Unregulated Custody Transfers of Adopted Children - Kentucky

Date: August 2022


This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Prohibited or Required Actions Regarding Custody

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.473

All persons other than a child-placing agency or institution, the Department for Community Based Services, or persons exempted by § 199.470 who wish to place or receive a child shall make written application to the secretary for permission to place or receive a child.

Prior to the approval of an application to place or receive a child, the required fee shall be paid and a home study will be completed. The purpose of the home study is to review the background of the applicant and determine the suitability of the applicant to receive a child, always considering the best interests of the child for whom application to receive has been made.

Upon a finding by the circuit court that the child should be placed prior to the secretary's ruling on the application, the circuit court may grant the applicant temporary custody of the child pending the decision of the secretary. Temporary custody shall not be granted to an applicant unless a background check, including, but not limited to, a criminal records check and a check of child abuse and neglect records, has been submitted to and reviewed by the court. The background check required for temporary custody shall be part of the home study.

When either the custodial parent or parents of the child to be placed or the persons wishing to receive the child reside out-of-State, the requirements of § 615.030, Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, shall be met before the cabinet gives approval for the child's placement.


Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.470

No petition for adoption shall be filed unless prior to the filing of the petition the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by a child-placing institution or agency or by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, or the child has been placed with written approval of the secretary. No approval shall be necessary in the case of any of the following:

  • A child sought to be adopted by a blood relative, including a relative of half-blood, first cousin, a parent's sibling or their adult child, and a person of a preceding generation as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great-great; stepparent; stepsibling; or fictive kin; however, the court in its discretion may order a home study and a background check as provided in § 199.473
  • A child received by the proposed adopting parent or parents from an agency outside this State with the written consent of the secretary
  • A child adopted under the provisions of § 199.585(1) regarding the recognition of an adoption decree issued by a court or other governmental authority with appropriate jurisdiction in a foreign country when the child to be adopted has been approved for U.S. citizenship
  • A child who has been approved under chapter 615


Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.990

Any person who violates any of the provisions § 199.470 or 199.473 shall be fined no less than $500 nor more than $2,000, imprisoned for no more than 6 months, or both. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.