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Learn About Access to Ohio Adoption Records

Many adoptees and others involved in an adoption in Ohio may need to access adoption records in Ohio. Are you looking to access these records today? This guide can help.

You could be searching to access Ohio adoption records for legal reasons, or simply out of curiosity. Adoption records are files of all the paperwork that was completed for an adoption. These include files processed by adoption attorneys and paperwork processed by the court.

In the past, most adoptions were closed and records were sealed. This meant that access was extremely difficult or restricted.

Today, since open or semi-open adoptions are the most common, records are more readily available and more easily accessible. Of course, you don’t want anyone to have access to your adoption records in Ohio. There are processes and requirements in place to provide reasonable protection of adoption information.

American Adoptions is a fully licensed adoption agency in Ohio, which means we are familiar with adoption record laws in Ohio. We have been facilitating successful adoptions for over 30 years. If you were adopted through our agency and you have questions about your adoption records, you can call us at 1-800-ADOPTION at any time. If you are considering adoption with us, you can contact us online for free information, or to start your adoption process today.

Please keep in mind, we are providing a guide to basic Ohio adoption record laws and this should not be taken as legal advice. You can contact an Ohio adoption attorney for answers about your adoption records in Ohio.

What Are Ohio Adoption Records?

The documents in an Ohio adoption record typically include the same types of paperwork found in adoption records across the United States. Records in an adoption file generally include demographics of the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee. Medical information collected at the time of birth and the birth certificate could be included as well. After adoption finalization, the final court document (the adoption decree) is included in the adoption file.

There are two types of information in an adoption file:

  • Identifying information

  • Non-identifying information

The adoption information is separated in this way because many people who access an adoption record don’t need to know details. Here’s how accessing your Ohio adoption record works with each type of information.

Non-identifying Information in Ohio Adoption Record

Non-identifying information is general information about the birth parents such as eye and hair color, race, religion, educational level and medical history. Once the baby is born, the date and place of birth are included as non-identifying information. This type of information may be more easily accessible, depending on your situation.

Identifying Information in Ohio Adoption Record

Identifying information is specific information about a person that can positively identify them. The identifying information of the birth parents in the adoption record includes names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and home and work addresses. This type of information may be more difficult to access, depending on the specific details of your adoption records.

Reasons to Search for Ohio Adoption Records

There are a few common reasons that searches are conducted for Ohio adoption records. Unofficial reasons include researchers conducting adoption studies, for example. Official reasons include government specialists counting for the state and federal census. Personal reasons for searching Ohio adoption records can include the following:

  • An adoptee searching for identifying information of their birth parents.

  • Birth parents searching for identifying information for a child they placed for adoption.

  • Biological siblings searching for identifying information for a brother or sister that was placed for adoption.

  • An adoptee’s children and grandchildren searching for identifying information about their biological heritage.

  • Relatives of a deceased adoptee searching for identifying information for biological family.

For adoptees and birth parents, searching for adoption records in Ohio can provide closure, fulfillment and a sense of identity that could change their lives.

We would like to help you understand your rights to your adoption record in Ohio. If you were adopted through American Adoptions, you can call us with questions about your Ohio adoption record at any time, 1-800-ADOPTION.

What are the Ohio Adoption Record Laws?

Adoption record laws in Ohio include information about how adoption records should be stored and who can access those stored records. In Ohio, adoption records are maintained by the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics after adoption finalization. Your adoption records are kept in Ohio if you were born in Ohio, whether you remain in Ohio or you were adopted by a family who lives in another state.

If you need a copy of an Ohio adoption record, you must submit a completed application form with payment to the department for review and verification. However, this does not guarantee you a copy of the adoption record. The release of copies of the adoption record in Ohio is at the discretion of the department. A decision is made based on your relationship to the adoptee, purpose for the request and type of information requested (identifying or non-identifying).

Let’s take a look at the Ohio adoption record regulations in further detail.

Who Can Access Ohio Adoption Records?

At the time of the adoption finalization, the adoptive parents should receive a copy of all non-identifying information. If the adoption is open, then identifying information is usually shared, as well.

The following individuals can access non-identifying information in Ohio adoption records:

  • An adoptee who is 18 or older can access their adoption record.

  • The adoptive parents of an adoptee who is under the age of 18.

  • A birth family member or an adoptive family member of a deceased adoptee.

  • The birth parents of an adoptee who is 18 or older.

  • The birth siblings of an adoptee who is 18 or older (the siblings must also be 18 or older to request access).

For identifying information in an Ohio adoption record, the adoptee, birth parents and adoptive parents must each sign a consent form. They can select whether they want to approve or deny release of their identifying information in the adoption file. If a consent form has not been signed, then identifying information is redacted for each individual who has not signed a consent form. These completed consent forms are maintained by Ohio’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.

The only individuals allowed access to identifying information in an Ohio adoption record, when consent has been granted, are:

  • An adoptee who is 21 or older.

  • The adoptive parents of an adoptee who is between the ages of 18 and 21.

  • The birth parents or adult birth siblings.

Are Ohio Adoption Records Public?

Yes, certain portions of non-identifying information in adoption records in Ohio are public records. Public records are any documents created by the local and federal government and are not considered confidential. All others wanting access to Ohio adoption records must submit an application to the department for approval to receive access to non-identifying information.

Can Ohio Adoption Records be Unsealed?

Yes, identifying information is sealed in an adoption record, but certain individuals can unseal adoption records in Ohio. Sealed adoption records, such as identifying information, are confidential. For those who need to know your adoption information, adoption records in Ohio are unsealed and made available to them. These individuals include adoption attorneys, state children’s services agencies and licensed adoption agencies.

An Important Note About Original Birth Certificates in Ohio

“Are the birth parents’ and adoptive parents’ names on the birth certificate?”

Yes, but their names are not listed together on one birth certificate. An adoptee usually has two birth certificates.

An original birth certificate contains the identifying information of the birth parents. For adoption records in Ohio in closed adoptions, after the baby is born, the original birth certificate is sealed and kept confidential by the department. In the case of sealed original birth certificates, access is restricted. The amended birth certificate that is included in the identifying information section of the adoption record contains the adoptive parents’ identifying information.

For adoption records in Ohio, a copy of the original birth certificate will not be released unless the adoptee requests that it be released. However, the birth parents can file a nondisclosure document, known as an affidavit, to completely restrict the release of the original birth certificate — even to the adoptee.

Birth certificates for adoption in Ohio can be confusing, but we can help you. If you were adopted in Ohio through American Adoptions, you can call us at 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to ask us about your Ohio birth certificates.

How to Start a Search for Ohio Adoption Records

This is a general, basic guide on how to begin a search for adoption records in Ohio. Whether you are an adoptee, adoptive parent or biological family member, your process for finding adoption records in Ohio may be different.

You can follow these three steps to begin your adoption record search in Ohio:

Step 1: Contact the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Step 2: Complete the Application for Adoption File form and submit it to your local Ohio Department of Health (through mail or in-person). There is a required $20 fee for Ohio Application Adoption File request processing.

Step 3:  Allow one month for the application to be processed and verified, and the copy of adoption records in Ohio will be sent to you (if you are approved) via mail only.

If you were adopted in Ohio through American Adoptions, we can help you through the Ohio adoption record search. You can call us at 1-800-ADOPTION at any time.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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