Frequently Asked Questions About Ohio Adoption Law and Forms
- Q: What does the law referring to "open records" (effective March 20, 2015) do?
- Q: Why does the 2015 law only affect records in adoptions from 1964 to 1996?
- Q: What adoption records does the 2015 law effect?
- Q: Tell me more about the Contact Preference Form (CPF) and how that works.
- Q: What is the process to request my original birth certificate?
- Q. Does this law impact adoptees born in Ohio, but adopted in other states? What about adoptees born in other states, but adopted in Ohio?
- Q: What other records can adoptees get?
- Q: Tell me more about the birthparent redaction provision. Why is this in the 2015 law?
- Q: Can birthparents/families file to receive the adoptee's amended birth certificate?
- Q: Is there a cost to receive my original birth certificate?
A: Ohio-born adoptees adopted from January 1, 1964, to September 18, 1996, and their lineal descendants can access their original (pre-adoption) birth certificate as of March 20, 2015. The law also repealed the old Ohio Adoption Registry, popularly known as the mutual consent registry. This law is the culmination of 25 year's worth of legislative advocacy by Adoption Network Cleveland in our efforts to promote ethical practices in adoption and foster care. Click the link above this paragraph to see a historical overview of the process.
Q: Why does the 2015 law only affect records in adoptions from 1964 to 1996?
A: The Vital Statistics file is already available under Ohio law to adoptees adopted before January 1, 1964. In adoptions after September 18, 1996, the file is also available to the adoptee (at age 21, and to the adoptive parents of an adoptee age 18-20). The records opened after September 18, 1996, represent one of the initial legislative victories initiated by Adoption Network Cleveland. The 2015 law completed this process and effectively made original birth records available to all Ohio adoptees and their lineal descendants and to the degree possible eliminated the previous illogical system of three separate tiers of limited and differing access.
A: The law pertains only to the records held at the Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics in Columbus. Upon request, the adoptee (age 18 or older), will receive their original birth certificate and adoption decree. If the birthparent has filed a Contact Preference Form and updated medical history, those will be released along with the record. In addition, if there are any old Ohio Adoption Registry release forms in the file, those will also be released. The law does not apply to records at adoption agencies, which are only allowed by law to release "non-identifying information". For more information visit the Ohio Department of Health website by clicking the title of this question.
A: The CPF created in the 2015 law offers a mechanism for birthparents to express their wishes about contact. It is a voluntary form that has three options for birthparents to choose from 1) A birthparent can express a desire for contact and provide personal contact information; 2) A birthparent can express a desire for contact and provide contact information for a third party of their choosing. The adoptee can contact the birthparent through the third party; 3) A birthparent can express their desire not to be contacted. The form also has an area for the birthparent to write a narrative comment. The form encourages a birth parent to file an updated medical history form and indicates to the adoptee if this has been done. If a CPF is on file at Vital Statistics, it will be released to the adoptee with the contents of their adoption file. Birthparents can only submit this form for themselves, they cannot submit it on behalf of the other birthparent. A birthparent can file a CPF at any time.
A: The adoptee records request form is available at the office of Vital Statistics in Columbus and on the Ohio Department of Health website (Click on this question to be linked). The request form must be notarized and be accompanied by copies of two forms of acceptable identification. Items of identification include, but are not limited to, a motor vehicle operator's license or chauffeur's license, marriage record (to provide linkage between the maiden name and married name), social security card, military identification card, or employee's identification card. If there has been a name change, for example, an adoptee is now using a married name; extra documentation should be included to link the maiden name to the married name, such as the marriage license. Requests can be filed at Vital Statistics in Columbus in person at the window or through the mail. All requests will be fulfilled through the mail. Adoptees will not be handed their records at the Vital Statistics window. From our experience, adoptees typically receive their original birth certificate 2-3 weeks after requesting it, although the Ohio Department of Health website does specify to allow one month.
Q. Does this law impact adoptees born in Ohio, but adopted in other states? What about adoptees born in other states, but adopted in Ohio?
A: Adoptees with multi-state adoptions often "fall through the cracks" regarding which state's laws apply. The 2015 does specify that it applies to adoptees born in Ohio but adopted in other states—those adoptees are able to get their original Ohio birth certificate. However because Ohio would not have the original birth certificate of adoptees born elsewhere, those could not be included in this law.
A: Ohio adoptees can usually get their "non-identifying" information from the agency or attorney that handled their adoption. Under Ohio law adoptees can request this information through the agency or attorney that handled their adoption. Ohio Revised Code, ORC 3107.66 and associated Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).
Q: Tell me more about the birthparent redaction provision. Why is this in the 2015 law?
A: Senate Bill 23 was originally crafted with only the birthparent Contact Preference Form. This original version of the bill was the subject of the hearings in the House and the Senate through the spring of 2013. The bill then stalled and looked like it would not pass the Senate unless further provisions were added. At that point, a birthparent redaction provision was added by the Ohio Senate.
The birthparent redaction provision gave a one-year period, ending March 19, 2015, in which a birthparent could voluntarily come forward to file a form requesting that their name be removed from the version of the original birth certificate that is released to the adoptee. For the redaction form to be accepted by Vital Statistics it had to have been notarized and a current medical history form must have been submitted by the birthparent.
A birthparent who had filed a redaction form can come back at any time to remove it. If a redaction form is present and the adoptee requests their birth certificate, the full birth certificate will be released, minus the birthparent's name. The medical history form provided by the birthparent will also be released to the adoptee. Of the 400,000 records impacted by the redaction clause, only 259 redaction requests were filed, representing .06% of the total.
A: At this time no. Only adoptees and their lineal descendants can file for access to their original birth records. There is a form from the Ohio Department of Health that an adoptee can file to allow release of their amended birth certificate (Click on the question above to be linked to the website). If that form is on file, then Vital Statistics can release the amended certificate if requested by the birthparent.
Q: Is there a cost to receive my original birth certificate?
A: The cost is $20, which is comparable to the fee the state charges for any birth certificate request.