Welcome to the Ohio Adoption Guide. Whether you are here because you are searching for more information about what you need to do to adopt a child in Ohio or because you are considering placing your newborn for adoption, this guide will help get you started. With so many options, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. Consider this guide the beginning of your adoption journey in Ohio. 

Private Adoptions in Ohio

A private adoption is where the birth parents and the adoptive family arrange the adoption themselves with the assistance of a lawyer. Very often, the birth mother and adoptive family may know each other in day-to-day life such as school, church, or through other family members. Sometimes, a birth mother may answer a private ad from a potential adoptive couple. In any case, it is possible to adopt privately in Ohio. 

If you are a hopeful adoptive individual or couple, you can reach out to expectant mothers in a variety of ways such as creating a Parent Profile on Adoption.com. Keep in mind—however—that in Ohio, only adoption agencies and attorneys can arrange an adoption.

Additionally, expectant mothers should consider if they want an open adoption, semi-open adoption, or closed adoption plan. The term open adoption means that there is an agreement to have contact with the child after the adoption. Open adoption can look different in each circumstance. Birth parents and adoptive parents should discuss how their open adoption plan will be agreeable with everyone involved.

There are expenses that can be provided to the expectant mother legally, although this varies by adoption agency and adoption attorney. Be sure to check with your adoption agency or attorney for what specific expenses may or may not be covered for expectant parents. 

If you are looking in Ohio for an adoption attorney, you can search according to your location on this website. It can be a good place to begin the private adoption process if that is what feels right for you. 

Agency Adoptions 

In an agency adoption, you select an adoption agency you feel comfortable working alongside. Birth mothers should research what services are available to them through the adoption agency. Some recommended steps include identifying available counseling, birth mother support groups, and after adoption services. The agency should take time to answer all questions about the adoption process until you are satisfied that you understand. 

Being able to choose your child’s adoptive family, from many options, is an aspect of agency adoption that appeals to many expectant mothers. Generally, the adoption agency provides profiles of adoptive parents across the country for expectant mothers to browse and identify potential candidates. The Gladney Center for Adoption, for example, has an online “Find a Family” page that allows expectant mothers to search using various criteria such as regions, ethnicity, whether or not the hopeful adoptive parents have children already, and pets.

As a prospective adoptive family, you may decide to use an agency based on previous  experiences with the adoption process in Ohio. Adoption agencies can answer many of your questions and can walk you through the steps on your adoption journey. 

So how do you choose the best  agency for your needs? How do you know if they are ethical? An article on Adoption.com can help you with these types of questions. In Ohio, there are many agencies to choose from. It is important that, as part of the process, you contact more than one. It might help to have a list of questions ready to ask them and be sure to ask for references that you can contact. Also, be sure to check out their background as noted in the article above. 

Once you choose your adoption agency, you begin the adoption process.. Ohio, like most states, requires extensive information about you before you will be allowed to adopt. This is called a home study. Home studies are required to adopt in Ohio (every state requires a home study). Financial forms, background and criminal checks, medical forms, child abuse clearance, tax forms, marriage certificate or divorce decree, reference letters, and a written biography about yourself are some items you will need to provide the agency.

In Ohio, preplacement training is required. Each agency has their own preplacement classes they will recommend. Some things that you might learn in these classes are the following: the adoption process, the legal rights and responsibilities of the adoptive parent(s), child development, cultural diversity, behavior management, and more. These classes are often great times to also meet other prospective parents who can be supportive during the adoption process. 

The preplacement training and home study could take months to complete, so having patience with the process is essential. It is important to remember that, in the end, you should be well-informed and ready to make the next step to becoming a parent. 

Foster Care/Adoption through Social Services 

Perhaps you are considering adopting through the social services/child welfare system in Ohio. In general, children available for adoption through foster care sometimes tend to be older and might be harder to place, although that is not always the case. While I lived in New York, we were able to adopt our youngest child through our county’s social services agency. She came to us at 3 months old, and we finalized her adoption a few days short of her first birthday. Be aware that in general, foster parents are usually granted the first chance to adopt an infant that they have had in their care. 

The adoption process through a state agency is generally the same as through a private agency. First, contact your local department of social services and ask to speak to someone who is in charge of foster care/adoption. In Ohio, you are not required to become a foster parent in order to adopt a child from the foster care system. However, you may decide that this is an avenue you want to explore. Most agencies have an orientation that you can attend that will help you understand the process of adopting through the child welfare system. 

As in private agency adoptions, you will need to complete preplacement training and provide information about yourself and your family for state agency adoptions. According to the Ohio.gov site, you will be required to provide  “medical statements, financial statements, background checks, references, safety audits and fire inspections.” Once again, this can take several months, so staying patient and flexible is key. There may be things that you must do in order for your home to pass an inspection. For example, we needed to install a railing on our staircase before our home study was completed. 

During the home study process, your caseworker is getting to know you and your family. There will be many discussions about the child that you are hoping to adopt. Anything from the child’s gender, age, interests, and special needs will be discussed, as well as if you will consider adopting a sibling group. By the end of the home study process, your caseworker should know you well enough to suggest appropriate matches. 

If you are wondering about the children that are available for adoption right now in Ohio, you can check out the Ohio state photolisting site. You can prioritize searches by individual profiles or sibling groups. As you are looking at the photolistings, you may see that children’s photos are not shown in order to protect their privacy. However, you will be able to see the child’s name, age, gender, race, a write-up about the child’s interests and what type of family would be the best fit for the child.

After being matched with a child, you will have the chance to visit with the child and have the child visit you in order to be sure that it is a good match. 

If you are a birth mother, you cannot place your child for adoption until 48 hours after the birth of the baby. If you decided to place your child for adoption through social services, you will have a caseworker who can work with you and answer your questions about placing a child for adoption through a local  adoption agency, if you feel that is what’s right for you and your baby. In our case, our daughter’s birth mother surrendered her at the hospital, and she went straight to a foster home specializing in infants until her placement with us.

The cost for adopting through the child welfare system is generally low, but you will need to check for more information on your specific state regarding the exact costs of foster adoption.

Grants for Adoption 

You do not need to be rich in order to adopt a child. Although a private adoption can be expensive, many adoptive parents find ways to help with the expense of adoption. If you adopt a child with special needs, either privately or through the state, you may be eligible for adoption assistance. 

Adoptive parents can also check out Gift of Adoption which provides grants for eligible families to help with the expense of adopting both domestically and internationally. Grants of up to $10,000 are awarded monthly to adoptive families. You can apply for a grant by following this link as well as obtain more information about the grant itself.

Another option is Help Us Adopt. This service provides grants of up to $15,000. They help parents adopt domestically, internationally, and through the foster care system. They award grants four times per year, and you must have an approved home study to apply. 

Finally, some prospective adoptive parents set up GoFundMe accounts to help with their adoption or have fundraisers to help with their adoption expenses. 

Further Information

Here are some questions for expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents to consider and ask themselves and an adoption professional as they start down the path of adoption: 

As an expectant mother, you will make decisions about the following: “Do I want to place my child for adoption?” “What adoption agency should I use?” “What rights do I have as a birth parent?” “What kind of family do I want to choose for my child?” “What expenses can I legally be paid for?” “Do I want an open or closed adoption?” “What services are available for me after adoption?” 

As adoptive parents, you will need answers about the following:, “What type of adoption is right for us?” “What agency should we choose?” “How much can we afford to spend on the adoption?” “What is a home study like?” “Will we be approved for adoption?” “What training is required to adopt?” “Am I ready emotionally for adoption?” “What happens if the birth mother changes her mind?” “How do we finalize an adoption?”

If you are interested in further information about adoption in Ohio, these websites can be of assistance. 

Adoption.com- Adoption in Ohio

Adopting.org- 3 Things to Consider when Adopting in Ohio

National Adoption Foundation- Fund your Adoption 

Ohio Rules and Adoption Laws

Adoption Agencies in Ohio

Ohio Birth Parents Group

Foster and Adoption in Ohio

Making the decision to place your child for adoption or to welcome a child into your family through adoption is a decision that can be difficult. Sometimes, you may not even be sure of what questions to ask about adoption, and it can be overwhelming. Hopefully, starting with these resources can be helpful and may lead you to asking questions and having conversations about the next steps of the adoption journey. 

 “A birth mother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart.” — Skye Hardwick

“We should not be asking who this child belongs to, but who belongs to this child.” — Jim Gritter

Gina Chesnes lives in western NY and  is mom to 4 children, one who was adopted from the state foster care system as a baby, and Gigi to 7 grandchildren. She was a special education/ elementary education teacher for over 30 years in the same PreK-12 school that her children attended. Gina is passionate about animal welfare and has fostered over 100 cats and kittens…before having to stop because she kept too many! She also loves writing, gardening, traveling, reading and visiting her favorite place – the Outer Banks. In her free time, Gina writes on education issues at //oneburnedoutteacher.com/