It doesn’t matter if you recently found out you are pregnant, planning to adopt, or looking into foster care, you might have questions and, reasonably, you might be interested in finding some answers. Where do you go to find these answers? This question alone can be confusing and overwhelming. Sifting through websites, articles, and guides can be very time-consuming, and let’s face it, time isn’t something we always have on our side. In this Kentucky guide, you can find lots of useful information that might help you save quite a bit of time.
Kentucky is such a beautiful state with its rolling hills, mountains, big cities, and rural country areas. It’s known for its bluegrass, horses, and bourbon but can be so much more than that. With all of the lakes, caves, and national parks, you will find lots to do and lots to see, possibly making your ideal place to raise a family. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2018, there were over 9,000 children in foster care with over 2,000 of them ready for adoption.
A wonderful resource to help you get started comes from KY FACES, a website with Kentucky’s Cabinet of Health and Family Services. This site can be a wonderful resource to find information on adoption, in general, as well as foster, international, and even independent adoptions. You can also find links for testimonials, FAQs, and a textbox to submit inquiries to help get your metaphorical adoption ball rolling. I recommend you bookmark this site to return to when needed.
As an expectant parent, there are probably lots of things running through your mind. Where do you even begin? Luckily, there are lots of resources for expectant parents, such as agency guides, to help you navigate through all the facets of adoption: searching for adoptive parents, contacting an attorney, or even finding a support group. You can find information here to get you started
As an expectant parent, access to information on adoption agencies, attorneys, and even laws for your state are vital. You might not know exactly what avenue you want to go down right now, and you don’t have to. It is important to know, though, that you have options. Attorneys and adoption agencies will both be able to help you with questions you might have. They can help take the guesswork out for you. They can help you get the information you need that’s both accurate and up to date. Adoption.com has a searchable agency directory which can be specified by state. You can also search for city and county attorneys here.
Let’s talk about support systems. Having a good support system is something you will want to add to your list. It’s always helpful to be able to talk about emotions, options, questions, or just anything else that might come up along the way. Support systems aren’t only helpful until your adoption is complete, but for years to come. Forums are also a great place to discuss things that might be going through your head and your heart. Maybe you have questions that only someone who has been where you are can answer. In this case, you can schedule a call to speak to a birth mother. Also, search for groups on Facebook. Everyone has different expectations when it comes to childbirth and placement. Reading through other expectant parents’ experiences can help you decide what would work for you and what might not work. This can be a great place to find support, and you might even make new friends during this time in your life.
There are places for you to search for possible adoptive parents, read through profiles, and find potential matches. Make a list of what you are looking for in potential adoptive parents. Use this time to really think about what you are looking for and the expectations you might have. Write down the questions you might want to ask possible adoptive parents, anything that comes to mind. There are rarely questions too big or too small.
Whatever reason has brought you here, you have some interest in adoption and probably want information. As you are researching, you might be inundated with everything that’s out there. As I mentioned before, you might be confused if you want contacts with attorneys, agencies, or both. Maybe you don’t even know what avenue you want to travel down. Looking into international adoption, private adoption, or even fostering children can help inform your decisions moving forward.
International adoptions are when an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents for a child of foreign nationality. Independent adoptions are when a child is placed with already determined hopeful adoptive parents (perhaps the expectant parent knew these hopeful adoptive parents previously or found them on her own). In the state of Kentucky, there are two types of independent adoptions: relative and nonrelative. Fostering, on the other hand, is when you take in children with the overarching goal of reuniting the children with their biological family. A lot of times, children become available to adopt through foster care when parental rights have been terminated. Cabinet for Health and Family Services website for Kentucky has information on all of the types I have mentioned. If you find you are ready to move forward and want to submit an inquiry, you can do that here.
As I mentioned in the expectant parent section, you will probably want access to either an adoption agency, attorney, or both. This is a time that you will want to keep a list of questions and thoughts—those things that pop into your head at random moments.
There might be things that stress you out during this process, but it doesn’t all have to feel that way. Something that could be fun and exciting to help you get the ball rolling is creating your parent profile. There are lots of examples of profiles here that you can check out. Another fun thing to make is a scrapbook which you can show at your home study. I would suggest you make it fun and informational, highlighting the things that set you apart from other families.
Home studies and home visits might cause some anxiety, but they don’t have to. The purpose of a home study is to meet you and confirm your household is safe and secure. Make sure your smoke detectors work, your medicines are locked up, and cleaning supplies are placed in a safe spot out of reach of children, preferably locked up as well. Social workers who perform house checks are professionals; they’ve most likely been in and out of hundreds of houses. You do not have to scrub your grout with a toothbrush. They know what lived in looks like compared to what dirty looks like. Try to relax and let them see you and your family in your natural atmosphere.
There are many children all over the United States who are available for adoption. You can search and view adoptable children’s profiles on the state’s website. There are children of all ages in need of a forever home, but especially older children. You can also search through photolistings on Adoption.com. Be ready because these children’s stories can pull on your heartstrings!
t A strong support system is highly recommended to help get you through these days, weeks, and years. Kentucky has wonderful support programs to help. There are also forums and Facebook groups you can take part in. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local CFS Office. They can help you find an appropriate group for you and your family.
According to the CHFS website, foster care is a temporary home for a child or children. The ultimate goal is that these children are reunited with their birth families. A lot of times, these children may have been exposed to trauma, and you will have to work with the birth family, social services, courts, and medical professionals to help these children work through these difficult emotions. Usually, your assigned social worker will have a plan for the child and her or his birth family. You can help the child and the family work through their plan. Sometimes, if the courts feel it necessary to terminate parental rights, the children can become available for adoption.
When registering to become a foster parent, you will receive information on training sessions in your area. There is usually an informational meeting to share the basic information. This meeting will help you decide if you want to continue on and go through the training sessions. These training sessions are very beneficial; you can learn so much. No matter what stage of parenting you’re in, it can help, even if you get to the end and decide fostering isn’t something for you and your family.
The training sessions are designed to walk you through each step of the process from beginning to end. You will have the opportunity to hear from people who have been through similar experiences. They can walk you through what to expect for home visits, what items you need to complete the application process, what to add for your security clearance, and so much more. You can gain insight into what to expect when talking with birth parents, social workers, and even what might go on during court proceedings. You can make new friends that might feel like family.
We talked about something fun to work on in the adoptive parent section such as a scrapbook that highlights your family. You will learn more about this during your training sessions, but you can use this scrapbook when you have your home study or when children come to stay with you. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the children and tell them a little bit about yourself and your family. What do you like to do when you have free time? Do you have children? Do you have pets? Do you like to travel? Have fun with this!
A wonderful resource from the KY FACES website is this Fall in Love with Foster Care and Adoption handbook. You can find contact information for almost anyone you might possibly need. You can also find answers to questions that you might have. There is information for each DCBS office in the state along with the regions they serve. And there is contact information for support groups, tax time suggestions, and weblinks as well.
Remember, this journey is yours. Whatever path brought you here, it’s a part of your journey. There will always be ups and downs no matter which direction you are coming from. You have people; you have resources, and you have opportunity. Hopefully, this guide has given you a starting point and a place to turn as you find your way through each step.
Lisa Kersey is the wife to Chris and mother to Bentlee and Lainey Grace, both surprises, one through adoption and one through childbirth. A former Librarian turned Administrative Assistant, she’s a reader, writer, planner, and organizer. Just don’t judge her organizational skills by the looks of her house. She loves keto, CrossFit, family time, and girl’s night out. She’s a talker, has a story to tell, and will tell anyone who will listen.