How to Adopt in Kentucky

From Louisville to Lexington, Bowling Green to Owensboro and everywhere in between, hundreds of families have been completed through adoption in Kentucky. Whether you are looking to adopt a child or considering adoption for your baby, this guide outlines the rules and qualifications for adopting a child in Kentucky, as well as other helpful state adoption information.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Kentucky

Like every state, Kentucky has laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. If you are interested in adopting a child in Kentucky, the following information will help you better understand the adoption process, laws and qualifications in your state.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Kentucky?

Any adult age 18 older who has resided in Kentucky for at least 12 months may adopt. Married couples must adopt jointly, except in stepparent adoptions. This requirement may be waived if the court finds that it would prevent a child from being placed in a suitable home.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Kentucky?

Adoptive parents in Kentucky may pay fees for legal services, costs of placement services and birth parent expenses. All expenses paid by the prospective adoptive parents must be submitted to the court with an affidavit listing all expenses for the court’s approval or modification.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in Kentucky?

Kentucky foster parents must be at least 21 years old, be in good physical and mental health, be financially stable and be able to provide a safe, secure and healthy home for a child. Prospective foster families must attend an informational meeting and complete a home study, and all adults in the home must complete 30 hours of pre-service preparation training and paperwork.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Kentucky?

Adoptive parents must file a petition for adoption for a child born outside of the United States without a decree, judgement or final order of adoption issued by a court in the foreign country, or for any child born outside of the United States who does not qualify for U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States.

The State Registrar will prepare a record of foreign birth for a child who was adopted by a state resident and whose birth record cannot be obtained from his or her country of birth. The certificate will state that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Kentucky?

People, corporations and associations may not advertise in any manner that they will receive children for the purpose of adoption. Only the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and child-placing institutions or agencies can act as an intermediary in an adoptive placement, except in relative and stepparent adoptions or upon written approval of the secretary. Only child-placing agencies may receive any fee for bringing the adoptive parents and the biological parents or child together. This rule does not apply to the legitimate practice of law by an attorney.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Kentucky

As a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, you likely have many questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Kentucky. The following information will help answer some of your questions about adoption laws in the Bluegrass State.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

Consent may not be given prior to 72 hours after the child’s birth. A petition for voluntary termination of parental rights must be filed in the circuit court of the county where the consenting parent or child resides or in the circuit court in the county where juvenile court actions concerning the child have commenced.

Who must consent to the adoption?

In Kentucky, consent to adoption is required of the living parent or parents of a child born in wedlock, the mother of a child born out of wedlock, and the father of the child born out of wedlock if he has legally established paternity. A minor parent may consent to adoption, but a guardian ad litem will be appointed.

If the child to be adopted is age 12 or older, he or she must consent to the adoption in court.

When is consent not needed?

Parental consent is not required when:

  • The parent has been adjudged mentally disabled
  • The parent has had his or her parental rights terminated
  • The birth father has not established his parental rights
  • The parent has abandoned the child for 90 days or longer
  • The parent has inflicted or allowed serious physical injury or emotional harm to the child
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony involving serious physical injury to the child
  • The parent has continuously or repeatedly failed, refused to provide, or has been incapable of providing essential parental care and protection to the child for at least six months
  • The parent has caused or allowed the child to be sexually abused or exploited
  • For reasons other than poverty alone, the parent has repeatedly failed to provide essential food, clothing, shelter, medical care or education for the child
  • The parent has had his or her rights to another child involuntarily terminated and has not corrected the condition or factor that caused TPR
  • The parent has been convicted of having caused or contributed to the death of another child

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

Voluntary and informed consent is irrevocable 20 days after the placement approval or the execution of the consent.

What rights does the father of the baby have in Kentucky adoptions?

A man is considered to be a child’s parent if the child is born in wedlock, or if he has established his paternity of a child born out of wedlock.

When a child is born out of wedlock, both parents may sign an acknowledgement of paternity to be authenticated by a notary public. The voluntary acknowledgement of paternity has the same weight and authority as a judgement of paternity.

A putative father may be made a party to an involuntary termination action if:

  • He is known and voluntarily identified by the mother in an affidavit
  • He has acknowledged the child as his own by affirmatively asserting his paternity within 60 days of the child’s birth
  • He has consented to be named on the child’s birth certificate
  • He has commenced a judicial proceeding claiming parental rights
  • He has contributed financially to the support of the child
  • He has married the mother of the child or has lived openly with the child or the child’s biological mother

Any person to whom the above conditions do not apply has no parental rights to the child in question.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Kentucky

Prior to fostering or adopting a child in Kentucky, you must complete a home study. The home study is an evaluation process that assesses your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.

Below, find information about what to expect during the Kentucky home study process.

What is included in the Kentucky home study process?

The Kentucky home study includes the following elements:

  • At least three personal references, including one from a relative
  • At least two financial references
  • A criminal background check
  • A child abuse and neglect check
  • At least one home visit and face-to-face interview with each prospective adoptive parent and members of the parents’ household

Who is included in the home study process?

The home study includes the proposed adoptive parent(s) and members of the household.

Who will conduct the home study?

For adoptive parents whose total gross income is equal or less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, the cabinet will conduct the home study, unless the applicant submits a written request for the home study to be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency.

For adoptive parents whose total gross income is more than 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, the Kentucky home study will be completed by a licensed child-placing agency.

When must the home study be completed?

The home study must be completed prior to the approval of an application to receive a child. The home study is valid for one year following the date of its completion.

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Kentucky?

The home study will not be approved if criminal records checks reveal that the prospective adoptive parent or any adult member of the household has been convicted of: a felony involving a spouse, child, sexual violence or death; physical abuse, battery, drugs or alcohol within the past five years; or a criminal conviction or civil judicial determination related to child abuse or neglect.

The home study will not be approved if a sex offender resides at the applicant’s home or if any applicant, adolescent or adult member of the household has been found to have sexually abused or exploited a child, has been responsible for a child fatality related to abuse or neglect or has had their parental rights terminated involuntarily.

What are the post-placement study requirements for Kentucky?

Upon filing an adoption petition, the clerk of the court will send copies of the petition to the cabinet, and the cabinet or other person or agency designated by the cabinet or the court will investigate and report whether the contents of the adoption petition are true and whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The post-placement report must be filed with the court within 90 days of placement of the child.

What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Kentucky?

A report is not necessary in a relative or stepparent adoption, but the court in its discretion may order a report and background check.

What are the requirements to adopt a child from another state?

Any interstate adoption is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

In Kentucky, you are required to obtain a home study prior to an adoption placement. Contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:

  • All Blessings International (KY)
    866-543-7459
    All Blessings International provides comprehensive training and education for prospective adoptive families during the home study process.
  • Adoption Assistance
    859-236-2761
    Adoption Assistance is a Kentucky and Tennessee licensed nonprofit adoption agency that provides home studies for domestic and international adoptions, adoption training, post-placement services and home investigations for independent adoptions.

Kentucky Adoption Professionals

When you are ready to begin the adoption process, your adoption professional can work with you to answer your questions and arrange necessary adoption services. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing adoptions in Kentucky and can help guide you through your adoption journey:

For more information about foster care in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  

Things to do in Kentucky

Whether you visit the Bluegrass State to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval, there is plenty to keep you busy in Kentucky. Here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay in Kentucky:

For more information about traveling to Kentucky, visit http://www.kentuckytourism.com/.