Family Law : Finding a Birth Parent

From the Ohio State Bar Association

What is an adoptive family allowed to know about the birth parents?

In Ohio, the adoptive family may obtain any "non-identifying" social or medical history including biographical information about both the child's parents. (Non-identifying information might include a first name and some background or medical details, but would not include a last name, address, phone number, or Social Security number.)

"Identifying" information about the birth parents can be provided to the adoptive parents only if agreed upon between the parties.

Such information can be provided to the adoptive parents by the birth parents themselves, or by the agency or attorney handling the adoption.

Can a birth parent ask that the adoptive files be sealed?

Adoption records are automatically sealed until the adopted child reaches the age of 21. Birth parents can refuse to allow adoption information to be released, or they can file a Release of Information allowing the records to be opened when the child reaches adulthood.

If the adopted child is between 18 and 21 years of age, the information is released, upon request, to the adoptive parent. If the adopted child is 21 years of age or older, the information is released to the adopted child directly. It is always possible that new legislation might change the age restriction, so birth parents should keep abreast of the current laws.

If an adopted child decides, at some point, to search for the birth parent, will the adoption agency or attorney contact the birth parent before the child does?

This can be done if the birth parent wishes. The birth parent should make this wish known to the adoption agency or attorney.

Will the adopted child be able to find the birth parent if he/she decides to search?

Usually, the child will only be able to find a birth parent who wants to be found. Under current Ohio law, birth parents must file a Release of Information with the Bureau of Vital Statistics, where they can indicate whether or not they want identifying information to be released.

For more information on domestic violence visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Resource Center.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

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