Adoptions FAQs

Who May Adopt?

  • Married couples jointly.
  • Step-parent.
  • Single Adult.

Who May be Adopted?

  • Minor child.
  • An adult person determined to be totally and permanently disabled or developmentally disabled.
  • An adult may adopt another adult provided a parent-child relationship existed during the adoptee’s minor years.

Must I have an Attorney or Agency Arrange the Adoption?

Yes. Only an attorney or agency may arrange an adoption.

Who Must Consent?

The parents of the child to be adopted, a minor being adopted who is over 12 years old, and an adult adoptee must consent to adoption. Questions concerning consent should be directed to an agency or attorney.

What are the Rights of an Unwed Father?

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 prior to the birth of the child or no later than 15 days after the child’s birth. As to the rights of a putative father prior to January 1, 1997, contact an agency or attorney.

What is an Open Adoption?

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.

Where Should I File for Adoption?

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:

  • The Agency having custody of the child is located.
  • The child was born.
  • The person or persons seeking to adopt reside.
  • Person is stationed in Military Service.
  • In an independent placement: where the natural parent resides.

Is a Home Study Necessary?

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.

Does the Court ever appoint an attorney or waive Courts costs?

No. If you are unable to hire a private attorney, you may contact Legal Aid. Adoption fees are never waived.

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. Any exceptions can only be granted by the Court for good cause shown.

Can I Access Adoption Files?

Adoption files are confidential, and closed to the public. The adoptee or adopting parents, however, may obtain the following information:

  • Medical Information: Generally, all adoption records are open for the purpose of obtaining the medical background of biological parents. The Court or agency involved in the adoption should be contacted for that information.
  • 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. Copies of the original birth certificate may be obtained from the State Bureau of Vital Statistics.
    1996 to date: Since September 18, 1996, 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.

Will the Birth Certificate be 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.

Adopted children born in Ohio or a foreign country, receive their new birth certificate from the Office of Vital Statistics, Columbus, Ohio, Request for Foreign Birth Record. Children adopted in Ohio, but born in other states, obtain their new birth certificates from the Office of Vital Statistics in the state where they were born.

Can an Adoption be Undone?

No. An adoption is permanent and forever! Contesting an adoption must be done within one year after the final decree is issued.

Where can I Obtain Information About Adoptions?

Belmont County Agency:

Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services

Children Services

68145 Hammond Road Saint Clairsville, Ohio  43950


State Agencies:

Office of Vital Statistics
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-2406
614.466.2531 (for certificate copies)

Putative Father Registry
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
255 E. Main Street, 3rd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-5222

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
30 E. Broad Street, 32nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3414