Adoption is a legal process by which a parent-child relationship is established in Ohio. Adoptions are heard in the probate court of the county with proper venue. Attorney Jonathon “JC” Elgin assists families and individuals securing adoptions throughout the state. Below are some common adoption questions. This page isn’t legal advice — if you need help with an adoption, you should consult an attorney that practices adoption law in Ohio.

Who can be adopted in Ohio?

In Ohio, a minor may be adopted. A non-objecting adult may be adopted, if they fit into one of the following categories:

  • Totally or permanently disabled,
  • Intellectual disability (as defined in R.C. 5123.01),
  • Established child-foster caregiver, kinship caregiver, or child-stepparent relationship while a minor and consents,
  • On 18th birthday was in permanent custody or in a PPLA of a children’s services agency and consents,
  • Adult is child of spouse of petitioner and consents, or
  • Became 18 between the filing of the petition and court decision and consents in writing.

Who can adopt in Ohio?

In Ohio, a married couple, an unmarried adult, or an unmarried minor parent of adoptee may adopt. A married adult does not need to join their spouse, if it is a stepparent adoption, they are legally separated pursuant to Ohio law, or if the spouse fails to join because of a prolonged, unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity ,or other reasonable circumstances.

Where do you file for adoption?

You file for adoption in the probate court in the county where any of the following applies:

  • Adoptee was born or resides,
  • Petitions resides,
  • Parent of adoptee resides,
  • Petitioner is stationed for military service, or
  • Agency having permanent custody is located.
  • Mother of minor,
  • Father, if:
    • minor was conceived whiled mother and father were married,
    • minor was adopted by father, or
    • paternity was established in a court proceeding or acknowledged.
  • Putative Father of minor,
  • Any person or agency having permanent custody or court order to consent, or
  • Minor, if more than 12 years old, unless court determines consent is not required.
  • A parent has not communicated with the minor or provided support for one year,
  • Putative father who didn’t timely register with the putative father registry, is not the father, willfully abandoned or didn’t support the child, or willfully abandoned the mother during pregnancy,
  • Parent whose right to consent was relinquished or terminated,
  • Legal guardian who failed to respond to request for consent within 30 days or who is withholding consent unreasonably,
  • Spouse of the adoptee if consent cannot be attained because of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult to obtain the consent or refusal of the spouse,
  • Other specific scenarios (child conceived by rape, parent located in a foreign country, subject to certain conditions)

Is a home study required?

Generally speaking, YES. Except for foster children in the home for at least 6 months, a home study must be filed with the Court at least 10 days before petition for adoption is heard. A home study and assessment must be completed by a qualified adoption assessor. Each county has certain agencies and assessors with whom they work. There may be a local rule or local practice that dictates who should be used for the home study process.

Can an Adoption be appealed?

Yes, a short appellate windows exists for a year following the final decree. After a year, an adoption cannot be questions, even for fraud, unless the petitioner has not taken custody of the minor, a stepparent adoption would not have been granted but for fraud of the petitioner stepparent or spouse, or in an adult adoption, the adult has no knowledge of the order within a 6-month period.