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Changes in Ohio Adoption Law To Serve Adoptee’s Interest

In December 2013, the Ohio legislature made important and long-awaited changes to Ohio’s adoption laws to allow all adoptees – regardless of birth year – easier access to their adoption file and birth certificate. Under prior law, more than 400,000 adoptees born between 1964 and 1996 were unable to access this information.

Beginning in March 2015, Ohio’s adoption laws will allow a past, present, and future adopted person easier access to her adoption record, including her birth parents’ social and medical history records. The law will also allow the Ohio Department of Health to release the county in which the final decree of adoption was ordered for the purpose of obtaining the adoptees birth parents’ location. Additionally, an adopted person will be able to ask her birth parents questions through the Ohio Department of Health.

The ability to access this information will serve an adoptee’s interests by providing her with an avenue to find her biological parents if she would like. However, identifying information of the biological parents is kept anonymous if requested by the parents. These changes could save adoptees from serious health problems by allowing adoptees access to past records, especially pertinent medical information relating to certain health conditions that are better treated early in life. This may even work the opposite way: say an adoptee inadvertently finds out about some health condition she has while in the midst of testing for other problems, but has no side effects from such condition because side effects generally do not manifest until later in life, but the condition is hereditary. In this instance, an adoptee will be able to contact the Ohio Department of Health and inform them of the need to contact her birth mother to inform her of this discovery.

Beginning in March 2015, adoptees can make these requests to the Ohio Department of Health’s Division of Vital Statistics for her adoption records and/or to contact her birth parents.

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