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Attorney Jennifer R. Dusing is an experienced northern Kentucky adoption lawyer. Although adoption law can be a very complicated area of family law, as the statutes dealing with adoption can be strict and precise, Ms. Dusing strives to make adoptions as simple and joyous as possible for her clients and their families. Ms. Dusing has not only the knowledge and understanding of Kentucky adoption law necessary to make the adoption process run smoothly, but she also has a passion for adoption that has carried over into her personal life, as she and her husband chose to expand their own family through adoption, adopting their son in 2010.

Although adoption law is a category all its own within family law, there are many different types of adoption. In all adoptions under Kentucky law, no matter what type, the adoptive family (the Petitioners) must have resided in Kentucky for at least twelve months prior to filing a Petition for Adoption in Kentucky. Additionally, the Petition must be filed in the county in which the adoptive parents reside. Beyond those and other basic statutory requirements, the statutes dealing with adoption differ slightly depending on the type of adoption. Ms. Dusing is skilled to handle the following types of adoption in Kentucky:

Private Agency Adoptions

Many families interested in adoption are now seeking the assistance of private adoption agencies. Oftentimes these adoption agencies are child placing agencies that will match adoptive parents with expecting birth parents prior to the birth of the child. Other times these agencies focus more on foster parenting and foster-to-adopt situations. If the agency is licensed by the state of Kentucky, it can place the child with the adoptive family, allowing a Petition for Adoption to be filed at the time of placement, otherwise the Petition cannot be filed until the child has resided in the home for at least 90 days.

Foster parent and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Adoptions

Jennifer Dusing handles many foster-adoption cases in northern Kentucky counties and truly enjoys getting to know the families adopting through the foster care system.  In foster to adopt situations, foster families may, in certain cases, have the opportunity to adopt their foster children if the birth parents’ parental rights have been terminated by a court and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services consents to the adoption by the Petitioners. Ms. Dusing works closely with the private agency, if there is one, and with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to make sure the adoption process is filed and finalized in an efficient and timely manner.  Ms. Dusing also accepts the state subsidies for foster parent adoptions and does not expect payment directly from prospective adoptive parents when they have been approved through the state for this subsidy.  If you are a foster parent interested in adoption, please contact our office if you have questions about these subsidy benefits or the adoption process.

Step-parent, Grandparent, or other Relative Adoptions

In Kentucky, a Petition for Adoption cannot be filed unless the child was placed for adoption by the Cabinet or a licensed child placing agency, or was placed with the approval of the state, unless the adoptive parent (the Petitioner) is related to the child as his or her stepparent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, great grandparent, great aunt, or great uncle. If one of these relationships is met, the process can be much simpler in that an agency is not required and a home study is not required. The Petition for Adoption can be filed after the child has resided continuously with the Petitioner for 90 days. If the birth parents’ parental rights have not been terminated by a court, their consent is required, or the Petitioner may ask the court to involuntarily terminate the birth parents’ parental rights within the adoption proceeding if certain factors are met.

Independent Private Placement Adoptions

Independent private placement adoptions allow adoptive parents to avoid the expense of adoption agencies by privately and independently matching up with a birth mother or birth parents wishing to place their child for adoption. Even though an adoption agency is not used in the placement of the child, a home study is still required and written approval by the state of Kentucky is required before a Petition for Adoption can be filed. Jennifer Dusing has experience with the extensive paperwork necessary in attempt to gain approval from the state. Once written approval is received from the state, the Petition can be filed in the county in which the adoptive parents reside. In these cases the idea is that the birth parents will consent to the adoption by signing a Voluntary and Informed Consent to Adoption, and their parental rights will be terminated upon entry of the adoption judgment.

International adoptions and Re-finalizations

As all parents of internationally adopted children know, international adoption is often unpredictable and constantly changing, depending on the country chosen. Russia, South Korea, Ethiopia, China, Ukraine, Thailand, India, Taiwan, Mexico, Columbia, and Haiti are among many countries that have had strong adoption programs in recent years. The adoption is usually finalized abroad pursuant to the originating country’s laws and must be either re-finalized or registered in the U.S. upon return with the child. Kentucky law allows for the registration of foreign adoption in situations where the child enters the United States under an IR-3 visa and has been approved for United States citizenship upon entry into the United States. Even in these cases, however, there are benefits to re-finalizing which should be discussed. In all cases in which a child is not approved for U.S. citizenship upon entry into the country, a petition for adoption must be filed after the child has resided in the home of the adoptive parents for at least 90 days consecutively. Jennifer Dusing has substantial experience with international adoption, both as an adoptive parent and as an adoption attorney.

Same sex adoptions

Since Kentucky law now recognizes same sex marriages, as a result of the landmark decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, married same sex couples can now jointly petition Kentucky courts to adopt children together. Married same sex couples can now also file for a step-parent adoption when only one of the couple is the legal or biological parent of the child or children. For years many same sex couples in Kentucky established families by adopting children together or through assisted reproductive technology (ART), yet were placed in the difficult decision of deciding which of the two parents would be afforded all of the legal rights of being the sole legal parent, as both could not be granted those rights in Kentucky. Now, if married, same sex couples can both be identified or adjudged as the legal parents of the child or children. For those couples who were never married but established families before being granted the same rights to marry as opposite sex couples, it may be possible to establish custody rights for the non-legal parent through a shared custody agreement or co-parenting agreement which outlines the intention of the parties in co-parenting the child or children.

Adult Adoptions

Much more uncommon, but just as rewarding are the adoptions of adults over the age of 18. Kentucky law allows for the adoption of an adult person in the same manner provided by law and with the same legal effect as the adoption of a child. In these situations the adoptive parent is still the Petitioner in the case, and the only consent that is required is that of the adult to be adopted.

American Academy of Adoption Attorneys