Kentucky Adoption Laws: 2021 Ultimate Resource

Kentucky Adoption Laws: 2021 Ultimate Resource

Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Kentucky that you become familiar with Kentucky adoption laws.

Kentucky adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in the Kentucky adoption laws.

We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Kentucky involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.


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With so many aspects of Kentucky adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Kentucky .

You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Kentucky, as laws and policies do change.

Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Kentucky: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.

Adoption Requirements in Kentucky

  • Must be age 21 and older to adopt.

  • One may be single or married.

  • LGBT couples may adopt.

  • Must be financially stable.

  • Home inspection to ensure a safe environment.

  • May rent or own.

  • Physically and mentally capable.

  • Thorough background checks.

It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.

Financial security simply means that you are able to pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage, and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.


Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.


Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Kentucky put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in its legal format and in its entirety, visit Chapter 199:500 – Consent to Adoption, courtesy of Justia Law.

It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.

Other aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.

  • The adoptee who is 12 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.

  • The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption.
  • The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.

Kentucky Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption

Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Kentucky who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.

These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption provides assistance to adoptive families for medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.

In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.

Special Needs Eligibility in Kentucky

A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.

  • Noted emotional, physical, or mental issues.

  • Two years of age or older and member of a racial or ethnic minority group.

  • Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.

  • Seven years of age or older with a significant emotional attachment or psychological tie to the foster family and the Department has determined that it would be in the child’s best interest to remain with the family.

  • Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.

  • A previous adoption disruption or multiple placements.

Kentucky Adoption Advertising Laws

Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.

Common means of advertising include:

  • Newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Internet
  • Billboards
  • Printed Flyers

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.590(1): Use of Advertisement

In the state of Kentucky, a person, corporation, or association shall not advertise in any manner that it will receive children for the purpose of adoption. A newspaper published, prepared, sold, or distributed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.

Birth Parent Expenses in Kentucky

In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.

Chapter 199:590: Prohibited Acts and Practices in Adoption of Children, courtesy of the Kentucky Legislature.

In Kentucky, costs such as legal fees, placement services, and birth parent expenses are allowed to be paid by the adoptive parents. Some examples of such expenses may include the following:

  • Counseling
  • Legal fees
  • Adoption agency fees
  • Prenatal visits
  • Living expenses
  • Hospital costs

Adoptive parents are generally required to file a complete record of expenses related to the adoption that they are covering, and this must happen prior to making a payment toward those expenses.

Your licensed adoption liaison will help to ensure that all financial aspects of the adoption process run smoothly and legally.

What do you do, though, if said expenses are paid and the birth mother changes her mind in the end? Adoption Disruption insurance is available for adoptive parents to protect them from such a misfortune for those adopting domestically.

Accessing Adoption Records in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.520: Access to Nonidentifying Information

Adoptive parents may request nonidentifying adoption records of the birth parents and other blood relatives of the adoptee such as medical records and other nonidentifying information. This requested information shall be given to the adoptive parents and the court no later than the date of finalization of the
adoption proceedings.

An adult adoptee 18 years of age or older may also request nonidentifying information by making a request in person or in writing. The information shall not be made available if it is of a nature that would tend to identify the birth parents of the adoptee, except as provided in §§ 199.570 and 199.572.

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 199.572; 199.575: Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Identifying information is accessible to the following persons:

  • An adoptee who is 18 years of ago or older.

  • Birth siblings who are 18 years of age or older.

  • A birth parent.

Identifying information may be provided to the adult adoptee providing the birth parents have given their written consent. If the adult adoptee requests information and there is no current consent by the birth parents, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will reach out to the birth parents letting them know of the request.

If the cabinet learns that both birth parents are deceased, or they are unable to locate the birth parents, the judge may decide to provide access of the adoption records to the adult adoptee.

Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.

Post Adoption Contact Laws in Kentucky

Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.

The issue of post adoption contact is not addressed in the state statutes. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding birth parent in the state of Kentucky.

When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Kentucky?

When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.

Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.


DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to be helpful in offering some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.