Who can adopt? People wonder, are they too young? Too old? Can someone with only a high school education or GED adopt?
There are only two real barriers to a person adopting. One, if the child is over 12 and does not want to be adopted. In Ohio a child over 12 must consent to their own adoption. Two, the prospective adoptive parent, or member of their household, has been convicted of specific crimes. Prohibited convictions range from murder to animal cruelty to sex crimes. With some exceptions, generally speaking, individuals with felony convictions are ineligible to foster or adopt in Ohio.
What kinds of children are available for adoption? All races, ages, genders; the majority are 10 years of age or older. Teens, especially, are looking for adoptive homes.
The Ohio Revised Code 3107.03 is titled Who may adopt. It states the following people are eligible to adopt:
• “A husband and wife together, at least one of whom is an adult.” One of the couple has to be at least 21 years of age.
• “An unmarried adult”. A single person — male or female can adopt.
• “The unmarried minor parent of the person to be adopted”. No one I know in the legal profession has had a case like this; therefore I cannot explain this section.
“A married adult without the other spouse joining as a petitioner if any of the following apply:
(1) The other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and supports the adoption;
(2) The petitioner and the other spouse are separated under section 3103.06 or 3105.17 of the Revised Code;
(3) The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to support the adoption is found by the court to be by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult to obtain either the support or refusal of the other spouse.
Subsection one addresses the most common adoption, a stepparent adoption. Subsection two 3103.06 Contracts affecting marriage, addresses the fact that “A husband and wife cannot, by any contract with each other, alter their legal relations, except that they may agree to an immediate separation and make provisions for the support of either of them and their children during the separation” means that a couple cannot just decide between themselves that they end their marriage; there has to be a court action. Section 3105.17 Complaint for divorce or legal separation, addresses those couples who are already petitioning for divorce or legal separation. Either party could still go forward with an adoption as a single parent without the other party agreeing or consenting,
Subsection three covers those individuals who in rare instances are legally married, but don’t know the whereabouts of their spouse. An example would be the case of a “missing and presumed dead” individual. The spouse, although not legally a widowed person, could go forward with an adoption. Another case would be if an individual was in a prolonged coma/incapacitated state, their spouse could go forward with an adoption.
In a nutshell, any adult person of any race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic or cultural heritage can adopt. They may adopt regardless of age, income, type of home or education.
To start the adoption process, contact your county child protective services or a private, licensed, adoption agency. These agencies will be more than happy to guide you through the adoption process.
Mrs. Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be contacted at BeverlyVT@aol.com