13.15 Adoptive Placement of a Newborn Directly from the Hospitale (KAPE)



Practice Guidance

  • Legal risk is always involved in making hospital placements, since parental rights cannot be terminated prior to three (3) days after the child’s birth. Therefore, the adoptive parents are to be informed that the child remains at "legal risk" until the termination of parental rights is granted. 
  • The adoptive placement agreement is not signed by any party until parental rights have been terminated, and all other appropriate procedures have been explored regarding the adoptive referral. 
  • Persons contacting the Cabinet prior to or after the birth of their child who wish to relinquish the child for adoption should be referred to a Kentucky private licensed adoption agency. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has a current listing of available agencies. 
  • If the court places temporary custody with the Cabinet at the temporary removal hearing, the custody order remains in effect for a minimum of thirty (30) days and a maximum of forty-five (45) days. 
  • Following the thirty (30) day placement period, the Cabinet files a petition in circuit court seeking the involuntary termination of parental rights and authority to place the child for adoption in accordance with KRS Chapter 625.​


Prior to completing a direct hospital placement, the SSW:
  1. Obtains a voluntary commitment order signed by the birth mother and/or the birth father, or when appropriate, the juvenile and or family/district court order of commitment to the Cabinet; Obtains the notarized "Statement of Understanding" signed by the adoptive family; and 1 
  2. Provides a copy of the commitment order to the hospital prior to release of the child to the SSW. 2
For Abandoned Newborns
The SSW:
  1. Immediately seeks an emergency custody order upon notice from any emergency medical or hospital staff that a newborn infant has been abandoned; 
  2. Places the child in a dually approved resource home upon the infant's release from the hospital.


  1. Copies of both documents are forwarded to the Adoption Services Branch. 
  2. To prevent the adoptive family’s name from entering the hospital record, the SSW accompanies the family to the hospital and signs for the baby’s release.​​