New Ohio Law and Open Adoptions

Angela Laman, MA, LSW
Ohio Program Director

A new law was signed by the state’s governor, John Kasich in December 2013 allowing those adopted between January 1964 and September 1996 to obtain their adoption files from the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. Under the new law, records will be available starting in March 2015. Once Senate Bill 23 becomes law, there will be a one-year waiting period to give birth parents an opportunity to request that their name be redacted from the birth certificate given to the adoptee. Those who make this request must give a detailed medical history to be made available to the adoptee. This bill will allow adoptees to gain access to their adoption records, learn more about their biological family and medical history and possibly make contact with their birth parents.

This bill closes a gap for adoptees born from 1964 to 1996 who have been caught between two laws. Adult adoptees born before January 1, 1964 were already able to secure their original birth certificates in Ohio via a request to the Ohio Department of Health for a $20 fee. Those adopted between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996 were unable to secure their birth certificates without obtaining a court order.

However, the law was changed on September 18, 1996 to allow those adopted from that date forward access to their birth certificates once reaching age 21 unless the birth parent requested to not be identified.

This new bill will apply to an estimated 400,000 people who were adopted in Ohio during that middle period. It will now allow an adopted individual who is at least 18 years of age to request a copy of their original birth records.