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Can same-sex couples adopt children in Kentucky?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2023 | Family Law |

Same-sex issue are back in the headlines, and this may make LGBTQ+ couples wonder whether they can adopt in our state. The answer is not exactly straightforward.

LGBTQ+ adoption in Kentucky

Our state has no explicit legal LGBTQ+ adoption protections, which would prohibit same-sex adoption discrimination. It also does not have any laws that specifically allow for same-sex adoption discrimination, like if the adoptions conflicts with strongly held religious convictions. Accordingly, this means that whether or not you experience same-sex adoption discrimination rests largely with whoever you work with for the adoption.

Married versus unmarried adoption

To be clear, however, the Kentucky Revised Statutes allow any adult to file an adoption petition. If you are married, you must file a joint adoption petition, and this applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. And, any married person can adopt their stepchild as well, regardless of their LGBTQ+ status.

Unmarried couples do not have this same right. Specifically, stepparent adoptions are only allowed between married couples. This applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples. This can create some unique issues for couples if there is a death, separation or medical emergency.

The challenges of LGBTQ+ adoption

Even though both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples can adopt in Kentucky, same-sex married couples may face barriers. This is because some private adoption agencies place children based on religious standards that may exclude LGBTQ+ prospective parents. You may even find that state officials, like judges and social workers, are biased or openly hostile to LGBTQ+ prospective parents.

So where does it stand?

While LGBTQ+ prospective parents may face some barriers that heterosexual prospective parents will not. Some adoption agencies are supportive of LGBTQ+ prospective parents, and federal law may offer some protections as well.