For anyone considering adoption, one of the first questions that typically comes to mind is what the requirements are for being eligible to adopt. While adoption requirements are becoming much more uniform throughout the country, the rules governing eligibility to adopt do vary from state to state. Becoming familiar with the adoption requirements in Ohio is an important first step in the adoption journey. This article seeks to provide some general guidelines for the adoption requirements in Ohio. If you are interested in learning more about your eligibility to adopt in Ohio, we are here to help walk you through the process.
Who is Eligible to Adopt in Ohio?
According to the rules governing adoption requirements in Ohio, the following persons are eligible to adopt:
- A married couple, adopting together, when at least one is an adult
- An unmarried adult
- The unmarried minor parent of the person being adopted, such as the putative father
- A married adult, without their spouse, in any of the following situations:
- The spouse supports the adoption and is the parent of the person being adopted, such as when a stepparent petitions to adopt their stepchild;
- The petitioner and their spouse are legally separated; or
- The spouse’s reason for not jointly petitioning to support the adoption is excused by the court, such as when due to prolonged unexplained absence, incapacity, or other circumstances that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult to obtain either the support or refusal of the spouse. This often happens when one of the parents is in the military and is deployed during the adoption process.
The rules governing adoption requirements in Ohio apply equally to same-sex couples. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriages were not recognized by the state of Ohio, which meant that a gay or lesbian person could only adopt individually. However, same-sex couples are now able to adopt together as a married couple.
What are the Adoption Requirements in Ohio?
In addition to the eligibility requirements, there are requirements every prospective adoptive parent must meet in order to adopt in Ohio. Building Blocks Adoption Service and the state of Ohio take very seriously the responsibility of ensuring all children placed through adoption are placed in happy, safe environments with people capable of caring for them.
All adult members of the adoptive family’s household will need to submit to a background check prior to being approved to adopt in Ohio. Any criminal offenses of these individuals will be evaluated to determine whether they will impact a child placed in the home through adoption. Criminal offenses involving any kind of sexual misconduct or domestic violence will weigh heavily against a prospective adoptive parent’s ability to be eligible to adopt in Ohio.
State law requires that all prospective adoptive parents undergo a home study by an assessor, typically hired by the adoption agency through which they are adopting a child. After the home study is complete, the assessor will file a report with the court prior to the adoption hearing. The purpose of this home study, and the resulting report, is to determine whether an individual or a couple is suitable to adopt. Determining whether a person is suitable to adopt is based on several factors, including:
- Physical and mental health of the individual or couple wanting to adopt;
- Financial stability of the home in which the child(ren) would be placed;
- Emotional readiness of the individual or couple wanting to adopt.
A person or couple does not need to be the picture of health or overly wealthy in order to be approved to adopt in Ohio. The purpose of this home study is to ensure that the adoptive parents can provide a stable, safe, and healthy home in which to raise a child. Adoptive parents need to be physically and mentally healthy enough to be able to care for a child and financially stable enough to provide for the needs of the child. To gauge an adoptive family’s physical, mental, and financial health, recent medical and financial statements will likely need to be provided to the assessor.
For many adoptive families, the home study is the most nerve-wracking adoption requirement in Ohio. Adoptive families are entitled to receive a copy of the assessor’s report, regardless of the conclusion the assessor makes. In the event that a home study results in a negative report, adoptive families are able to appeal the assessor’s opinion.
All of the prospective adoptive families at Building Blocks Adoption Service have undergone all state-required background checks and assessments to ensure they are able to provide a loving, safe environment. Are you interested in adoption and want to learn more about the adoption requirements in Ohio? We are here to help.