, the emotional and developmental benefits of preserving some connection between the adoptee and their natural parents have inspired a growing trend favoring open adoptions. However, such adoptions can be more complicated. As a result, there are certain laws in place governing open adoption proceedings.

Ohio law regulates open adoptions, prohibiting the following:

  • “Provide for the birth parent to share with the prospective adoptive parent parental control and authority over the child placed for adoption or in any manner limit the adoptive parent’s full parental control and authority over the adopted child;
  • Deny the adoptive parent or child access to forms pertaining to the social or medical histories of the birth parent if the adoptive parent or child is entitled to them under section 3107.17 of the Revised Code;
  • Deny the adoptive parent or child access to a copy of the contents of the child’s adoption file if the adoptive parent or child is entitled to them under section 3107.47 of the Revised Code;
  • Deny the adoptive parent, child, birth parent, birth sibling, or other relative access to non-identifying information that is accessible pursuant to section 3107.66 of the Revised Code or to materials, photographs, or information that is accessible pursuant to section 3107.68 of the Revised Code;
  • Provide for the open adoption to be binding or enforceable.”

Get Legal Advice from a Northeast Ohio Adoption Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights and the diverse legal issues involving adoptions, you should consult an experienced adoption attorney. At Erb Legal LLC, we have years of experience in the practice of Ohio family law, including adoption proceedings. We are here to help make sure your dream of starting a family can be realized with little or no legal complications.

If you would like to arrange for a free consultation with Attorney Thomas L. Erb Jr. to explore your legal rights and options, please call us at (330) 446-3606 or contact our office online today.