Basic Information

Foster care is a temporary home for a child with a caring family. The goal is to safely reunite these children with their birth families. As a foster parent, your impact goes beyond a child - you may have a chance to help an entire family move toward wholeness.

Children in foster care come from all backgrounds. They range in age from birth to age 18. Many have siblings in foster care with them. Most have experienced abuse or neglect.

These children enter foster care through no fault of their own. However, children who have faced trauma sometimes have learned habits or behaviors to keep themselves safe. You can give them a nurturing home where they feel safe to learn new habits.

All of these children are in the protective custody of the state. The ultimate goal of foster care is to reunify children with their birth families.

However, in some situations, the courts decide reunification with the birth family will not be possible. A judge can then decide through a series of court hearings to terminate the parents' legal rights to their child. If both parents have rights terminated, then the child is legally available for adoption, and his or her caseworker may look for an adoptive home.

The goal for many children in foster care is to safely reunite with their birth families. This is not always possible, and through a series of legal hearings, a judge may terminate the parents' legal rights to their child. If both parents have parental rights terminated, then the child becomes legally available for adoption.

Through adoption, many foster parents choose to become the permanent and legal adoptive parents of children who have been in their approved foster homes. A temporary situation (foster care) then becomes a step forward to a permanent and lifelong commitment (adoption).

By adopting from foster care, you not only make a difference for a child who may have experienced abuse or neglect, but you can impact a whole family. Foster care adoption typically has less upfront cost than private or international adoption. (However, adopting from foster care requires a great amount of time and commitment.) You'll also have support available to you when you adopt from foster care.

Adoption provides a child with a life-long legal and emotional family relationship. When a child is adopted, that child moves permanently from one family to another family. In the process, all parental rights are legally transferred to the new parents. This means adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children were born to them. It also means adopted children have all the emotional, social, legal, and familial benefits of biological children.

Private child caring or private child placing agencies may provide care and services for a child for whom the Cabinet has legal responsibility.

To view the listing of Private Licensed Foster Care and Adoption Agencies, please click here.

Independent adoptions are when the birth or placing parent places directly with the adoptive parent. There are two types of independent adoptions under Kentucky Law, Relative and Non-relative. The law defines relative adoption as one in which the child is "sought to be adopted by a blood relative, including a relative of half-blood, first cousin, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, and a person of a preceding generation as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great-great;  stepparent; step-sibling; or fictive kin". For these adoptions, the Cabinet will complete a court report after the petition is filed. For Non-Relative independent adoptions, applicants must submit the DPP-187 Independent Adoption Application to the Adoptions Section, DCBS Central Office, with a non-refundable fee of $200.00. Once received, Cabinet staff will determine if the family will qualify for the Cabinet to complete the investigation, or if the family will need to have a private agency complete the report. Eligibility is determined based on 250% of the current poverty guidelines. If you have questions about any of these types of adoptions, please call Central Office Staff at (800) 232-KIDS (5437).

Out of state families can adopt children!

Out-of-state families can adopt Kentucky children. Out-of-state families must have a current home study from a public or private agency that is licensed to place children. A current home study means that the home study was completed within the calendar year.  If you have a current home study, simply visit the KAPE website to view children who are legally free for adoption.  Contact the KAPE specialist for the child(ren) in which you are interested. Some states require that Kentucky formally request a copy of your study through your state's interstate (ICPC) office. Each state has different policies. You need to contact your worker and ask about your state's policies.

Kentucky families considering adopting a child from another country are encouraged to contact a private agency, licensed in Kentucky, that prepares home studies for international adoptions.

For residents of Kentucky, only licensed private adoption agencies in Kentucky can prepare a home study for an international adoption. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will not accept a home study done by anyone other than a Kentucky licensed private adoption agency.

All home studies for international adoption must be submitted to the USCIS for approval.

Foreign adoption requirements change frequently. Information about which countries are placing children and the timeframes for these placements is available from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.