Adoptions In Ohio

Adoptions before January 1, 1939 Section 3107.38 of the Ohio Revised Code provides that an adopted person whose birth occurred in this state and whose adoption was decreed prior to January 1, 1964, may request in writing (notarized affidavit form) and two items of identification attached to the request, may receive copies of the contents of their adoption file. To get this information, you need to complete an Affidavit of the Adopted Person, You can obtain those forms at

Follow the directions on the form and mail to:
Ohio Department of Health
Vital Statistics
35 East Chestnut Street P.O. 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098

Some other sources for early Adoptions are:
 Probate Court Journals listings of Adoptions will be in the index under “I” for “In re of”.
 The Federal Census is another source of adoptions, sometimes listing the relationship to the Head of Household as “Adopted.”
 Newspapers sometimes carried stories about Adoptions.
 The Children’s Home Register 1874-1926 has some adoptions.

Adoptions between January 1, 1939 – 1951
On January 1, The “envelope system” was put into operation. Under this system, amended or “new” Birth Certificates came into being. Prior to that, there was no legal mechanism to create a birth certificate that listed the Adoptive Parents as the parents of the adoptee. This new system was voluntary, not mandatory. If a new certificate was made, it was filed in the envelope held by the Ohio Department of Health. It Contained: (a) Original Birth Certificate (b) Amended Birth Certificate (c) Adoption paper The contents of the envelope could be viewed in person and hand copied by the adoptive parents at any time, and the adopted person when they reached the age of 21. The original birth certificate was still available at the county of birth and remained a public record. The numbering system began with “A-1”.

Adoptions taken place between 1951 – January 1, 1964
The original Birth Certificate ceased to be a public record when and Amended Certificate was created in the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics. A copy was sent back to the county of birth and “clipped” to the original Birth Certificate. This process, was called “flagging”. The original certificates were no longer a public record. The envelope was not sealed and the contents were available to be viewed, as explained above.

Adoptions taken place between January 1, 1964 – September 17, 1996
Adoptees whose adoption was final during this time period have only one recourse. You must file a petition with the Probate Court where your adoption was granted. They will forward this request to the State Bureau of Vital Statistics, who will open and send you the contents of the your adoption envelope only if a birth parent has also filed a release.

Adoptions taken place after September 17, 1996
On September 18, a new law now becomes into effect. Any person born and adopted after this date, upon turning 18 years old, with parents consent, or 21 years old may now request and receive the contents of their adoption envelope, unless the birth parent has signed a non-disclosure form.

Tracing your family history can be frustrating when an adoption is present, whether it’s your own or a relative’s. has some fantastic resources to help with this.

To view this comprehensive list of adoption resources, CLICK HERE.