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Kentucky Adoption Laws

Often, an adoption is a happy time for the whole family. Whether you’re a stepparent adopting a stepchild you’ve raised or you want to adopt out of the foster care system, there are many laws that apply to your situation. Understanding these laws can help guide a couple as to when and how to adopt.

Adoption has been in the news in Kentucky recently because of an adoption fraud case to be heard by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Like many state, Kentucky doesn’t have an adoption fraud statute that addresses taking money from multiple couples for the same baby or a non-existent baby. However, it’s also illegal in Kentucky to pay for a baby.

The following table outlines the main adoption laws in Kentucky.

Code Section Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 199: Protective Services for Children – Adoption
Who May Be Adopted Any child or adult can be adopted.
Age that Child's Consent Needed Any child 12 years old or older must consent to their adoption. However, the court at its discretion can waive this requirement.
Who May Adopt Any person over 18 who is a resident of or who has resided in Kentucky for 12 months immediately before filing for adoption can adopt in Kentucky.

A married couple must petition jointly, except when it’s a stepparent adoption or the court can waive the requirement if it would deny the child a suitable home.

Same-sex or other unmarried couples aren’t permitted to do a stepparent-like adoption in Kentucky, such as adoption your partner’s biological child. Although, a single LGBT individual can adopt a non-biological child, and there’s no explicit prohibition against same-sex joint adoptions.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption If the child is placed through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services or one if its agencies, there’s no home residency requirement. In other cases, the child must reside continuously in the adoptive parents’ home for 90 days before filing the adoption petition. However, temporary custody pending a decision can be available in some cases.
State Agency The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is the state agency responsible for adoption services in Kentucky.
Adoption Court Adoption proceedings take place in the local circuit court in the county that the petitioner, the adoptive parent(s), resides.
Time Limit to Challenge The time limit or statute of limitations to challenge an adoption proceeding is one year. However, it’s a longer period of five years if the child is a different ethnological ancestry and the adoptive parents had no knowledge of this prior to the adoption.

If you’re looking to adopt, you should contact an experienced Kentucky adoption lawyer, as well as the Cabinet of Health and Family Services or an adoption agency.

Note: As state laws change frequently, it’s important to verify any laws you’re researching by conducting your own legal research or contacting an attorney.

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