In Ohio, the Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over adoptions. Adoption is a proceeding in which a legally-recognized relationship is established between a parent and a child who are not related biologically. Persons who may adopt include a husband and wife, jointly; a step-parent; and a single adult. An adoption may be a “private” adoption, without the involvement of an adoption agency. In this case, both the adopting parents and the birth parents must have their own attorneys to complete the adoption process.
Often when a step-parent comes into a child’s life, they become a parent in every sense of the child’s life in terms of financially and emotionally assisting the child, assisting with homework, and engaging in the other daily tasks of raising a child. In these circumstances, the only thing left to do is to bring the legal relationship between the step-parent and child together in an actual child-parent relationship. This process is referred to as a “step-parent” adoption wherein the step-parent desires to adopt the child of his or her spouse. If both of the natural parents of the minor child are alive, the consent of both parents are required. However, the consent of a parent may not be necessary if the parent has not had contact and/or financially supported the minor child within twelve (12) months from the filing of the Petition for Adoption. If consent has been obtained from both parents and/or the consent is not necessary due to the lack of contact and/or support within twelve (12) months from the filing of the Petition, the Court will then look to the best interest of the child in determining whether to grant the Petition for Adoption.
The adopting applicant and the child or children being adopted must appear at the final hearing before the Probate Court.
There are many steps that must be taken to successfully complete an application, including background and medical checks. Our attorneys are experienced in assisting clients through the process, for birth parents as well as adopting parents.