Adoption Terms And Information

 1.  Agency Adoptions. Adoptions through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) or through a licensed child-placing agency are considered agency adoptions. In these adoptions, the biological parent or parents relinquish their rights in a child to CHFS or to a child-placing agency, and CHFS or the agency selects the adoptive parents.  The child can be placed with the adoptive parents without an application to receive a child but the adoptive parents are still evaluated to determine their suitability for adoption.  Private agencies charge significant fees for these services.
2.   Stepparent/Relative Adoptions. A child can be placed for adoption with certain family members by the biological parents without filing an application to place or receive a child with the CHFS.  Similarly, a stepparent can adopt a child with the parents' permission without filing an application to place or receive a child.  CHFS must approve, but no home study is required.
3.  Private or Independent Adoptions. A private or independent adoption is an adoption without the intervention of a licensed adoption agency.  The biological parents select the prospective parents and either give their consent to the adoption or allow their parental rights in the child to be terminated by a separate proceeding.  An application to place or receive a child must be filed with CHFS for approval.  After receiving an application, CHFS requires that most adoptive parents provide their own home study and complete all of the necessary pre-approval paperwork.  This must be done by a licensed child placement agency. The purpose of the investigation is to determine suitability of the applicants to receive the child, considering at all times the best interest of the child.  Home studies can be done in advance of identifying an adoptive child and are good for a period of one year.

After the investigation is completed a written report is filed by the Secretary of CHFS or licensed agency with the Court.   The Secretary is charged with granting or refusing permission for the applicants to receive the child.  The Secretary shall make the decision within sixty (60) days after the receipt of the application and to furnish general reasons for any refusal in writing to the applicant.  The decision of the Secretary is final unless the biological parents of the proposed adoptive parents appeal to circuit court within ten (10) days after notice of refusal.
4.  Multi-State Adoptions. It is possible for a couple living in one state to adopt a child born in another state.  If either the biological parents or the prospective adoptive parents live in a state other than Kentucky, it is usually necessary to comply with all of the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, K.R.S. 6150.030, before the placement can be approved by the Secretary.

5.  Foster Parent Adoptions.  These are adoptions where the child has been placed in a home by an agency that handles foster children.  After a period of time, the couple in whose home the child has been placed may decide that they wish to adopt the child.  In such cases, the placing agency will handle the termination of parent rights of the biological parents.  After that termination is completed the adoptive couple can file a petition to adopt the child in the county of their residence.  In such cases, legal fees are paid by the state.



1.  What is private adoption?   Adoption is the legal placement of a child with people who will raise the child as their own.  Upon completion of the procedure, the child receives the same legal treatment as a natural born child of the adoptive parents.  Private adoption is distinguished from agency adoption in that an attorney, rather than a social department or adoption agency, either brings the parties together or makes all the legal arrangements, or both.
2.  Is private adoption legal?   Yes.  Private adoption is perfectly legal.  Previous statutory language that appeared to prohibit private placements has been modified to state specifically that the law does not prohibit private independent adoption or the right to seek legal services relating to the private independent adoption.
3.  Do birth parents and adoptive parents need separate legal counsel?  Yes. Kentucky Adoption Law makes it clear that in both voluntary termination proceedings and adoption proceedings, an attorney shall not represent both the biological parents and the prospective adoptive parents.
4.  Are adoptions confidential? Qualified yes.  Kentucky law provides that the files and records of the Court during adoption proceedings shall not be open to inspection by persons other than the parties to the proceedings, their attorneys or representatives of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  However, Kentucky does have a provision for examination of records by adult adopted persons.  In addition, if a voluntary informed consent is signed by a birth parent, the birth parent may request that the identity of the adoptive person be divulged.
5.  What is open as opposed to closed adoption?  In the traditional closed adoption the identities of biological parents and adoptive parents are not divulged to each other (although there may be face to face meetings), all matters remain confidential and there is no continuing contact between the birth parents and adopted child.  On the other hand, an open adoption signifies some form of contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents.  The form of contact and the amount are a matter to be agreed upon by the parties involved.  The extent of the "openness" of an adoption can involve many varied aspects such as pre-birth meetings, contact and assistance during pregnancy, phone calls, letters or continuing visitation.  In both closed and open adoptions, the biological parent(s) have great freedom is choosing an adoptive couple.
6.  Does the birth father need to be identified?   Whenever possible, it is best to identify the birth father and to make him a party to the proceedings to terminate parental rights.  Kentucky law contains several provisions dealing with the circumstance where the birth father is either unknown or not voluntarily identified by the birth mother.  Generally, in circumstances where the birth father has not made an effort to make himself known, be identified as the father or provide any financial support, his parental rights may be terminated and the adoption can proceed without his consent.
7.  What court proceedings are required?   Most adoptions involve two separate court proceedings.  The first is a termination of parental rights (TPR).  Such an action cannot be filed until three days after the birth of the child and it cannot be filed unless a written application has been made to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to approve placement of the child.  Generally, only the birth parents and their legal representatives are present at this hearing.  Alternatively, Kentucky law now allows birth parents to voluntarily terminate their parental rights and consent to the proposed adoption by a written form the become irrevocable 20 days after the placement is approved.

The next required court hearing would be the adoption hearing.  This is a closed hearing involving only the adoptive parents, family members and their legal representative.  This action cannot be filed until written approval of the placement is received from the Cabinet.

8.  What expenses will adoptive parents be expected to pay? Generally, adoptive parents pay pre-natal and birth related medical expenses (not covered by existing insurance), legal expenses and other special expenses related to the pregnancy and delivery of the child.  Kentucky law now provides that in every voluntary termination and adoption proceeding, a detailed affidavit must be submitted to the court listing for the court's approval or modification any expenses paid including legal fees, fees for placement services and the expenses of the birth parents.  The court may modify any amount submitted.
9.  Is counseling a good idea?   Yes.  Experience has  shown that counseling for the birth mother, both before and after delivery of the child, increases the chances of a successful placement.  Adoptive parents may pay for counseling services as they would other medical expenses.
10.  Where does the baby go after it's released from the hospital? This depends on many factors. Usually temporary custody is arranged prior to the baby being released from the hospital.  Kentucky law provides that the Circuit Court may grant an adoptive parent temporary custody of the child pending the decision by the Cabinet on the application for placement of the child.  In order for temporary custody to be granted, however, the adoptive parents must have completed significant portions of the home study, including criminal and sexual predator screenings.

11.  When the baby grows up, can the baby contact its birth parents?  Yes.  Current Kentucky law allows an adoptive child to search for its birth parents at age 21.  If the birth parents sign a consent agreeing to the release of the identifying data, this will be released, upon request, to the child at age 21.
12.  How is a private adoption initiated?  Once available birth parents and/or an available child are identified, the administrative and legal portions of a private adoption are initiated by filing a Form DSS-187 with the Cabinet.  A non-refundable fee of $250 is required at this time, payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer.
13.  Who can do the home studies required prior to approval of the placement? Most home studies are done by adoption workers employed by or under contract with child placing adoption agencies (other than the State) to perform the home studies.  The new law also allows prospective adoptive parents to contract with private child placing adoption agencies for the home study prior to the identification of an available child.  When prospective adoptive parents identify an available child and file a DSS-187, their application must state if the investigation is to be completed by a private child placing adoption agency.  The final decision either approving or refusing the placement will be made by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services..
14.  Can babies from out of state be adopted?   Yes.  Kentucky, Ohio and most states participate in the Interstate Compact for the Adoption of Children.  This allows children to be brought in from another state and adopted in Kentucky.  It does, however, involve the social welfare agencies of two states.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me either at my office at (859) 341-8400 or cell (859) 512-9499.


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909 Wright's Summit Parkway, Suite 200, Ft. Wright, KY 41011 - Phone: 859-341-8400 - Fax: 859-344-0009