To afford protection to children involved in independent adoptions, all persons other than a licensed child placing agency who wish to place or receive a child must make written application to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS/Cabinet) secretary. Additionally, no petition for adoption can be filed in Kentucky, unless prior to the filing of the petition, the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by a licensed child placing agency or by the Cabinet, or the child has been placed with the written approval of the CHFS secretary or designee. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) also applies to non-relative independent adoptions if either the placing parent(s) or the proposed adoptive parents are residents of another state.
There are two types of independent adoptions in Kentucky: relative and non-relative. All relative adoptions are exempt from the requirement of needing secretarial approval. KRS 199.470(4) defines relative adoption as: A child sought to be adopted by a blood relative, including a relative of half-blood; first cousin; aunt; uncle; nephew; niece; a person of a preceding generation as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great great; stepparent; stepsibling; or fictive kin.
Although employees of the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) may be either a placing or a receiving parent, they cannot act as intermediary or assist in any way with the arrangement of an independent placement. Also, Kentucky licensed child placing agencies are forbidden by administrative regulations from facilitating an independent placement.
With the provisions of KRS 199.470, independent adoption home studies are completed by DCBS staff for applicants whose total gross income is equal to or less than two hundred fifty percent (250%) of the federal poverty guidelines (please refer to Health and Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines). These guidelines must be multiplied by two point five (2.5) in order to meet the two hundred fifty percent (250%) requirement, unless the applicant submits a written request for the home study to be conducted by a licensed child placing agency or institution. Applicants whose total gross income exceeds two hundred fifty percent (250%) of the federal poverty guidelines will be referred to a list of licensed child placing agencies that can complete their home study. (please refer to Kentucky Licensed Private Adoption Agencies)
Central Office Staff:
- Receives, records, and maintains all adoption petitions filed within Kentucky;
- Requests appropriate reports from local DCBS offices or private agencies, regarding types of petitions filed;
- Enters all independent or private adoption information into TWIST;
- Maintains all TWIST cases and court documentation through completion of the case;
- Reviews all petitions to ensure the requirements for the filing of an adoption petition have been met;
- Sends an error letter to the attorney and court of jurisdiction for any adoption petition filed in error;
- Mails a letter and independent non-relative adoption packet to the attorney for the petitioner, in cases where secretarial approval is required; 1
- Notifies the court of jurisdiction when a petition is filed prior to cabinet secretary approval; and
- Seals and transfers all independent and private adoption cases, which have been completed or dismissed, to the records management section for archiving.
Contingencies and Clarifications
If any local staff receive an adoption petition directly from the court, they should forward the petition to central office for processing prior to taking any action on the case.
If any local staff is assigned an adoptive task from the Adoption Services Branch and feels the case has been assigned in error, they should consult with the Adoption Services Branch.
If local staff receive a request from another state regarding adoption, it should be referred to ICPC.
Cabinet staff should not advise attorneys, clients, or agencies when an independent adoption petition should or could be filed as fictive kin. The decision to designate adoptions as fictive kin rests solely with the attorney filing the adoption petition in independent adoptions. These individuals may be referred to the Adoption Services Branch for further information.