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OHIO

Adoption Law

 

 

Ohio has implemented nearly every confusing tool of OBC access that legislators can muster: disclosure vetoes, redaction, tiered access, and a donut hole that carves out exceptions for access based on date of adoption. While Ohio law has settled down a bit after legislative reforms in 2013, significant legal restrictions remain, including redaction and disclosure vetoes.

 

Here’s how it all currently breaks down, depending on the date of adoption:

  • Adoptions prior to 1964: you have unrestricted access to your “adoption file,” which typically contains the original birth record;

  • Adoptions from January 1, 1964, through September 17, 1996: must be at least 18 years of age to request the adoption file. Identifying information may be redacted if a birth parent has previously filed a “name redaction request.” Birth parents could file name redaction requests only until March 19, 2015, and previously filed redaction requests may be withdrawn at anytime.

  • Adoptions after September 17, 1996: you must be least 21 years of age if you make the request or 18-20 years of age if your adoptive parent makes the request. Your adoption file will be released unless one or both birth parents have filed a “denial of release form.” Identifying information is redacted for a parent if only one of the two birth parents listed has filed a denial of release form.

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Ohio also allows birth parents to file true contact preference forms to indicate preference for contact. The contact preference form does not operate as a means to deny access to the adoption file.

 

 

Relevant Ohio Law: Original Birth Record Access

Upon receipt of the items sent by a probate court pursuant to section 3107.19 of the Revised Code concerning the adoption of a child born in this state whose adoption was decreed on or after January 1, 1964, the department of health shall issue, unless otherwise requested by the adoptive parents, a new birth record using the child’s adopted name and the names of and data concerning the adoptive parents. The new birth record shall have the same overall appearance as the record that would have been issued under section 3705.09 of the Revised Code if the adopted child had been born to the adoptive parents. Where handwriting is required to effect that appearance, the department shall supply the handwriting


3705.12 Issuance of new or foreign birth record after adoption—access to original record, adoption file.

Upon the issuance of the new birth record, the original birth record shall cease to be a public record. The index references to the original birth record, including references that were not a public record under this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment, are a public record under section 149.43 of the Revised Code. The department shall place the original birth record and the items sent by the probate court pursuant to section 3107.19 of the Revised Code in an adoption file and seal the file. The contents of the adoption file are not a public record and shall be available only in accordance with section 3705.126 of the Revised Code. For the purposes of sections 149.43 and 1347.08 of the Revised Code, the contents of the adoption file include any contact preference form, biological parent’s name redaction request form, or social and medical history accepted and maintained by the department.

 

The department of health shall promptly forward a copy of the new birth record to the local registrar of vital statistics of the district in which the birth occurred. The local registrar shall file a copy of the new birth record along with and in the same manner as the other copies of birth records in the possession of the local registrar. All copies of the original birth record and all other papers, documents, and index references pertaining to the original birth record in the possession of the local registrar or the probate court shall be destroyed, except that the probate court shall retain permanently in the file of the adoption proceedings information that is necessary to enable the court to identify both the child’s original birth record and the child’s new birth record.

 

3705.126 Confidentiality
The department of health shall neither open an adoption file nor make its contents available except as follows:

(A) The department shall inspect the file to determine the court involved for the purpose of division (D) of section 3107.09 or section 3107.091 or 3107.171 of the Revised Code.

 

(B) The department shall make the file’s contents available to an adopted person or lineal descendant of an adopted person in accordance with section 3107.38 of the Revised Code.

 

(C) The department shall open the file to transfer releases to the file in accordance with section 3107.381 of the Revised Code.

 

(D) The department shall open the file to file a contact preference form from a biological parent pursuant to section 3107.39 of the Revised Code and remove any previously filed contact preference form from the biological parent.

 

(E) The department shall open the file to file a biological parent’s name redaction request form pursuant to division (C) of section 3107.391 of the Revised Code or to remove and destroy the form pursuant to division (D) of that section.

 

(F) The department shall open the file to file a denial of release form under division (A) of section 3107.46 of the Revised Code or an authorization of release form under division (B) of that section.

 

(G) The department shall make the file’s contents available to an adopted person or adoptive parent in accordance with section 3107.47 of the Revised Code.

 

(H) The department shall open the file to file a request from an adopted person under division (A) of section 3107.48 of the Revised Code or to remove and destroy the request pursuant to division (B) of that section.

 

(I) The department shall inspect the file to assist a birth parent or birth sibling in finding the adopted person’s name by adoption in accordance with section 3107.49 of the Revised Code.

 

(J) The court that decreed the adoption may order that the contents be made open for inspection or available for copying.

 

3705.123 Records for adoptions decreed before 1/1/1964
No original birth record of any person whose birth occurred in this state and whose adoption was decreed before January 1, 1964, no birth record in the adopted name of any person whose birth occurred in this state and whose adoption was decreed before January 1, 1964, and no papers or documents that pertain to either such type of birth record or to the adoption of any such person shall be sealed on or after March 19, 1985. The department of health shall maintain in an adoption file all such records, papers, and documents that are in the possession of the department and were sealed pursuant to division (C) or (D) of section 3705.12 of the Revised Code as it existed before March 19, 1985, or that were mistakenly or otherwise sealed. The contents of the adoption file are not a public record and shall be made available only in accordance with section 3705.126 of the Revised Code.

 

3107.38 Right of adopted persons or lineal descendants
(A) As used in sections 3107.38 to 3107.394 of the Revised Code:

(1) “Adopted person” means a person who was adopted but is not an adopted person as defined in section 3107.45 of the Revised Code.

(2) “Adoption file” means a file maintained by the department of health under sections 3705.12 to 3705.124 of the Revised Code.

(3) “Biological parent” means a parent, by birth, of a person who is, or is to become, an adopted person.

(4) “Biological parent’s name redaction request form” means the form prescribed under section 3107.391 of the Revised Code.

(5) “Biological sibling” means a sibling, by birth, of a person who is, or is to become, an adopted person.

(6) “Contact preference form” means the form prescribed under section 3107.39 of the Revised Code.

(7) “File of releases” means the filing system for releases that former section 3107.40 of the Revised Code, as repealed by Sub. S.B. 23 of the 130th general assembly, required the department of health to maintain.

(8) “Items of identification” include a motor vehicle driver’s or commercial driver’s license, an identification card issued under sections 4507.50 to 4507.52 of the Revised Code, a marriage application, a social security card, a credit card, a military identification card, or an employee identification card.

(9) “Lineal descendant of an adopted person” means a person who by reason of blood or adoption is a lineal descendant of an adopted person.

(10) “Offspring” means a child, by birth, of a person.

(11) “Release” means both of the following:

(a) A release filed by a biological parent or biological sibling pursuant to former section 3107.40 of the Revised Code, as repealed by Sub. S.B. 23 of the 130th general assembly, that authorized the release of identifying information to the biological parent’s offspring or the release of specified information to the biological sibling’s adopted sibling pursuant to former section 3107.41 of the Revised Code, as repealed by Sub. S.B. 23 of the 130th general assembly;

(b) A withdrawal of release filed by a biological parent or biological sibling pursuant to former section 3107.40 of the Revised Code, as repealed by Sub. S.B. 23 of the 130th general assembly.

 

(B) Subject to division (C) of this section, an adopted person or lineal descendant of an adopted person may submit a written request to the department of health for the department to provide the adopted person or lineal descendant of an adopted person with a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file. The request shall provide the requester’s address and notarized signature and be accompanied by two items of identification of the requester. If the requester is a lineal descendant of an adopted person, the request shall also provide notarized documentation evidencing the requester’s relationship to the adopted person. On receipt of a request and payment of the fee required by section 3705.241 of the Revised Code , the department shall mail to the requester, at the address provided in the request, a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file if the department has an adoption file, including all releases transferred to the adoption file pursuant to section 3107.381 of the Revised Code, for the adopted person. If the adoption file includes a biological parent’s name redaction request form from a biological parent, the department shall redact the biological parent’s name from the copy of the contents of the adoption file that is mailed to the requester. If the department removes the biological parent’s name redaction request form from the adoption file pursuant to division (D) of section 3107.391 of the Revised Code after the department mails the copy of the contents of the adoption file to the requester, the department shall mail to the requester another copy of the contents with the biological parent’s name included.

 

(C) An adopted person or lineal descendant of an adopted person may not submit a request under this section until the adopted person or lineal descendant is at least eighteen years of age.

 

3107.391. Biological parent’s name redaction request form
(A) The department of job and family services shall prescribe a biological parent’s name redaction request form. The form shall include all of the following:

(1) Information about the procedures and requirements for a biological parent to do either of the following:

(a) Have the form placed in the adoption file of the biological parent’s offspring so that the biological parent’s name is redacted from a copy of the contents of the adoption file that a person receives under section 3107.38 of the Revised Code;

(b) Have the form removed from the adoption file if the biological parent later decides to permit the biological parent’s name to be included in a copy of the contents of the adoption file that a person receives under section 3107.38 of the Revised Code.

 

(2) Provisions necessary for the department of health to be able to identify the adoption file of the adopted person to whom the form pertains;

 

(3) A place for the biological parent to attest that the biological parent is the biological parent of the adopted person to whom the form pertains.

 

(B) The department of job and family services shall make the biological parent’s name redaction request form available to the department of health.

 

(C)

(1) Until [March 19, 2015], the department of health shall make a biological parent’s name redaction request form available to a biological parent on request. The department may accept a completed biological parent’s name redaction request form only if all of the following apply:

(a) The form is submitted to the department not later than one year after the effective date of this section.

(b) The form has been notarized.

(c) The biological parent provides the department two items of identification of the biological parent.

(d) If a social and medical history for the biological parent was not previously prepared or such a history was prepared but should be corrected or expanded, the biological parent does the following as appropriate:

(i) Completes a social and medical history form in accordance with section 3107.091 or 3107.393 of the Revised Code;

(ii) Corrects or expands the biological parent’s social and medical history in accordance with division (D) of section 3107.09 of the Revised Code.

(e) The department is satisfied that the form has been substantially completed.

 

(2) If the department determines that it may accept the biological parent’s name redaction request form, it shall accept the form. As soon as the department identifies the adoption file of the adopted person to whom the form pertains, it shall place the form in that file.

 

 (D)

(1) A biological parent who has a biological parent’s name redaction request form accepted under division (C) of this section may request at any time that the department remove the form from the adoption file of the adopted person to whom the form pertains. The department shall remove the form from the adoption file if the biological parent provides the department all of the following:

(a) Two items of identification of the biological parent;

(b) Information the department needs to be able to identify the adoption file of the adopted person to whom the form pertains;

(c) A notarized attestation that the biological parent is the biological parent of the adopted person to whom the form pertains.

(2) When the department removes a biological parent’s name redaction request form from an adoption file under division (D)(1) of this section, the department shall destroy the form.

 

3107.45. Access to adoption records additional definitions
As used in sections 3107.45 to 3107.53 of the Revised Code:

(A) “Adopted person” means a person who, as a minor, was adopted and who, on or after September 18, 1996, became available or potentially available for adoption. For the purpose of this division, a person was available or potentially available for adoption on or after September 18, 1996, if, on or after that date, either of the following occurred:

(1) At least one of the person’s birth parents executed consent to the person’s adoption.

(2) A probate court entered a finding that the consent of at least one of the person’s birth parents to the person’s adoption was not needed as determined pursuant to section 3107.07 of the Revised Code.

 

(B) “Adoption file” means the file maintained by the department of health under sections 3705.12 to 3705.124 of the Revised Code.

 

(C) “Adoptive parent” means a person who adopted an adopted person.

 

(D) “Authorization of release form” means the form prescribed under division (A)(2) of section 3107.50 of the Revised Code.

 

(E) “Birth parent” means the biological parent of an adopted person.

 

(F) “Birth sibling” means a biological sibling of an adopted person.

 

(G) “Denial of release form” means either of the following:

(1) The component of the form prescribed under division (A)(1)(b) of section 3107.083 if the birth parent checked the “no” space provided on that component.

(2) The form prescribed under division (A)(1) of section 3107.50 of the Revised Code.

 

(H) “Effective denial of release form” means a denial of release form that has not been rescinded by an authorization of release form pursuant to division (B) of section 3107.46 of the Revised Code.

 

(I) “Final decree of adoption” includes an interlocutory order of adoption that has become final.

 

(J) “Identifying information” has the same meaning as in section 3107.01 of the Revised Code.

 

(K) “Items of identification” include a motor vehicle driver’s or commercial driver’s license, an identification card issued under sections 4507.50 to 4507.52 of the Revised Code, a marriage application, a social security card, a credit card, a military identification card, or an employee identification card.

 

3107.47. Adult adoptee or adoptive parent may request copy of file:

(A) An adopted person age twenty-one or older, or an adoptive parent of an adopted person at least age eighteen but under age twenty-one, may submit a request to the department of health for a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file. If the adopted person includes with the request the adopted person’s notarized signature and copies of two items of identification, or the adoptive parent includes with the request the adoptive parent’s notarized signature and copies of two items of identification, the department shall do the following

(1) If there is not an effective denial of release form for either birth parent in the adopted person’s adoption file and the fee required by section 3705.241 of the Revised Code is paid, provide the adopted person or adoptive parent a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file;

 

(2) If there is an effective denial of release form for each birth parent in the adopted person’s adoption file, refuse to provide the adopted person or adoptive parent a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file;

 

(3) If there is an effective denial of release form for only one of the birth parents in the adopted person’s adoption file and the fee required by section 3705.241 of the Revised Code is paid, provide the adopted person or adoptive parent a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file with all identifying information about the birth parent for whom there is an effective denial of release form deleted.

 

(B) If an adopted person or adoptive parent is denied a copy of the contents of the adopted person’s adoption file or receives a copy of the contents with identifying information about one of the birth parents deleted, the department of health shall inform the adopted person or adoptive parent that it will notify the adopted person or adoptive parent if the department subsequently receives an authorization of release form from one or both birth parents and the adopted person or adoptive parent submits to the department a request to be notified. An adopted person or adoptive parent who submits a request to be notified shall provide the department the adopted person’s or adoptive parent’s address and notify the department of any change of address. An adopted person or adoptive parent who subsequently decides not to be notified may submit a statement with the department for the department not to notify the adopted person or adoptive parent.

The department shall notify the adopted person or adoptive parent if the department receives an authorization of release form from one or both birth parents and the adopted person or adoptive parent submitted a request to be notified and has not subsequently submitted a statement not to be notified. If the adopted person or adoptive parent contacts the department after being notified and indicates a desire to receive the information the department may provide, the department shall provide the adopted person or adoptive parent information in accordance with division (A) of this section.

3107.50. Forms for denial or authorization of release
(A) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, the department of health shall prescribe the following forms:

(1) A denial of release form to be used by a birth parent under division (A) of section 3107.46 of the Revised Code. The form shall explain that the birth parent may rescind the denial of release at any time by signing, dating, and having filed with the department of health an authorization of release form pursuant to division (B) of section 3107.46 of the Revised Code.

(2) An authorization of release form to be used by a birth parent under division (B) of section 3107.46 of the Revised Code. The form shall state that the birth parent may rescind the authorization of release at any time by signing, dating, and having filed with the department of health a denial of release form pursuant to division (A) of that section.

(B) On request of a birth parent, the department shall provide a copy of a denial of release form or authorization of release form to the birth parent.

Relevant Ohio Law: Court Records

3107.17 Closed hearing – confidentiality – records
(A) All hearings held under sections 3107.01 to 3107.19 of the Revised Code shall be held in closed court without the admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, the witnesses of the parties, counsel, persons who have not previously consented to an adoption but who are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies present to perform their official duties.

(B)

(1) Except as provided in divisions (B)(2) and (D) of this section, sections 3107.38 and 3107.381, and sections 3107.60 to 3107.68 of the Revised Code, no person or governmental entity shall knowingly reveal any information contained in a paper, book, or record pertaining to an adoption that is part of the permanent record of a court or maintained by the department of job and family services, an agency, or attorney without the consent of a court.

(2) An agency or attorney may examine the agency’s or attorney’s own papers, books, and records pertaining to an adoption without a court’s consent for official administrative purposes. The department of job and family services may examine its own papers, books, and records pertaining to an adoption, or such papers, books, and records of an agency, without a court’s consent for official administrative, certification, and eligibility determination purposes.

 

(C) The petition, the interlocutory order, the final decree of adoption, and other adoption proceedings shall be recorded in a book kept for such purposes and shall be separately indexed. The book shall be a part of the records of the court, and all consents, affidavits, and other papers shall be properly filed.

(D) All forms that pertain to the social or medical histories of the biological parents of an adopted person and that were completed pursuant to section 3107.09 , 3107.091, or 3107.393 of the Revised Code shall be filed only in the permanent record kept by the court. During the minority of the adopted person, only the adoptive parents of the person may inspect the forms. When an adopted person reaches majority, only the adopted person may inspect the forms. Under the circumstances described in this division, an adopted person or the adoptive parents are entitled to inspect the forms upon requesting the clerk of the court to produce them.

(E)(1) The department of job and family services shall prescribe a form that permits any person who is authorized by division (D) of this section to inspect forms that pertain to the social or medical histories of the biological parents and that were completed pursuant to section 3107.09 , 3107.091, or 3107.393 of the Revised Code to request notice if any correction or expansion of either such history, made pursuant to division (D) of section 3107.09 of the Revised Code, is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court. The form shall be designed to facilitate the provision of the information and statements described in division (E)(3) of this section. The department shall provide copies of the form to each court. A court shall provide a copy of the request form to each adoptive parent when a final decree of adoption is entered and shall explain to each adoptive parent at that time that an adoptive parent who completes and files the form will be notified of any correction or expansion of either the social or medical history of the biological parents of the adopted person made during the minority of the adopted person that is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court, and that, during the adopted person’s minority, the adopted person may inspect the forms that pertain to those histories. Upon request, the court also shall provide a copy of the request form to any adoptive parent during the minority of the adopted person and to an adopted person who has reached the age of majority.

(2) Any person who is authorized to inspect forms pursuant to division (D) of this section who wishes to be notified of corrections or expansions pursuant to division (D) of section 3107.09 of the Revised Code that are made a part of the permanent record kept by the court shall file with the court, on a copy of the form prescribed by the department of job and family services pursuant to division (E)(1) of this section, a request for such notification that contains the information and statements required by division (E)(3) of this section. A request may be filed at any time if the person who files the request is authorized at that time to inspect forms that pertain to the social or medical histories.

 

(3) A request for notification as described in division (E)(2) of this section shall contain all of the following information:

(a) The adopted person’s name and mailing address at that time;

(b) The name of each adoptive parent, and if the adoptive person is a minor at the time of the filing of the request, the mailing address of each adoptive parent at that time;

(c) The adopted person’s date of birth;

(d) The date of entry of the final decree of adoption;

(e) A statement requesting the court to notify the person who files the request, at the address provided in the request, if any correction or expansion of either the social or medical history of the biological parents is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court;

(f) A statement that the person who files the request is authorized, at the time of the filing, to inspect the forms that pertain to the social and medical histories of the biological parents;

(g) The signature of the person who files the request.

(4) Upon the filing of a request for notification in accordance with division (E)(2) of this section, the clerk of the court in which it is filed immediately shall insert the request in the permanent record of the case. A person who has filed the request and who wishes to update it with respect to a new mailing address may inform the court in writing of the new address. Upon its receipt, the court promptly shall insert the new address into the permanent record by attaching it to the request. Thereafter, any notification described in this division shall be sent to the new address.

 

(5) Whenever a social or medical history of a biological parent is corrected or expanded and the correction or expansion is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court, the court shall ascertain whether a request for notification has been filed in accordance with division (E)(2) of this section. If such a request has been filed, the court shall determine whether, at that time, the person who filed the request is authorized, under division (D) of this section, to inspect the forms that pertain to the social or medical history of the biological parents. If the court determines that the person who filed the request is so authorized, it immediately shall notify the person that the social or medical history has been corrected or expanded, that it has been made a part of the permanent record kept by the court, and that the forms that pertain to the records may be inspected in accordance with division (D) of this section.

 

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