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OHIO -- Adoption Records Access


Introduction

In Ohio, the process for and level of access to adoption records is contingent upon the date of the adoption. This FAQ is designed to help you understand what type of information is available and how to obtain it and has corresponding Ohio Revised Code citations. For more information on any of the following, access the Ohio Department of Health's website at the following web link: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/vitalstatistics/legalinfo/adoption.aspx


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can an original birth record/adoption file be unsealed?

A: Yes. The issuance of a final adoption decree seals all records pertaining to an adoption and thus they are not open for public viewing. However, there are several ways in which a person can access this sealed information depending on the year the adoption was finalized.

Q: Who can access adoption records?

A: This will vary depending on the year the adoption was finalized. Generally, an adoptee who has reached the age of majority, adoptive parents if the child is a minor, a guardian, biological siblings, and birth parents.

Q: My adoption was finalized prior to January 1, 1964, how can I access my adoption records?

A: These records are open and can be obtained by doing one or both of the following: submit a written request to the Department of Health to obtain a copy of the contents of the adopted person's file and/or file a petition in probate court, in the county where the adoption occurred or the county where the adopted person lives, for a release of information regarding the adopted person's name by birth and the identity of the adopted person's biological parent(s) and biological sibling(s). (§3107.38)

Note: The request must contain the adopted person's address; a notarized affidavit (form available on the Department's website); any fee requirement (generally $20.00); and must be accompanied by two forms of identification which can include: motor vehicle driver's license, commercial driver's license, social security card, credit card, military identification card, employee identification card, or marriage application.

Q: My adoption was finalized between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996, how can I access my adoption records?

A: These records are sealed and can only be opened by a court order. An adopted person older than twenty-one (21), must petition the probate court that granted the adoption (or the probate court of the county where they reside) to request Vital Statistics search for releases received from the biological parent(s). A biological parent or sibling can file an authorization form granting the court permission to release identifying information to the adoptee. The court can only release identifying information if an authorization form has been filed with the Ohio Department of Health, Vital Statistics. A biological parent or sibling may withdraw their authorization at any time by completing a withdrawal form. (§3107.41)

Q: My adoption was finalized after September 18, 1996, how can I access my adoption records?

A: Records are open to an adult adoptee over 21 or to the adoptive parent if the adoptee is at least 18, but still under 21. An adoptee may request identifiable birth information from the Department of Health. The request must be accompanied with two forms of identification. Birth information can only be disclosed if the biological parent(s) have filed an authorization of release form or disclosure statement. (§3107.47)

Q: What type of information is released?

A: Non-identifying information is general information about the adoptee and the birth parents that does not allow anyone viewing the information to specifically identify one another. This information is usually provided to the adoptive parents prior to finalization. Non-identifying information may include: date and place of the adopted person's birth, age of the birth parents and general physical description (i.e. eye and hair color), race, ethnicity, religion and medical history of the birth parents, educational level of the birth parents at time of the adoption, any reasons for placing the child for adoption, and the existence of any biological siblings.

Identifying information is any information that might lead to a positive identification of any of the parties to an adoption or any birth relatives. Identifiable information means any of the following with regard to a person: first name, last name, maiden name, alias, social security number, address, telephone number, place of employment, and original birth certificate.

Q: How can I file an authorization of release form?

A: An authorization of release form or disclosure statement can be filed at any time with the Ohio Department of Health. This form gives the court and the Department permission to release identifying information to the adoptee, adoptive parent or birth parent. The authorization form can be filed by a birth parent, sibling or adopted person. This authorization can be withdrawn at any time by filing a withdrawal or denial form with the Department. The forms are available on their website at: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/vitalstatistics/legalinfo/adoption.aspx

Q: Does Ohio have a mutual consent registry?

A: Yes. Ohio's mutual consent registry allows adopted persons and their birth families to register on a state-based search engine that seeks to unite adopted persons with their birth parents and/or siblings. The registry is designed for persons adopted after January 1, 1964.

Q: How can I contact the Ohio Department of Health?

A: For more information on obtaining access to adoption records or Ohio's Registry contact:

Ohio Department of Health
Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 118
Columbus, Ohio 43216-0118
Telephone: (614) 466-4784
http://www.odh.ohio.gov/vitalstatistics/legalinfo/adoption.aspx



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