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Private Adoption

  • Adoption of a child (or adult) who isn't in the custody of the county or state
  • A direct, consensual arrangement between the adoptive and birth parents
  • Various individuals may help to arrange adoption, but only an attorney or agency can formalize it
  • Each party will need to retain their own representation, via a private adoption lawyer or agency

Families come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes the best parents aren’t linked by genetics, but by love. Step parents, grandparents, and other family members might want to take on the responsibility of caring for a child’s welfare, but they could need legal support. At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC our team is prepared to help. We’re family lawyers dedicated to helping children. Assisting in private adoptions is one key way we help to ensure that children have loving, caring adults in their lives.

Of course no two adoption cases are the same––they differ from one family to another, and between states and counties. Because of the countless legal considerations involved with adoption, it’s always a good idea to have a private adoption lawyer on your team.

Step-parent adoptions are some of the most common forms of private adoptions. Just as it sounds, step-parent adoption takes place when an individual adopts their spouse’s child(ren). Adopting a stepchild is a serious commitment, but really it’s often just putting a legal stamp on what you’ve already been doing for years now: caring for this child as your own. The legal relationship that comes out of private adoption gives you and your child all the rights and responsibilities of a natural family, including the ability to leave an inheritance and the duty to support the child in the event of a divorce. 

Kinship adoptions or intrafamily adoptions are much the same and refer to an arrangement in which a relative who has a relationship or bond with the child is already their caregiver and opts to adopt. He or she would assume full-time care if a child’s parents cannot or will not care for them. Typical candidates are grandparents, aunts, and uncles. This is also a permanent arrangement that affords the adopted child every right that would naturally be given to a biological child.

Adult adoptions are another option in Ohio. Generally an adult adoption involves adults who could be relatives to the adopting party and who deal with physical or developmental disabilities that do not allow them to care for themselves. Caregivers who have a bond with the individual may choose to adopt.

What to Expect

The first step in the adoption process is to file a Petition for Adoption in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where either you, the natural parent, or their child lives. This legal document will include information about you and your stepchild or grandchild and involves a submission fee. Exact information required can vary between counties, but it could include inquiries into employment, health, family status, or a criminal background check, among other data.

The natural parent who would be giving up their parental rights after adoption will also need to be served with a copy of the petition and kept informed about any related court hearings. Consent for the adoption must be received from both natural parents, unless the parent in question has willfully neglected to communicate with or support their child financially during the prior year. In that case they forfeit their rights and their consent is not necessary. Of course there will always be an exception or circumstance in which blanket rules don’t apply. A family lawyer can ensure that you meet all specifications and comply with all legal requirements.

In Ohio you will also need to submit to a home study as part of step-parent adoption. If you are already living with the child and/or their parent, this is essentially a formality intended only to ensure that your home is a suitable place for the child to live and grow. Other likely requirements are letters of recommendation and a recent medical report. Once all documents are acquired and submitted, a hearing will be held during which a judge will interview all parties involved. 

Based on what they find in that hearing, the judge will then rule on your petition. Once issued, a decree of adoption could be final or it may be initially temporary, then finalized after a six-month period. After the adoption is finalized the child’s legal relationship with their natural parent ends, and a new one begins with you––a new birth certificate is issued and you will be listed as the child’s parent. 

How a Private Adoption Lawyer Can Help

Working with a private adoption lawyer is the best way to streamline step-parent or grandparent adoption. An Ohio family lawyer with experience in private adoption is aware of state- and county-specific laws and requirements and can guide you through the adoption process, fill in any knowledge gaps, and accurately set your expectations.

At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC our ultimate goal is to ensure that children have caring adults in their lives, and sometimes that’s best achieved through private adoptions. We work hard to make the process as smooth as possible, always keeping you informed along the way and respecting the rights of everyone involved. Contact us today to get started on your adoption journey!