The Different Types of Adoptions and Their Procedures

August 5, 2016

family law attorney

Family law statutes in Ohio recognize many kinds of child and adult adoption. Each petition to form a legally recognized parent-child or guardian-dependent relationship by a means other than birth involves unique facts. Some standard procedures exist, however. The family law attorneys with Edward F. Whipps outline the basic rules and considerations for the most-common types of adoption here. You can learn more and request assistance with your own adoption case by calling us at (614) 461-6006 or by filling out this online contact form

Third-Party Child Adoptions 

This is the kind of adoption most people think of most of the time—a single person, a married man and woman, or a same-sex couple work with a private or public agency to add a child to their family. Completing a third-party child adoption requires going through the following steps: 

  • Identifying the child to adopt, which is a process that can take many months and include taking more than one child into the home overnight or for a weekend to assess how well the adoption might work
  • Working with agency personnel to identify all of the adoptee’s special needs for health care, mental health services, intellectual development therapy, and emotional support
  • Completing training on parenting and meeting the child’s special needs, if such training is deemed necessary
  • Filing adoption paperwork with the family law court for the Ohio county in which the prospective adoptive parent or couple live
  • Passing home inspections and other assessments by agency staff and court officers
  • Going to court to have a judge approve the adoption
  • Securing a new birth certificate and Social Security card for the adopted child if the adoption is closed (i.e., the identity of the birth parents is kept confidential) 

Note that adopting a child from outside the United States requires going through many of these steps twice. Also, every legal adoption involves the step of standing before a judge and asking him or her to approve the creation of the new relationship. Prospective adoptive parents should hire a family attorney to advise and represent them long before the court date. 

Stepparent Adoptions of Minor Children 

A man or woman who marries someone who already has legal custody of children younger than 18 has a strong case to make for adopting those children. The stepparent adoption process skips many of the steps required for third-party child adoptions, being largely limited to filing an adoption petition and clearing the adoption hearing. 

Be aware, however, that a child’s birth parent has a right to challenge an adoption even if he or she does not have custody. Raising a challenge does not halt or permanently block an adoption, but a judge will consider the birth parent’s testimony. A judge and court officers will also speak with the child being adopted to get a sense for whether approving the adoption serves his or her best interests. 

Grandparent Adoptions of Grandchildren 

Ohio law does not explicitly grant custody rights to grandparents, but family law courts in the state usually respond favorably to an adoption request from a grandfather or grandmother. The procedure for a grandchild’s adoption by a grandparent largely matches the one used for third-party child adoptions. Challenges from birth parents might be expected. 

Note that many grandparents take in grandchildren informally. Creating a legal relationship that mirrors the child-parent relationship can make a lot of sense. When an adult becomes the legally recognized guardian for a child, the adult becomes able to act on the child’s behalf in matters like enforcing child support orders and making medical decisions. Speaking with an Ohio family attorney will help a grandparent understand all the pros and cons of seeking to adopt grandchildren they have taken into their home. 

Adults Adopting Adults 

An adult would have one of three main reasons for wanting to adopt another adult: 

  • An adopter marries a person who has grown children and wants to create a legal relationship for estate or caregiving purposes
  • An adopter wants to ensure a disabled person who has aged out of or otherwise become disqualified from government-provided housing and care continues receiving the services they require
  • An adopter is the adult child of a parent or guardian who has become disabled or mentally incompetent 

Once a petition for such an adult adoption is filed with a family law judge, assessments and evaluations are performed to ensure that the adoptee will be protected and respected in the new relationship. When the adoptee is disabled or incapacitated, court officers will focus closely on whether the adoptive guardian can provide for the person financially and make sure that he or she will receive the health care they need.

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