Kinship And Step Parent Adoption
What is adoption?
Adoption refers to the legal process whereby a person becomes the legal parent of another person, usually a child. A legal adoption severs all legal relationships with the biological family of a child and supplants them with all of the legal relationships of the adoptive parents. Biological grandparents, however, may under certain circumstances, continue to maintain a relationship with the adoptive child.
The Adoption Process in Kentucky
In general, any person who is eighteen (18) years of age and who is a resident of this state may file a petition to adopt a child. While generally the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has to approve of the adoption petition, this is not required for adoptions by family members, a stepparent, or a person who has had an emotionally significant relationship with the child.
Typically, the consent of the biological parent and the child, who is over the age of twelve (12) is required. However, the court may grant the adoption without the consent of the biological living parents of a child where, among other reasons:
- The parent has abandoned the child for a period of more than ninety (90) days;
- The parent has subjected the child to serious physical injury;
- The parent has, or allowed to be, inflicted upon the child physical or emotional harm; or
- The parent, for a period more than six (6) months, continuously or repeatedly failed or refused to provide essential parental care and protection for the child.
While the consent of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and a home study is not required for stepparent or kinship adoptions, the Cabinet does conduct an investigation to determine the sufficiency of the adoption petition, to ensure that the proposed adoptive parents are financially capable and morally fit to adopt the child, and whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child. The Report is due within ninety (90) days of filing the adoption petition.
Experienced Adoption Representation in Kentucky
The stepparent and kinship adoption process can be complicated. Care must be taken to join the appropriate parties to the action; invariably the location of the neglectful biological parent is unknown, issues of paternity need to be addressed, and there may be genuine issues preventing the adoption without the consent of the biological parent.