• PDF

We hope to help you learn more about the state's child adoption laws. We are here to help you too.
There is great variety among states regarding adoption laws, perhaps due to the very personal nature of these laws. As state governments began to take responsibility for regulating family relationships, they tended to develop very unique and regional variations on aspects of family law, including adoption. These variations spawned difficult legal conflicts as modern families grew more mobile, and these conflicts gave rise to the desire to standardize laws among the states into Model Acts and Uniform Laws. Although the need for adoption standardization is strong to date, only eight states have adopted the Uniform Adoption Act.

Any adult may adopt any other person with only minor logical restrictions. A married person must apply for adoption jointly with his or her spouse, for example, and, if the child in certain states is over the age of ten, twelve, or fourteen, the state will require his or her consent as well (except in Louisiana and Wisconsin, where the child's consent is not required). "Objective" standards, like Hawaii's requirement of a "proper" adopter, or Illinois's "reputable" one, and Virginia's "natural" one, also are present, as are specific requirements, for example, that the adopter be at least ten years older than the adoptee. Sometimes the adoptee must be a minor. In Florida homosexuals are, from the face of the statute, specifically excluded from adopting; it is unclear whether terms such as "proper," "reputable," or "natural" refer to a prospective parent's sexual orientation.

In general, family laws are changing as society's value system changes and is scrutinized. In the area of adoption, there is a growing trend to recognize the rights and opinions of children at younger ages, and to recognize the rights of non-traditional individuals. Indeed, same-sex couples are recognized as adoptive parents in a number of states. Also, some states appear headed in the direction of "open" adoption, whereby any individual may adopt any other individual for any reason.

Can a single person adopt a child?
Yes. Many states allow single persons to adopt, although some agencies strongly prefer to place a child with a married couple. Other agencies--particularly those dealing with children who might be hard to place--are willing to place a child with a single person. Single-parent adoptions are usually possible in private adoptions.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Office for Children and Families (ODJFS) has an online website dedicated to finding homes for waiting children through their Adopt Ohio Child Photo Listing. Potential adoptive families can also contact an adoption agency to get information about adoption and to find an infant or a younger child whose birth parents are considering placing their child for adoption.

Some agencies work with birth parents by providing counseling and helping to create an adoption plan for their child. Families who choose an agency will have similar requirements to those who adopt children through ODJFS. The requirements include submitting an application, attending training and having a home study completed by a social worker. Requirements for the home study include personal interviews, description of the home environment, references from friends and family, a health report, a financial report, a criminal record check, letters from employers, autobiographies and additional paperwork that may be requested.

Families who want to adopt a child internationally will have the same requirements plus any additional requirements that the country has for adoptions to take place. International Adoption requires that the adoptive parents submit the I-600A form, if they have not yet identified the child, but they do plan on adopting a foreign born child. This form is called "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition". When the family has found the child and they are close to finalizing the adoption, they will then need to fill out the I-600 form called "Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative".

Embryo Adoption is also an option, but should be considered and looked into thoroughly. There are legal, ethical, psychological and other personal issues that need to be fully researched prior to choosing to adopt a frozen embryo. This type of adoption also requires a home study and additional paperwork to be completed, submitted and signed

Access to Adoption Records
Who May Access Information
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.66; 3107.47; 3107.49

Nonidentifying information is available to:

  • An adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • An adoptive parent of a adoptee who is under age 18
  • An adoptive family member of a deceased adoptee
  • A birth parent of an adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • A birth sibling who is age 18 or older
  • A birth family member if the birth parent is deceased

Identifying information is accessible to:

  • An adoptee who is age 21 or older
  • An adoptive parent of an adoptee who is older than age 18 but younger than 21
  • The birth parent or adult birth sibling

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.66; 3107.60

An adoptee, an adoptive parent, or an adoptive family member may submit a written request to the agency or attorney who arranged the adoption or the probate court that finalized the adoption, for information about the adoptee's birth parent or birth sibling contained in the agency's, attorney's, or court's adoption records that is nonidentifying information.

A birth parent, birth sibling, or birth family member may submit a written request for information about the adoptee or adoptive parent that is nonidentifying information.
The term 'nonidentifying information' means one of the following:

  • In relation to a birth parent, any information that is not identifying information, including all of the following:
    • A birth parent's age at the time the child was adopted
    • The medical and genetic history of the birth parents
    • The age, sex, and medical and genetic history of an adoptee's birth siblings and extended family members
    • A person's heritage and ethnic background, educational level, general physical appearance, religion, occupation, and cause of death
    • Any information that may be included in a social and medical history as specified § 3107.09(B)-(C)
  • In relation to an adoptive parent, any information that is not identifying information, including all of the following:
    • An adoptive parent's age at the time of adoption
    • An adoptive sibling's age at the time of adoption
    • The heritage, ethnic background, religion, educational level, and occupation of the adoptive parent
    • General information known about the well-being of the adoptee before and after the adoption

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.47; 3107.49

The adult adoptee or adoptive parent may submit a request to the Department of Health for a copy of the adoptee's adoption file. If there is not an effective denial of release form for either birth parent on file, the department shall release a copy of the file. If there is an effective denial of release form for each birth parent on file, the request will be denied. If there is an effective denial of release form for only one of the birth parents on file, the department will release the file for that birth parent with all identifying information about the other birth parent deleted.

If an adoptee or adoptive parent is denied a copy of the contents of the adoptee'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 adoptee or adoptive parent that it will notify them if the department later receives an authorization of release form from one or both birth parents.

A birth parent or adult birth sibling may submit a request for assistance in finding an adoptee's name by adoption. The department may release the adoptee's name by adoption if:

  • The adoptee's adoption file contains a request from the adoptee that permits release of the information.
  • The birth parent's parental rights concerning the adoptee were not involuntarily terminated.
  • The request is in writing, with a notarized signature, and includes identification of the birth parent or birth sibling.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Rev. Code § 3705.12

The original birth record shall be placed in an adoption file and sealed. The contents of the file shall not be open to inspection, except as follows:

  • The department shall make the file's contents available to an adoptee or adoptive parent in accordance with § 3107.47.
  • The department shall inspect the file to assist a birth parent or birth sibling in finding the adoptee's name by adoption in accordance with § 3107.49.
  • The court that decreed the adoption may order that the contents be made open for inspection or available for copying.

An adopted adult can receive birth certificate through the Ohio Department of Health, if the adoption was finalized before January 1, 1964.

Unless a copy of the *book document* is requested you will receive only a computer generated abstract of birth and death certificates as well as marriage and divorce documents. These computer generated documents will *not *include all the information that the book document does. The cost, reportedly is the same. Note that this procedure pertains to *all* documents requested for any reason.

Documents in the Adoption Envelope usually include a copy of the OBC and the adoption decree. Complete an Affidavit of Adoption and send in $20. The Affidavit should be sent to:

Ohio Department of Health
Vital Statistics
35 East Chestnut Street
P. O. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098
Attn: Special Registrations

Ohio is home to many blended families, and Ohio law makes the process of step-parent adoption fairly simple. Step-parent adoption in Ohio grants a step-parent the same legal rights as a biological parent.


  • Ohio step-parent adoption creates a legal parental bond between the step-parent and the adopted child. The adoption process also terminates the rights of the biological parent who is not married to the step-parent, according to the Ohio Bar Association website. Step-parent adoption is permanent and remains in effect in the case of divorce, making the step-parent eligible for custody, visitation and child support.


  • To complete a step-parent adoption, a petition must be filed with the court where the parent or child lives. Each county in Ohio has its own petition requirements, including information on the reason for adoption and other basic information, notes the Ohio Bar Association website. In most cases, the parent who is giving up parental rights must sign the petition and consent to the adoption before it is completed.


  • Completing a step-parent adoption allows the child to take a step-parent's last name and results in a new birth certificate being issued with the step-parent listed as the child's natural parent, according to the Ohio Bar Association website. In addition, all rights of the other parent are terminated, including rights to visitation, support and inheritance.

Domestic Adoption Assistance
Do you have a dream of building your own family? Have you explored other possibilities without the results you were hoping to achieve? The option of adoption may be for you.
At the law office of Michael J. Davis, we provide representation to prospective adoptive parents and birth parents in all types of adoptions. Whether you are considering adoption of a child you know, a domestic adoption, or an international adoption, we can help you reach your goal of building a safe, forever family.

We assist with every type of adoption and adoption-related matter in Ohio including:

  • Attorney-arranged adoptions
  • Adoption tax credits
  • Domestic and interstate adoptions and ICPC compliance
  • Private-placement infant adoption
  • Agency-assisted adoptions
  • Adoption of older kids or from foster care
  • Adoption of children with special needs
  • Grandparent, relative and step-parent adoptions
  • International adoptions and Hague Convention cases
  • Adoption for single parents
  • Adoption and guardianship for same-sex couples
  • Adult adoption
  • American citizenship and immigration approval for foreign-born children
  • Dossier preparation and authentication
  • Guardianship and re-adoption
  • Preparation of legal birth certificates
  • Help for Prospective Adoptive Parents Across the U.S. and Worldwide

We will help you submit a "life book" for birth parents to review. Once you have been selected as the person or couple the birth parents wish to place their baby with, we will continue to guide you through the adoption process. Attorney Michael J. Davis will represent you in court to ensure that your adoption is completed in a professional, timely and compassionate manner.

Hasn't enough time passed you by? Isn't it time to begin to realize your dream of a family? Contact our law firm for an informational meeting to review all of the options to grow your family through domestic adoption, or to place a child for adoption. We are excited to help you build your family through adoption.

Questions about Adoption: Birth Mothers' Questions Answered
If you are pregnant and not yet ready for the full responsibilities of motherhood; you may be considering all available options. The following are answers to some commonly asked questions by birthmothers about the adoption process. The laws differ from state to state. Answers are according to Ohio laws.

Q.: I don't have much money. How much would an adoption cost me?
A.: An adoption does not cost you anything. This is true if you are a single birth mother or if you and the birth father are both involved in making a plan of adoption for your child. All the costs associated with the adoption, such as counseling fees, lawyers and agency expenses, hospital and doctor expenses, pre-natal vitamins and, in most cases, maternity clothes, are covered by the adoptive family.

Q.: Might I actually get paid for placing my baby for adoption?
A.: No. It is illegal for a birth mother to get paid for placing a baby for adoption. The birth mother's adoption-related expenses are paid, however.

Q.: I don't want anyone to know that I plan to place my baby for adoption. Can this be kept confidential?
A.: Yes. If you want the fact that you've placed your baby for adoption to be kept confidential, that is up to you, and your decision will be respected.

Q.: Do I have to tell my parents - or anyone else - about my plans to place my baby for adoption?
A.: No. We do encourage girls to tell their parents, because parents may be able to provide good support and advice. If you do not want your parents to be informed, however, that is your choice to make and we will respect your decision.

Q.: What if I'm underage? Can I still decide to place my baby for adoption?
A.: Yes. The law considers you to be an adult if you are making a decision about whether or not to place your baby for adoption, even if you are underage. Therefore, you don't need your parents' permission to place the baby for adoption. We do recommend that you talk with an attorney, even if you're working through an adoption agency. We also recommend that you receive counseling through the process.

Q.: If I talk with an attorney, won't the attorney pressure me and try to talk me into something I do not want to do?
A.: No, not usually. Adoptive families understand the problems they could face, down the road if the birth mother places the baby for adoption in response to pressure, when it is not what she really wants to do. Our law office exists to provide a service, and birth mothers must be given a lot of space to make a free and unpressured decision.

Q.: I haven't spoken with the baby's father for quite a while. Do I have to tell him that I'm pregnant and am considering placing the baby for adoption?
A.: No. You don't have to tell him anything. Ohio law says that, if a boy or man has had sex with a girl or woman, and, as a result, that girl or woman becomes pregnant, she does not have the duty to call him to let him know. He is the one who has the duty to contact the girl or woman to ask how she is doing and to find out if she is pregnant. If he fails to contact her during the period of time that ends one month after the baby's birth, then the birth mother has no obligation to tell him about the child.

Q.: Under what circumstances might the birth father have rights to our child?
A.: The birth father's rights depend upon how he acts during your pregnancy. For example, if he called you following intercourse and said he wanted a relationship, or if, when he found out you were pregnant, he asked you to marry him, or he has given you financial and emotional support throughout your pregnancy; then we need his consent for the adoption. If, on the other hand, he has not called or shown any interest, and it's been a month since the child was born, then the birth father's rights are automatically terminated. However, most of the time, the father's actions fall somewhere between those two scenarios, so determining whether he has rights can be tricky.

Q.: What is the Putative Father Registry, and how might it affect me as the baby's mother?
A.: A "putative father" is a man who may be the father of a child, but who either is not married to the child's mother by the time the child is born or has not established his paternity through a court or administrative proceeding or by completing an acknowledgment of paternity affidavit before an adoption petition for the child is filed. The Registry was established to determine the identity and location of a putative father so that the putative father can be notified before an adoption petition is filed. If a man does not register with the Putative Father Registry before the child's birth or no later than 30 days after the child's birth, the child could be permanently adopted without the putative father's knowledge or consent.

Q.: Can the baby's father keep me from having the baby, even though I want to continue the pregnancy?
A.: No.

Q.: Can the baby's father keep me from placing the baby for adoption?
A.: Yes, but only if he has established the right to be consulted about the adoption. If he has been sufficiently involved and shown enough concern during your pregnancy, then you must have his consent before you can place your baby for adoption. If he refuses to give his consent, he can prevent the adoption from taking place. He cannot, however, eliminate your parental rights. Also, he cannot force you to consent to having him or his parent(s) adopt the baby. If he were to refuse to consent to the adoption, you and he would share parenting time and duties.

Q.: What if his mother wants to keep the baby, but I don't want her to? Can I keep her from getting the baby?
A.: Yes. If you give birth in Ohio, the law considers the baby to be your child. Grandparents do not have rights without a court order. If you do not want his mother to raise the child, she cannot force you to allow her to adopt your baby.

Q.: What if I'm not entirely sure which of two men (or more) the father of my baby is? Who has parental rights in this case?
A.: You do and the birth father, whoever he may be, if he steps forward and emotionally and financially supports you throughout your pregnancy. If neither man steps forward to emotionally and financially support you during your pregnancy, then neither has any rights and you do not need the consent of either to place your baby for adoption. If both men have supported you emotionally and financially, you can have DNA testing done to determine which is the father. Once the baby's parentage is determined, the father can be asked if he will agree to an adoption, or if he wants to take parental responsibility.

Q.: What if the father asked me to marry him, but I told him to get out of my life? Does he have rights anyway?
A.: Yes, he does. If his intentions are to emotionally and financially support you, and he tries to but you prevent him from doing so, then the law considers that he has fulfilled his duty and you would need his consent in order to place your baby for adoption.

Q.: What if I love him and want to keep his baby? Would he have to pay child support?
A.: Most likely he would. If you decide to keep your baby rather than to place the baby for adoption, but he does not want to be involved in rearing the child, you would probably want to file a paternity action with the court. The court would order that he be given a DNA test to confirm that he is the father. If he is proven to be the father, then the court would order him to pay child support.

Q.: Who decides who gets to adopt my baby?
A.: As is generally true in private adoptions, if you place your baby for adoption through my office, you are the one who makes that decision.

Q.: How can I decide who should be the parents of my baby?
A.: Of course this is an important decision, so you should base your choice on factors that matter to you. It is wise to think carefully about what you value. How much do factors such as the adoptive parents' race, lifestyle or economic status matter to you? Are you concerned about the adoptive parents' religious orientation or whether there are other children in the family? To help you decide what you value in adoptive parents, you can review the "life books" prepared by families who wish to adopt a child. These life books give you a picture of what a prospective adoptive family is like. You can contact them by phone and ask them questions. Also, you can meet with them and interview them.

Q.: How can I know if what the prospective adoptive parents write in their life book is true?
A.: Before a baby is placed for adoption with adoptive parents, they must be approved through a home study. In a home study, a social worker visits the family's home, observes and talks with family members, and does a psychological evaluation to determine if the prospective adoptive parents would make good parents. The social worker then writes a report that becomes a legal document. In addition to evaluating the parents' suitability, the social worker must verify marriage certificates, divorce decrees, income tax returns, employer verification, letters of reference, birth certificates, financial statements, income records and medical records. The social worker also must conduct a criminal background check on the prospective parents and make sure that there is no history of child abuse. Any prospective parents who have been approved for adoption will have gone through a thorough screening process before you see their life book.

Q.: If I decide not to meet the prospective adoptive parents before choosing them to adopt my baby, but then change my mind, can I still meet with them?
A.: Yes.

Q.: What if I decide I never want to meet the adoptive parents? Do I have to do that at some point anyway?
A.: No. This is your adoption. You set the rules within the boundaries of the law. You don't have to meet the adoptive parents if you don't want to.

Q.: My friend told me that some adoptions are closed and some are open. What does that mean?
A.: In an "open" adoption, you meet the adoptive parents, you know their first and last names and their contact information (such as a phone number and an address). In a "closed" adoption, you choose not to meet the adoptive parents and receive no information that identifies them. In practice, most adoptions are "semi-open," meaning that you have met the adoptive parents but do not choose to know their last name(s) or have their contact information. Whether an adoption is "closed" or "open" or somewhere in between depends on what is comfortable for both you and the adoptive parents.

Q.: Can I decide to keep the adoption totally closed, so that I don't know who the adoptive parents are and they don't know who I am?
A.: If you feel very strongly that you want your adoption to be totally closed, then you can choose this option. A totally closed adoption is rare these days. Most birth mothers prefer to know something about the adoptive parents, and most adoptive parents wish to know something about the birth mother. However, there are adoptive parents who will consider a totally closed adoption.

Q.: What if I want a very open adoption that includes some sort of ongoing relationship with my child?
A.: Many open adoptions are set up this way. If you decide you would like to have a continuing relationship with your child after the adoption, make sure you select adoptive parents who are receptive to an open adoption and encourage you to maintain some kind of relationship with the child. You should be aware, though, that, when you place your child for adoption, you must terminate your parental rights. This means that, if you do have an ongoing relationship with the child, you will not be considered the child's mother. The adoptive parents have the right and responsibility to make all decisions about the child's welfare just the same as if the child had been born to them.

Q.: What will my baby know about me as he or she grows older?
A.: How much your baby will know about you will depend on what you tell the adoptive parents about yourself, what you ask the adoptive parents to tell the child about you, and what they decide to tell the child about you. The trend in adoptions today is to tell adopted children the truth. Most adoptive parents are open about the adoption and, when appropriate, share information with the child when he or she asks for it.

Q.: What if the adoptive parents agree to an open adoption, but then do not communicate with me after promising they would?
A.: Not every adoptive couple is open to adoption, so if you want an open adoption, you should choose a family that is willing to consider an open adoption. Also, before the baby is born, you should discuss with the adoptive parents what an open adoption means to you and to them. Even if they agree to an open adoption before they adopt the baby, they do not have a legal duty to continue with that agreement. If they start, at some point, to feel uncomfortable with the level of openness in the adoption, they do not have to continue to communicate with you. In my experience, however, every adoptive couple that has agreed tohave some level of openness and communication has abided by that agreement.

Q.: What if, after the baby is born, I suddenly change my mind about going through with the adoption. How long after the baby's birth do I have before I lose my chance to back out?
A.: In Ohio, you must wait 72 hours after the baby's birth before you consent to placing the baby for adoption. You cannot consent to an adoption before 72 hours after birth. If you consent to the adoption after the 72-hour period, and then change your mind, you still can revoke (take back) your consent, but you only have one year after the adoption is finalized to revoke your consent to the adoption. If you decide to revoke your consent, you must hire an attorney and the court will decide your case based on what is in the best interests of the baby. In Ohio, it is very difficult to go through this process, and to convince the court that it is in the baby's best interests for the baby to be taken from the adoptive parents and returned to you. It is very important that, before you make a plan of adoption for your child, you think carefully about your decision and do not consent to the adoption unless you're sure it's what you want.

Q.: Who determines where I give birth?
A.: You do. You can select the hospital where you feel most comfortable.

Q.: What happens once I'm in the hospital?
A.: Within the bounds of hospital regulations, that's up to you. Each person is different and each hospital has different rules and regulations. When you go to the hospital, our office notifies the hospital and the nursing staff about the adoption so there are no awkward moments for you. We try to make you feel as comfortable as we can. Some birth mothers ask to be kept on a separate floor from the baby. Sometimes the birth mother wants to breast feed the baby. Birth mothers are usually released from the hospital within 24 hours if there are no complications. It is completely up to the birth mother to decide if she wants the adoptive family there during the first 72 hours after the baby's birth, whether or not she authorizes the adoptive family to keep the baby's hospital bracelet, or if she just wants to have the baby alone for the three days.

Q.: Will the adoptive parents be with me in the hospital?
A.: That's up to you. You may want the adoptive parents to be at the hospital with you and present throughout the birth process, and many adoptive parents will agree to help and support you through the process. If, however, you prefer those three days to be private for you and your family, you may choose that instead (and many birth mothers do choose this). The adoptive parents will only come to the hospital if you ask them to come. If you don't want them to come, they won't. If you decide you want to see them at the hospital and show them the baby, it is likely they will come.

Q.: Can the adoptive parents be in the delivery room with me?
A.: Yes, if you choose. If you want them to be in the delivery room with you, they can be. If you don't want them to be there, then they will not be.

Q.: Can I see and hold my baby after I give birth?
A.: Of course! You can see and hold and hug and love the baby. This is your child. Many psychologists say that this is good for the baby and for the mother, and it may give you some closure after the birth experience.

Q.: How much time will I have with my baby before I have to place him or her for adoption?
A.: You can have as much time as you want to be with the baby before placing him or her for adoption. The law says the child cannot be placed before 72 hours has passed, but you may want more time than that to make your decision. If you want more time, you can take it. You have as much time as you want and need with the child before placing the child for adoption.

Q.: Can I take the baby home before I place him or her for adoption?
A.: Yes, you can, but this is usually not recommended, and most birth mothers do not take the baby home after birth and during the time before placing the baby for adoption. It is your child, though, and you can make this decision for yourself.

Q.: If I get out of the hospital within 24 hours and decide not to take the baby home with me, what happens to the baby for the rest of the 72 hours until I can give my consent for the adoption?
A.: The attorney and the hospital usually make provisions for the baby to stay in the hospital during that 72-hour period.

Q.: What if I change my mind and, after the baby is born, I decide not to place my child for adoption after all?
A.: Then you will take the baby home when you are discharged from the hospital.

Q.: What if I just can't decide? What are my options, and where does the baby go in the meantime?
A.: You can choose to place the baby in foster care while you make your decision, but you will have to pay for the foster care during that time. You can also choose to take the baby home with you while you make your decision, or you can give the baby to a relative to take care of while you make up your mind. Keep in mind, though, that it is not good for the baby for you to prolong your decision; the child needs a committed, loving parent as soon as possible.

Q.: Assuming I decide to go through with the adoption, how does it work?
A.: After the 72 hours has passed, a social worker will either come to your home or meet you in the social worker's office, according to where you feel more comfortable. If, after the 72 hours has passed, you have decided to go through with the adoption, you will relinquish your parental rights to the adoptive parents and consent to the adoption. You relinquish your rights through an attorney, in which case you will give your consent in court, or through a social worker, in which case you will relinquish your rights to an adoption agency.

Some birth mothers like to have a "handing over" ceremony to mark the occasion of your relinquishing of parental rights to the adoptive parents. If you decide you want a ceremony, this can be done at the hospital chapel. During such a ceremony, you would physically pick up your child and hand it over to the adoptive parents. Sometimes people exchange gifts or poems, etc. Some birth mothers like to have the baby baptized, and then hand the child over to the adoptive parents in the church. Some birth mothers prefer not to have any kind of handing over ceremony and would rather not even be at the hospital when the adoptive parents come to the hospital to pick up the baby.

Q.: Can I create whatever type of handing-over ceremony I want?
A.: Yes. This is your adoption. You can have as much say in how the adoption is handled as you want, within legal bounds.

Q.: What are some options for a handing-over ceremony?
A.: Some birth mothers create a very elaborate ceremony that includes baptizing the baby in church and then handing the baby over to the adoptive family. Other birth mothers opt to read a poem in a very simple handing-over ceremony in the hospital chapel. Still others do not choose to be present when the adoptive family picks up the baby. You can choose how you want to handle this based on what makes you feel best.

Q.: What if I don't want to see the adoptive parents, or even the baby?
A.: You do not have to see the baby or the family. You should talk this over with your counselor and do what is best for you.

Q.: Does the adoptive family take the baby to their home right from the hospital?
A.: In most cases, yes, but it depends on the choices you make. If you decide to take the baby home or have a relative care for the baby during the 72-hour waiting period, or you decide to have a handing-over ceremony at a place other than the hospital, then the adoptive family will take the baby from whatever location you choose.

Q.: Will my baby hate me when he or she gets older?
A.: Most adoptions now are handled with truth and integrity, and most birth mothers choose to write a letter to the child saying something like this: "I do love you and I do want what's best for you. Right now I am not in a position to take care of myself, much less to properly give you everything you deserve as an innocent child." Many birth mothers are not in a position, either financially or emotionally, to properly care for a child. In placing a child for adoption, a birth parent is doing what she believes is in the child's best interests. In my experience, most adopted children understand this and are grateful to have been placed in a loving, stable family.

Q.: Do I have to write a letter to the child?
A.: No. This is only a recommendation, but if you don't feel up to it, or just don't want to, you certainly don't need to do it. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, other than consent to the adoption or relinquish your rights to the child, assuming you have decided to place your baby for adoption.

New Family-Building Options: Gestational Surrogacy and Sperm or Egg Donation
Having a family is one of the special joys afforded to many people in life. Unfortunately, statistics tell us that one in five couples is unable to experience this joy due to problems beyond their control and the control of medical professionals.
Adoption is one option for prospective parents to consider, but many people prefer to consider options that could allow them to have a child through surrogacy or assisted reproduction. Having a child with the help of a surrogate can help fulfill your dreams of having a family. Unlike other methods of creating a family, the process of using a gestational surrogate can allow your child to have biological ties to one or possibly both parents (depending on whether in vitro fertilization is used).

When considering surrogacy or another assisted reproduction technique, however, it is essential to understand that there are legal consequences to your choices. It is unwise to handle this through an informal agreement - or no agreement.
Without legal advice, your child's legal parentage could be in question. Donors or surrogate carriers could have parental rights and responsibilities, or you could lack parental rights to your child. In order to protect yourself, your child and your family, contact a lawyer experienced in assisted reproduction and surrogacy law for advice.

Attorney Michael J. Davis is knowledgeable and competent in the field of surrogacy law. She represents both prospective parents and women who are interested in becoming gestational surrogates in Ohio, across the United States, and worldwide:

  • Arranging surrogacies
  • Writing and reviewing ovum (egg) donation contracts
  • Handling egg donation issues, including donor consent, parental rights and of use egg donation in surrogacy
  • Sperm donation issues, including donor consent and parental rights
  • Embryo donation and "snowflake adoption"
  • Surrogacy for single parents
  • Surrogacy for same-sex parents, including obtaining legal rights for both parents
  • Birth orders and obtaining legally valid birth certificates

An Attorney with 20 Years of Experience in Surrogacy and Complex Reproductive Law
As a lawyer involved in reproductive technology and surrogacy law, Michael J. Davis has been developing and revising surrogacy contracts for more than 20 years, incorporating changes as the law has changed.
If you are considering growing your family with the help of a gestational surrogate, or if you are interested in becoming a surrogate, we invite you to contact our law office for an informational meeting to review all of the options to grow your family or become a gestational surrogacy or ovum donor. We would be happy to discuss surrogate parenting or other assisted reproduction options with you.

Important Information About the Adoption Tax Credit
Attorney Attorney Michael J. Davis is not a financial tax advisor. This information is not a substitute for professional tax advice and should not be relied upon without professional tax advice.

1. What is the increase in IRS Tax Credit Amounts for 2010?
Adoptive parents are able to claim $13,170 per child for qualified adoption expenses. There is an income eligibility phase-out with incomes of $182,520 to $222,520. If individuals earn more than $222,520, they are ineligible for the adoption tax credit.

2. How does this differ from the previous year?
Previously, the adoption tax credit for 2009 was $12,150 for families earning under $174,730 to phase out to $214,730 and $12,150 for 2009.

3. How is tax credit different from tax deduction?
A tax credit is much more beneficial than a tax deduction. A tax credit is subtracted from the total amount of taxes you owe. A tax deduction goes into the calculation of your income. In essence, a tax credit is a refund.

4. Is there anything the tax credit does not cover?
The tax credit does not apply to surrogate parenting arrangements, stepparent or adult adoptions.

5. What items are covered with the tax credit?
Qualifying adoption related expenses must be “directly related” to the adoption of an eligible child. These may include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, legal and court costs, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home), and other expenses directly involving a legal adoption.

6. What if I get reimbursements paid by my employer or another organization?
Then you must subtract your reimbursement amount from your total adoption costs.

7. What if my domestic adoption does not go through, can I still claim the tax credit?
Yes, in domestic adoptions, the credit can be applied even if your adoption does not go through.

8. What if my international adoption does not go through, can I still claim/file for the credit?
No. In an international adoption, you can only claim the tax credit if you have a finalization.

9. What if my adoption takes more than a year?
The total amount of tax credit applies per child, not per year.

10. What if I adopt more than one child within a one year period?
Again, the tax credit is per child, not per year. Therefore, if you qualify and adopt two children in one year, your tax credit for that year would be $26,340.

11. What if the cost of my adoption expenses does not exceed the tax credit?
Then the total amount of your adoption would be covered by the adoption tax credit.

12. When does the law get complicated and it is imperative I consult a tax professional?
The tax law gets very complicated for middle income families; the details and small print of how it works is hard to understand. Please consult your professional tax advisor for clarification.

13. Does Ohio have an additional tax credit?
Yes. In addition to Federal tax credit, Ohio has a tax credit of $1,500 regardless of your income.

14. What forms will I need for the Federal Tax Credit?

  • Form 8839 (Qualified Adoption Expenses) is the form you need to file.
  • Form 8839 – itemizing qualifying adoption-related expenses.
  • Form SS-5 – apply for Social Security number for child.
  • Form W-7 - to apply for an Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN) if your child is a resident or non-resident alien who does not qualify for an SSN.
  • Form W-7A – to apply for an Adoption Taxpayer ID Number (ATIN) if you are in the process of adopting a US citizen or resident, and cannot get an SSN until the adoption is final.

15. Where can I go for more information?
To view the IRS tax topic, go to and to view the IRS publication go to

Ohio House Bill 7 passed and changes adoption laws in Ohio, that affect private adoptions.
Q. We are a prospective adoptive family. What are some of the changes in Ohio law that could affect us in the process of an adoption?
A. The birthmothers are now allowed up to $3,000 towards living expenses. This is different in that prior to this law; the birthmother was not allowed any living expenses. What has not changed is that the adoptions should not cost her anything. For example, all medical, hospitalization, counseling, attorney and agency costs are paid for by the adoptive family as before.

Q. At what point do we pay her and for what period of time?
A. The law is unclear, however, it does state the birthmother is entitled to living expenses “during her pregnancy up to 60 days after.”

Q. How is this different from previous law?
A. In the previous law, the birthmothers in Ohio were not allowed any living expenses. However, medical, hospital, legal, counseling, attorney and agency costs were all allowed to be covered.

Q. Does she have to show receipts?
A. The law is unclear about this. However, it does state that the $3,000 is for “living expenses.” It would be prudent to have receipts to verify to the Judge that the funds did, in fact, cover living expense, and not as an inducement for her consent.

Q. How does this differ from other states?
A. Most other states do have a “living expenses” allowance for the birthmothers through their pregnancy. Some states have no limit such as California, Texas and New Jersey. Some adoptive parents have spent up to $20,000 or more simply for living expenses. Some states such as Indiana also have a limit of $3,000 living expenses, and in Wisconsin, the limit is $5,000.

Q. Do we pay her $3,000 directly?
A. No. The new law does state that the $3,000 living expenses shall be paid through an attorney or agency.

Q. What if she doesn't choose a plan of adoption for her child. Do we get the money back?
A. No. She may change her mind about adoption and she is not required by law to reimburse the expenses back to you.

Q. Is there anything else about this new law that may affect our private adoption?
A. This new law covers many issues involved with foster care, adoption evaluation, and jurisdictional issues. I am addressing in this article a few items that affect the private adoption process. In addition to the $3,000 living expenses, items of interest, items of interest with private adoptions may be:

  • The manner and rules adopted for a homestudy shall align with the manner and rules adopted for foster care approval;
  • After a child has been legally placed for adoption with a family, an assessor (social worker) must visit the home within first 7 days and one time monthly until finalization.
  • The new law places more responsibility on the birthparents to
  • “regularly” communicate with the child; and
  • “significantly” support the child for at least one year prior to filing of petition without a justifiable excuse and if they do not; we do not need their consent for the adoption.

Q. When does this new law go into effect?
A. April, 2009.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Davis

To talk to Michael J. Davis about your legal concerns, please contact us by calling 513-604-8391 or emailing us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael J. Davis is located in Mason, Ohio, and serves clients throughout Ohio, including Lebanon, Maineville, Mason, Morrow, Springboro, South Lebanon, West Chester, Warren County, Butler County, Hamilton County, Clermont County and Clinton County, Ohio.


You are here: Family Adoptions