Make your own free website on

History of Ohio's Adoption Laws

by: John DeHaven


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".


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.


January 1, All envelopes filed after this date were sealed. Subject to review only by the order of the Probate Court which processed the Adoption. There were 112,837 Envelopes as of December 31, 1963. It was now mandatory to make the new Amended Certificate at the time of the adoption.

The new law further stipulated that if the Amended Certificate had not been created prior to January 1, 1964, when it was created the file would be sealed as though the adoption had occurred after January 1, 1964. It did not matter when the birth or adoption occurred. (retroactive law?)

H.B. 84 - how it became law

1977-78 SUMA (Services to Un-married parents and adoption) in Cincinnati proposed a new law. The Children's Home of Cincinnati also worked on this project. Their proposal provided a system that would allow birth parents to file a "release of identifying information" with the State Health Department. There were No adopted persons on the committee that drafted the proposal. A bill was drafted and sponsored by Rep. Jerry Leubbers (D) Cincinnati.

1979-80 The "SUMA" Bill was introduced. That same year Rep Wm. Healy (D) Canton introduced a Bill that would have opened the sealed records. Both Bills died in committee.

1983-84 The SUMA Bill (now called H.B. 84) went through the entire legislative process. It was signed by Gov. Richard Celeste (D) in December, 1984, to become effective in March, 1985. With this law, any person born and their adoption decreed prior to January 1, 1964, could now (finally) receive, upon request, the contents of their adoption envelope sealed in the State Health Departments Vital Statistics office.

Editor's note: Did anyone see a Republican doing anything to help adoptees???


September 18, a new law now becomes law. 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.

The Dreaded Years

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.

Editor's note: As of the writing of this page on 10/7/98, I have never heard of a reunion using the method described above...


I was informed by a person at the Children's Home of Cincinnati that there was 1 reunion from this registry.
Update 2

We have paperwork in our office from both the Ohio Dept. of Health and the Franklin County Probate that reunited an Adoptee with the WRONG birth family.

Return to Main Page