Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

13.50 Relative and Non-Relative Independent Adoptions

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 13-Adoption Services
13.50 Relative and Non-Relative Independent Adoptions

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Legal Authority/Introduction



Practice Guidance  


To afford protection to children involved in independent adoptions, all persons other than a licensed child placing agency who wish to place or receive a child must make written application to the Secretary.  Additionally, no petition for adoption can be filed in Kentucky, unless prior to the filing of the petition, the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by a licensed child placing agency or by the Cabinet, or the child has been placed with the written approval of the Secretary or designee. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) also applies to non-relative independent adoptions if either the placing parent(s) or the proposed adoptive parents are residents of another state.

There are two types of independent adoptions in Kentucky: relative and non-relative. All relative adoptions are exempt from the requirement of needing secretarial approval.  KRS 199.470(4) defines relative adoption as: A child 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; stepsibling; or fictive kin. 

Although employees of the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) may be either a placing or a receiving parent, they cannot act as intermediary or assist in any way with the arrangement of an independent placement. Also, Kentucky licensed child placing agencies are forbidden by administrative regulations from facilitating an independent placement.

With the provisions of KRS 199.470, independent adoption home studies are completed by DCBS staff for applicants whose total gross income is equal to or less than two hundred fifty percent (250%) of the federal poverty guidelines (Refer to Federal HHS Guidelines). These guidelines must be multiplied by 2.5 in order to meet the 250% requirement), unless the applicant submits a written request for the home study to be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency or institution.  Applicants whose total gross income exceeds two hundred and fifty percent (250%) of the federal poverty guidelines will be referred to a list of licensed child-placing agencies (Refer to Kentucky Licensed Private Adoption Agencies) that can complete their home study.



Central Office Staff: The SSW:

  1. Receives, records, and maintains all adoption petitions filed within Kentucky;
  2. Requests appropriate reports from local DCBS offices or private agencies, regarding types of petitions filed;
  3. Enters all independent or private adoptions information into iTWIST;
  4. Maintains all iTWIST cases and court documentation through completion of the case;
  5. Reviews all petitions to ensure the requirements for the filing of an adoption petition have been met;
  6. Sends an error letter to the attorney and court of jurisdiction for any adoption petition filed in error;
  7. Mails a letter and Independent Non-Relative Adoption Packet to the attorney for the petitioner, in cases where secretarial approval is required; 1
  8. Notifies the court of jurisdiction when a petition is filed prior to secretarial approval;
  9. Seals and transfers all independent and private adoption cases, which have been completed or dismissed, to records management for archiving. 
  10. Completes a court report, criminal background check and child abuse registry check in response to relative independent adoption petition;
  11. Contacts the prospective adoptive parent or parents and explains the department’s interest in the adoption and responsibility for making the report to the court;
  12. Has at least one (1) face to face contact (either in the office or the petitioner’s home) with the adopting parent and the child;
  13. Discusses the following issues with a potential relative adoptive placement although these cases may not require as full an investigation as other independent adoptive placements:
    1. The circumstances of the child being in the home;
    2. Implications of adoption for the child, the birth parents and the adoptive parent;
    3. Why the petitioner wants to adopt; and
    4. Plans the family has to tell the child about adoption, when he is not already aware of the adoptive plans;
  14. Notes the adjustment of the child and family to the living situation;
  15. May prepare an abbreviated report to the court for a relative adoption, including a disclaimer that the investigation resulting in this report was made to the extent of available staff of the Department for Community Based Services when no problems are noted;
  16. May make use of any of the agency’s forms normally used in non-relative independent adoptions and completes a report to the court when ordered when completing a relative adoption report;
  17. Files the report no later than ninety (90) days from the placement of the child or ninety (90) days after the filing date of the petition, whichever is longer. 

Practice Guidance

Relative independent adoption:

  • The petitioners are to provide verification of their marriage.
  • Any child able to converse is interviewed about his interests, activities and relationship with other members of the adoptive household; when he is aware of his adoptive status, his reaction to the adoption is discussed.
  • The abbreviated report on relative and step-parent independent adoptions includes the following information:
    • A brief discussion of the circumstances of the child’s placement;
    • General information on the petitioner, i.e., age, education, health and employment;
    • Brief information on the child;
    • A comment on the adjustment of the child and the adoptive parent or parents; and
    • Recommendations. 

Independent adoption non-relative:

  • Approval of the Commissioner to receive or place a child is not necessary in the following cases:
    • A child sought to be adopted by a step-parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, great grandparent, great aunt or great uncle; or
    • A child committed to and to be placed for adoption by any Kentucky licensed private adoption agency; 1 
    • The child was committed to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services by order of the district or circuit court.
  • To comply with the statute, the DPP-187 Independent Adoption Application is processed in the case of cousins or more distantly related adopting parents.

Contingencies and Clarifications

  • If any local staff receive an adoption petition directly from the court, they should forward  the petition to central office for processing prior to taking any action on the case. 
  • If any local staff is assigned an adoptive task from central office and feels the case has  been assigned in error, they should staff the case with central office.
  • If local staff receive a request from another state regarding adoption, it should be referred  to Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).  


  1. An Independent Non-Relative Adoption Packet consists of :
    • The DPP-187, Independent Adoption Application;
    • The DPP-105, Medical Information on Child's Birth;
    • The DPP-190, Information to be Obtained from Proposed Adoptive Parent(s);
    • The DPP- 107, Health Information Required for Resource Home Applicants or Adult Household Members; and
    • The DPP- 108A, Health Information Required for Proposed Adoptive Parent(s).
    • These agencies having custody of children are responsible for planning and may proceed with any placement deemed to be in the best interest of the child. For children committed to any Kentucky licensed private adoption agency, the director of the appropriate agency is contacted regarding the child’s status and that agency’s position on the proposed independent placement.


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