Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Ohio

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-09

Each adoptive applicant and each adult household member of the applicant's home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.031; 3107.014

An assessor shall conduct a home study for the purpose of determining whether a person seeking to adopt a child is suitable to adopt.

Except as provided below, only an individual who meets all of the following requirements may perform the duties of an assessor:

  • The individual must be in the employ of, appointed by, or under contract with a court, public children's services agency, private child-placing agency, or private noncustodial agency.
  • The individual must be one of the following:
    • A licensed professional clinical counselor, professional counselor, social worker, or marriage and family therapist
    • A licensed psychologist
    • A student working to earn a 4-year, postsecondary degree or higher in a social or behavior science who conducts assessor's duties under the supervision of a licensed professional clinical counselor, social worker, or marriage and family therapist
    • A civil service employee engaging in social work without a license, as permitted by § 4757.41(A)(5)
    • A former employee of a public children services agency who, while so employed, conducted the duties of an assessor

The individual must complete training in accordance with rules adopted under § 3107.015.

An individual in the employ of, appointed by, or under contract with a court prior to September 18, 1996, to conduct adoption investigations of prospective adoptive parents may perform the duties of an assessor under §§ 3107.031, 3107.032, 3107.082, 3107.09, 3107.101, 3107.12, 5103.0324, and 5103.152 if the individual complies with the training requirements of this section regardless of whether the individual meets the professional requirements listed above.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.03; 3107.031; Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-09

The following persons may adopt:

  • A husband and wife together, at least one of whom is an adult
  • An unmarried adult
  • The unmarried minor parent of the adoptee

The assessor shall not consider the person's age when determining whether the person is suitable to adopt if the person is old enough to adopt.

In regulation: The child-placing agency shall provide preservice training to all adoptive applicants prior to approval of the home study. Preservice training shall include the following:

  • The legal rights and responsibilities of adoptive parents
  • The child-placing agency's policies and procedures
  • The Department of Job and Family Services requirements for approving adoptive applicants
  • The effects placement, separation, and attachment issues have on children and their families
  • Caregivers' involvement in permanency planning for children and their families and postadoptive issues for children and families, including the availability of adoption subsidies
  • The dynamics of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and substance abuse on human growth and development
  • Behavior management techniques
  • The effects of caregiving on children's families
  • Prevention, recognition, and management of communicable diseases
  • Community health and social services available to children and their families
  • Cultural issues, including cultural diversity training
  • The substance of § 2152.72 of the Revised Code that deals with the information required to be shared with a prospective adoptive parent before a child who has been adjudicated a delinquent child for the commission of certain violent crimes is placed with a prospective adoptive parent

The agency may waive components of the requirement for education and training if the assessor determines that the family has received training previously or the family has the skills to care for the needs of the child who will be placed in the home.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.033; 3107.034; 3107.035; Admin. Code §§ 5101:2-48-09; 5101:2-48-12

A home study shall include a search of the statewide automated child welfare information system and a check of a central registry of another State if a prospective adoptive parent or a person age 18 or older who resides with a prospective adoptive parent has resided in another State within the 5-year period immediately prior to the date on which a criminal records check is requested.

At the time of the initial home study and every 2 years thereafter, if the home study is updated, the agency that arranges an adoption shall conduct a search of the U.S. Department of Justice national sex offender public website regarding the prospective adoptive parent and all persons age 18 or older who reside with the prospective adoptive parent.

In regulation: The home study shall include the following:

  • Documentation of current marital status, if applicable
  • A financial statement that shows the household has an income sufficient to meet the basic needs of the household
  • The report of State and Federal criminal records checks
  • The results of a central registry of abuse and neglect for each adoptive applicant and each adult household member in every State in which the person has resided in the past 5 years
  • Face-to-face interviews with all members of the household older than age 4
  • Interviews with any adult children of the applicants
  • A medical statement that documents that the applicant and all members of the household are free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition that would endanger children or seriously impair the ability of the household members to care for the adoptee
  • The names of three people unrelated to the applicant who do not reside with the applicant to serve as references
  • Documentation of the successful completion of required preservice training
  • A favorable local or State fire safety inspection
  • Documentation that the residence meets all safety standards

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.034; 3107.035; Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-10

The summary report of a search of the statewide automated child welfare information system shall contain, if applicable, a chronological list of abuse and neglect determinations or allegations of which the person seeking to adopt is subject and in regards to which a public children services agency has done one of the following:

  • Determined that abuse or neglect occurred
  • Initiated an investigation, which is ongoing
  • Initiated an investigation for which the agency was unable to determine whether abuse or neglect occurred

An application for adoption may be denied based on a summary report containing the information described above, when considered within the totality of the circumstances.

A petition for adoption may be denied based solely on the results of the search of the national sex offender public website.

In regulation: The agency shall not approve an adoptive placement if the results of the criminal records check indicate that a prospective adoptive parent or, when applicable, any adult who resides with the prospective adoptive parent, has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense listed this rule, including any of the following:

  • Cruelty to animals
  • Murder, manslaughter, or assault
  • Permitting child abuse
  • Aggravated menacing, menacing by stalking, or menacing
  • Patient abuse or neglect
  • Kidnapping or abduction
  • Criminal child enticement
  • A sexual offense, including rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, voyeurism, public indecency, or prostitution
  • Arson or terrorism
  • Robbery, burglary, or identity fraud
  • Rioting or disturbing a lawful meeting
  • Endangering children
  • Contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child
  • Domestic violence
  • Weapons-related offenses
  • Drug-related offenses

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 5101:2-48-12; 5101:2-48-12.1

The required assessment of an adoptive applicant shall commence within 30 days after the agency receives a fully completed application. The agency shall complete the home study assessment within 180 days of the date the agency received the application.

All adoption home studies shall be updated every 2 years from the date of approval of the initial home study or the date of approval of the most current update, whichever is more recent. The update shall include the following:

  • The most recent medical statement completed for the applicant and all household members by a licensed physician, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse practitioner, or certified nurse-midwife
  • A report of a physical, psychiatric, or psychological examination or treatment of the adoptive parent(s) or other household member to ensure the safety, health, or care of an adoptive child
  • The most recent fire inspection by a State certified fire safety inspector or the State fire marshal's office
  • The most recent financial statement
  • A check of the abuse and neglect report history of each adoptive parent and adult household member
  • A safety audit to be completed within 6 months prior to the approval of the adoption home study update, that documents that the residence continues to meet all safety standards
  • The most recent criminal records check for the adoptive parents and adult household members
  • A minimum of one written reference from a professional who is knowledgeable of the family dynamics and family functioning
  • At least one home visit and one interview with each member of the household (except foster children) over age 4 currently residing in the home

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.101; 3107.12; 3107.13

No later than 7 days after an adoptee is placed in a prospective adoptive home, the assessor shall begin monthly home visits in that home until the court issues a final decree of adoption. During the home visits, the assessor shall evaluate the progress of the placement in the prospective adoptive home and also shall make face-to-face contact with the prospective adoptive parent, the adoptee, and all other children or adults residing in the home.

An assessor shall conduct a prefinalization assessment of the child and petitioner before a court issues a final decree of adoption. On completion of the assessment, the assessor shall prepare a written report that includes the following:

  • The adjustment of the child and the petitioner to the adoptive placement
  • The present and anticipated needs of the child and the petitioner for adoption-related services
  • The physical, mental, and developmental condition of the child
  • If known, the child's birth family background
  • The reasons for the child's placement with the petitioner, the petitioner's attitude toward the proposed adoption, and the circumstances under which the child was placed in the home of the petitioner
  • The attitude of the child toward the proposed adoption, if the child's age makes this feasible
  • If the child is an Indian child, how the placement complies with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978
  • If known, the child's psychological background, including prior abuse of the child and behavioral problems of the child

A final decree of adoption shall not be issued until the adoptee has lived in the adoptive home for at least 6 months after placement and the department or court has had an opportunity to observe or investigate the adoptive home.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 3107.101; 3107.12; 3107.13

The requirement for monthly home visits does not apply to an adoption by a stepparent whose spouse is a birth or adoptive parent of the adoptee. The requirement for a prefinalization assessment does not apply to a stepparent adoption unless a court, after determining a prefinalization assessment is in the best interests of the child, orders that an assessor conduct a prefinalization assessment.

In the case of adoption by a stepparent, the final order of adoption shall not be issued until at least 6 months after the filing of the petition or until the child has lived in the home for at least 6 months.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Rev. Code § 5103.23

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Rev. Code § 3107.012

A foster caregiver may apply to obtain the services of an agency to arrange an adoption for the foster caregiver if he or she seeks to adopt the foster child who has resided in the foster caregiver's home for at least 6 months.

The department shall prescribe an application for a foster caregiver to use. The application shall not require that the foster caregiver provide any information the foster caregiver already provided the department or undergo an inspection the foster caregiver already underwent to obtain a foster home certificate.

An agency that receives an application for adoption from a foster caregiver shall not require, as a condition for accepting or approving the application, that the foster caregiver undergo a criminal records check as a prospective adoptive parent. The agency shall inform the foster caregiver that the foster caregiver must undergo the criminal records check before a court may issue a final decree of adoption or interlocutory order of adoption.

Links to Resources

Ohio Adoption Guide: A Handbook for Prospective Adoptive Families (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services)

State regulations