Adoption Attorney in Columbus, OH
Participating in the adoption process, whether as a prospective adoptive parent or birth parent, is undoubtedly one of the most important and meaningful decisions you may make in your lifetime. There can be many circumstances to bring children into your family. Some individuals cannot have their own biological children, others desire to expand their family to include a child in need of a loving home, and others may want to adopt a stepchild in order to legally recognize an existing family unit. For both prospective adoptive parents and birth parents, the adoption process can be challenging to understand and navigate without the proper assistance.
Ohio requires that prospective adoptive parents have an attorney or a licensed adoption agency represent them. Having an experienced Columbus family law attorney walk you through the intricacies of adoption law will permit you to understand the intricacies of the law as well as ease any anxiety about the process.
How Does Ohio Adoption Work?
There are requirements for people looking to become adoptive parents, and there are provisions for the adoptees to meet before an adoption can be approved. Some are as simple as proving you can provide a stable home environment, but some are more restrictive.
Who Can Legally Adopt in Ohio?
Following the Ohio Revised Code, prospective parents must be approved by their adoption professional and pass a “home study.” A home study is essentially an evaluation of your home and lifestyle to determine a prospective adoptive parent’s readiness to adopt. Any member of the adopting household will need to be present for the study, regardless of age. A social worker will likely conduct the study.
To be eligible to adopt, you must be able to pass a criminal background check, complete home visits, interviews, and other various tasks. If they pass the above requirements, any adult in Ohio can legally adopt someone.
Who Can Be Adopted?
There are restrictions on who can be adopted in Ohio, but in general, minors and certain adults can be adopted. Children 12 or older need to give their consent to be adopted.
According to Ohio law, the consent for an adoption can be executed as early as 72 hours after a child is born and must be done at Court or in the presence of a person authorized to take such consent.
Adopting an Adult
While the typical adoption process is expected for minors, adults can be adopted, too. This is usually done to ensure full inheritance rights, social security benefits, access to medical records, and more.
Adult adoption generally occurs when:
- A former foster child ages out of the foster system, and a foster parent wants to adopt them
- Stepparents seeking to adopt their partner’s child whose biological parents never terminated their rights
- LGBTQIA+ parents who could not adopt their partner’s children previously
- Any parents who have assumed an informal parental role for now-adult children
An adult must consent to the adoption and there is paperwork to fill out to complete the process.
The Adoption Process
Once you have decided to pursue adoption, you’ll need to follow proper procedures to avoid complications in the future. You will need to determine what adoption is best for you, then work with your attorney and the local social services, such as the Franklin County Children Services and adoption assessor, to complete the process.
While birth parents may work with agencies and prospective adoptive parents to consent to adoptions, this is not always the case. Under Ohio law, both birth parents are typically required to consent to an adoption. This is even true in scenarios in which a relative or foster parent obtains legal custody of a minor child. However, there are some circumstances under which their consent is not required. If you are interested in adopting a child or believe adoption may be an option down the road, it is helpful to consult with an attorney in order to understand your rights and when it is an appropriate time to file the adoption.
Types of Adoptions
There are many options to expand your family through adoption. Maybe you have been a foster parent or have had custody of a child and are ready to take an extra step in giving a child a forever home. Or you have been selected by the child’s birth parent to raise them. Knowing which adoption type you’ll be using will likely determine the steps you should follow. Some adoption varieties include:
- Private Agency/Public Agency Adoptions (single parent, married couples, foster)
- Single parent adoptions: Ohio is one of the many states that allow a single parent to adopt a child, with the exact requirements as married couples.
- Foster care adoption: If a child is in the foster care system and is eligible for adoption, they could be adopted by a foster parent or another qualified adult.
- Adult Adoptions
- Custodian Adoption
- Relative Adoption
- Stepparent Adoption
- Embryo adoption: A marvel of modern medicine, donors may give their viable embryos to allow prospective parents the chance to raise a child of their own.
An experienced family law attorney will help you assess what kind of adoption may be best for you and what steps you should take to complete the process—having one familiar with local county rules and Ohio Revised Code could save you time and money.
Choosing the Adoption Professional Right for You
Once you have decided to adopt, you will need to find an adoption professional to work with you. There are local, state, and national services to use. And, of course, you can rely on family law firms to assist you. Even if you use an agency, having a law firm to help can keep the process fair and your documents straight.
What Happens After Adoption
For most families, once the placement of the adoptee is wrapped up, they begin life as usual. There may be some routine check-ins or check-ups, but for the most part, things carry on.
Putting any child up for adoption is a weighted decision, and some parents may regret or second guess that choice. There is a period that a birth parent may withdraw consent after the placement period.
Once the birth parents have signed their rights away at the beginning of the placement process, it’s usually considered a final decision. There are exceptions, but generally, adoption is permanent.
Can Biological Parents Contact Their Children?
Birth parents can send notes or letters to their children after they have been placed, generally through the adoption agency. It’s up to the adopted parents if they send those messages along. Similarly, adoptive parents may provide updates and photos to birth parents who request it. However, it is important that all parties understand their rights once the adoption is finalized. While adoptive parents and birth parents may agree to an “open adoption”, these agreements are not legally enforceable in Ohio. Adoptive parents may discontinue communication or any agreed upon updates at any time.
How Much Will the Process Cost & How Long Will It Take?
While bringing a new family member into the fold is a priceless and enriching experience, there will be some costs associated with the process. The costs associated with the adoption process vary greatly depending on the type of adoption that you pursue. Home studies and professional assistance are part of those costs, and the total amount can vary.
If you choose to adopt through a private adoption, you should expect to incur costs for legal fees (if not otherwise represented by an agency), fees to an agency (if represented by one), expenses associated with completing the home study (which vary) and post-placement supervision fees, as well court costs associated with the legal adoption process. There may also be fees associated with the medical and living expenses for the birth mother. After adoption, there could be some benefits available, such as federal and state tax credits. OJFS reports there are subsidies available in certain scenarios.
Consulting with a family law attorney can help you understand the potential expenses associated with various adoption scenarios.
The time period for the adoption process depends on what type of adoption you desire to pursue. Once a placement is made, finalizing the adoption could take three months to a year.
Have a Columbus Adoption Attorney on Your Side
There are many items to track during the adoption process, as you find your potential child and work with their parents and your attorney or professional adoption agent. An attorney with experience working through this process regardless of the type of adoption ensures a smooth process, helping you finalize the newest addition to your family.
The Columbus adoption lawyers at Arenstein & Andersen, Co., LPA are prepared to help you as you venture into the world of adoption. You can schedule a consultation with us through our online contact form or call our office (614) 602-6550.