When we contemplate adoption, we usually think of one of two things. Sometimes we remember famous adopted children, like Moses, Superman, or little orphan Annie. Sometimes we're reminded of that friend/cousin/sibling we know who has adopted. The one consistent thread in all adoption stories is that each story is unique.
In Ohio, as throughout the U.S., adoption is a legal process that establishes one or two people as a child's parent(s). Adoptions can sever ties between a child and a birth parent, but it is far more common for that to happen in a separate case. It is possible to adopt a child, a step-child, or even an adult under special circumstances. Ohio adoption cases are handled by the Probate Court of each county. In most cases, an adoption case cannot start until the child has become a ward of the state. This means that the child has no legal parent and is often called a "waiting child" or an "adoptable child". A child can lose a legal parent through death, agreement of the parent, or a Court order severing the parent-child relationship.
Adoptions can take an extended amount of time. The cases take at least six months due to an Ohio law that requires the child to live with the family for at least six months before finalization. An adoption case can last anywhere from six to twelve months, but exceptions exist. As with most other areas of law, adoptions are individual and the timeline will depend on the case. I'll cover the timelines of adoptions in an upcoming post, so please stay tuned.
Adoption cases also have out-of-court requirements. Adoptive families receive home visits and evaluations while the child is in the home. The timeline also does not include how long it takes for a family to become approved as an adoptive family. That approval must happen before a child is placed with a family.
If you are interested in adopting, you need an attorney who has the patience and experience to help you finalize the adoption. Please call or email me today to schedule an in-home consultation about your adoption plans.