Original Birth Certificates. Kentucky is a Restricted State. Kentucky-born adult adopted people do not have a right, upon request, to obtain their own original birth records. A court order is required.
Court/Adoption Records. Adult adopted people who are at least 21 years of age may ask to inspect the court adoption records. Inspection, however, is allowed only by court order or with birthparent consent. If consent is not already on file the court will refer the request to the state’s Adoption Services Branch, which is responsible for searching for birthparents to determine if they will consent to the release of information. That search may cost up to $250.00. If the birthparents cannot be found or are deceased, the court may nevertheless order the release or inspection of records.
Identifying Information. In general, the availability of identifying information is controlled by the court process to obtain information from court adoption records, which requires consent of birthparents to release the information. See, Court/Adoption Records above.
Descendant Rights. Kentucky law does not provide specific rights for descendants of an adopted person to obtain the adopted person’s birth record or identifying information. A court order is required. In Kentucky, birth records become public 100 years after a person’s date of birth.
Nuts! Kentucky law requires that the place of birth, hospital, or the name of the doctor or midwife cannot be listed on a post-adoptive birth record. In addition, Kentucky requires that “the new birth certificate shall show the residence of the adoptive parents as the birthplace of the child, and this shall be deemed for all legal purposes to be the birthplace of the child.”
Adult Adoption. Kentucky law provides for the adoption of adults. The person being adopted must be at least 18 years of age, whose consent is the only consent required for the adoption.
Kentucky Law: Vital Records and Birth Certificates
Relevant parts of Kentucky vital records law. The entire Kentucky vital records statute is available here.
213.051. Information reported by person who assumes custody of live-born infant of unknown parentage
(1) The person who assumes the custody of a live-born infant of unknown parentage shall report on a form and in a manner prescribed by the state registrar within five working days to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services the following information:
(a) The date and place of finding;
(b) Sex and approximate birth date of child;
(c) Name and address of the person or institution with which the child has been placed for care;
(d) Name given to the child by the custodian of the child; and
(e) Other data as required by the state registrar to complete a birth certificate.
(2) The place where the child was found shall be entered as the place of birth.
(3) A report registered under this section shall constitute the certificate of birth for the child.
(4) If the child is identified and a certificate of birth is found or obtained, the report registered under this section shall be placed in a special file and shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a Circuit Court.
213.066 Reports of adoptions and annulments or amendments of adoptions
(1) For each adoption decreed by a Circuit Court in the Commonwealth, the court shall require the preparation of a report of adoption on a form prescribed and furnished by the state registrar. The report shall include the facts necessary to establish a new certificate of birth of the person adopted and identify the order of adoption, and be certified by the clerk of the court.
(2) Information necessary to prepare the report of adoption shall be furnished by each petitioner for adoption or the petitioner’s attorney. The Department for Community Based Services or any other agency or person having knowledge of the facts shall supply the court with the additional information necessary to complete the report. The provision of the information shall be prerequisite to the issuance of a final decree in the matter by the court.
(3) If an adoption decree is amended or annulled, the clerk of the court shall prepare a report thereof which shall include the facts necessary to identify the original adoption report and the facts amended in the adoption decree necessary to properly amend the birth record.
(4) Not later than the fifteenth day of each calendar month or more frequently, the clerk of the court shall forward to the state registrar reports of decrees of adoption, annulments of adoption, and amendments of decrees of adoption which were entered in the preceding month, together with such related reports as the state registrar shall require.
(5) If the state registrar receives a report of adoption, annulment of adoption, or amendment of a decree of adoption for a person born outside this state, the state registrar shall forward the report to the state registrar in the state of birth. If the birth occurred in a foreign country and the child was not a citizen of the United States at the time of birth, the state registrar shall prepare a record of foreign birth as provided by KRS 213.056(2). If the child was born in Canada, the state registrar shall also send a copy of the report of adoption, annulment of adoption, or amendment of a decree of adoption to the appropriate registration authority in that country
213.071 Establishment of new birth certificate for person born in Commonwealth. Findings of paternity reported — Procedure when judgment or acknowledgment of paternity is reversed or modified — Copies of original birth certificate sealed — Birth certificate for adopted child
(1) The state registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in the Commonwealth when the state registrar receives the following:
(a) A report of adoption as provided in KRS 213.066 or a report of adoption prepared and filed in accordance with the laws of another state or foreign country or a certified copy of the decree of adoption, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth and to establish a new certificate of birth; or
(b) A request that a new certificate be established as prescribed by administrative regulation and the evidence as required by administrative regulation proving that the person has been legitimated, or that a court of competent jurisdiction has determined the paternity of the person, or that both parents have acknowledged the paternity of the person in which case the surname of the child shall be changed in accordance with KRS 213.046.
(2) If paternity is determined in a court action, the clerk shall report the findings of the court to the state registrar on forms prescribed and furnished for that purpose. The reports shall be made no later than the fifteenth of the month following the date of the order.
(3) If a new certificate is established, the actual place and date of birth shall be shown except in the case of adoption. If the adopted child is under eighteen (18) years of age, the birth certificate shall not contain any information revealing the child is adopted and shall show the adoptive parent or parents as the natural parent or parents of the child. The new birth certificate, when issued, shall not contain the place of birth, hospital, or name of the doctor or midwife. This information shall be given only by an order of the court in which the child was adopted. If the child was born in the Commonwealth, the new birth certificate shall show the residence of the adoptive parents as the birthplace of the child, and this shall be deemed for all legal purposes to be the birthplace of the child.
(4) The new certificate shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth in the files, and the original certificate of birth and the evidence of adoption, paternity determination, or paternity acknowledgment shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
(5) If any judgment under this section is reversed, amended, modified, or vacated in any particular, the clerk of the court shall notify the state registrar of the reversal or modification, and the state registrar shall make the changes, if any, in the records as may be necessary by the reversal or modification, or if the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity pursuant to KRS 213.046(4) is rescinded, the state registrar shall make the changes, if any, in the records as may be necessary by the reversal, modification, or rescission of the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
(6) If a new certificate of birth is established by the state registrar, all copies of the original certificate of birth on file shall be sealed.
(7) If no birth certificate is on file for an adopted child born in Kentucky, the state registrar shall prepare a certificate of birth in accordance with information furnished by the clerk of the Circuit Court which issued the adoption order. The state registrar shall furnish the clerks of the Circuit Courts the necessary forms to carry out the provisions of this section.
213.131 Inspection of records — Public records
(1) To protect the integrity of vital records, to insure their proper use, and to insure the efficient and proper administration of the system of vital statistics, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital records or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any record except as authorized by this chapter, by regulation, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Administrative regulations adopted by the cabinet shall provide for adequate standards of security and confidentiality of vital records and shall conform to subsection (4) of this section.
(2) The state registrar shall prepare annually an alphabetical list of all persons registered as born in the preceding year. The list shall show the person’s name, the mother’s maiden name, and the date and county of birth. This list shall be an open record subject to inspection by the public upon request.
(3) The state registrar shall prepare annually an alphabetical list of all persons registered who die in the Commonwealth. This list shall show the name of the deceased and the date and county of death and shall be an open record subject to inspection by the public upon request.
(4) The Cabinet for Health and Family Services may authorize by regulation the disclosure of information contained in vital records for research and official administrative purposes, if:
(a) All information identifying persons named on the certificate is withheld or removed;
(b) The information is requested by a federal, state, county, or municipal agency of government which needs the data or information in the conduct of official duties; or
(c) The cabinet has prepared, in writing, a statement of the conditions under which the data or records will be used and received an agreement signed by a responsible agent of the research organization agreeing to meet with and conform to the conditions.
(5) If one hundred (100) years have elapsed after the date of birth, or fifty (50) years have elapsed after the date of death, the records of these events in the custody of the state registrar shall become public records and information shall be made available in accordance with regulations which shall provide for continued safekeeping of the records.
Kentucky Law: Court and Adoption Records
Relevant parts of Kentucky adoption law related to court records and information. The entire Kentucky adoption statute is available here.
199.525 Dissemination of post-adoption information about medical or genetic condition affecting an adopted person
(1) If the cabinet receives written information from the biological parent or adult biological sibling of an adopted person or a provider of medical services concerning a physician-verified medical or genetic condition which has affected or may affect the physical or mental health of genetically-related persons, the cabinet shall make a diligent effort to notify the adoptive parent if the adopted person is a minor, the adult adopted person, or the adult adoptable person in order to transmit the health information. For the purposes of this section, “adoptable person” means a person for whom the court has terminated the parental rights of both biological parents but who has not been adopted.
(2) The cabinet shall submit the health information to the clerk of the Circuit Court which issued the adoption order, and the clerk shall place the health information in the adoption case file.
(3) If a child-placing agency or the court receives health information, it shall notify and transmit the information to the cabinet.
199.570. Adoption records confidential — Exception — New birth certificate
(1) (a) The files and records of the court during adoption proceedings shall not be open to inspection by persons other than parties to the proceedings, their attorneys, and representatives of the cabinet except under order of the court expressly permitting inspection.
(b) Upon the entry of the final order in the case, the clerk shall place all papers and records in the case in a suitable envelope which shall be sealed, or a digital file with restricted access, and shall not be open for inspection by any person except on written order of the court, except that upon the written consent of the biological parents and upon written order of the Circuit Court all papers and records including all files and records of the Circuit Court during proceedings for termination of parental rights provided in KRS 625.108 shall be open for inspection to any adult adopted person who applies in person or in writing to the Circuit Court as provided in KRS 199.572. Health information received pursuant to KRS 199.525 shall be added to the adoption case file. The clerk of the Circuit Court shall set up a separate docket and order book for adoption cases and these files and records shall be kept locked.
(c) No person having charge of any adoption records shall disclose the names of any parties appearing in such records or furnish any copy of any such records to any person or other entity that does not meet the requirements of KRS 199.572, except upon order of the court which entered the judgment of adoption.
(2) After entry of the adoption judgment, the clerk of the Circuit Court shall promptly report to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services of Kentucky full information as called for on forms furnished by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, necessary to make a new birth certificate conforming to the standard birth certificate form. Upon receipt of this information, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services shall cause to be made a new record of the birth and it shall be filed with the original certificate, and the original certificate shall be stamped with the words, “CONFIDENTIAL — subject to copy and/or inspection only on written order of the court.”
(3) The new certificate shall set forth the new name, if any, of the adopted child, the names of the adoptive parents, and such other information deemed necessary in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in issuing of birth certificates. If the adopted child is under eighteen (18) years of age, the birth certificate shall not contain any information revealing the child is adopted and shall show the adoptive parent or parents as the biological parent or parents of the child. If requested by the adoptive parents, the new birth certificate when issued shall contain the location of birth, hospital, and name of doctor or midwife. This information should be given only by an order of the court in which the child was adopted. The new birth certificate shall recite the residence of the adoptive parents as the birthplace of the child and this shall be deemed for all legal purposes to be the birthplace of the child. If no birth certificate is on file for a child born in Kentucky, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services shall prepare a certificate of birth in accordance with the information furnished the cabinet by the clerk of the Circuit Court which issued the adoption order. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services shall furnish to the clerks of the Circuit Courts the necessary forms to carry out the provisions of this section. If the child was born in another state, the order of adoption shall be forwarded to the division of vital statistics of the state concerned to be changed in accordance with the laws of such state. If the child was born in a foreign country, the report of adoption shall be returned to the attorney or agency handling the adoption for submission to the appropriate federal agency.
199.572 Inspection of adoption records — Limitations
(1) At the time the biological parents give up the child for adoption, they shall be asked by the cabinet whether they consent to the inspection of the adoption records, to personal contact by the child, or to both when he becomes an adult. If consent is then given, it can later be revoked. If consent is withheld at that time, the biological parents may give consent at any later time. The initial written statement of consent or refusal of consent to inspection of records and personal contact shall be filed with the Circuit Court not later than the date of finalization of the adoption proceedings. When a written consent is on file, the records shall be available to the adult adopted person, upon his request therefor in writing.
(2) When any adult adopted person applies in person or in writing to the Circuit Court for authorization to inspect all papers and records pertaining to the adoption proceedings of that adult adopted person as provided in KRS 199.570(1), and the biological parents have previously refused consent to inspection of records and to personal contact, the court may, if satisfied as to the identity of the adult adopted person, authorize the adult adopted person to inspect the papers and records if written consent is obtained from the biological parents identified on the adult adopted person’s original birth certificate.
(3) The Circuit Court shall, within seven (7) working days of the receipt of the request, direct the secretary of the cabinet to notify each biological parent identified on the adult adopted person’s original birth certificate that the person has applied to the court for information identifying the biological parent. Within six (6) months of receiving the notice of the request of the adult adopted person, the secretary of the cabinet shall make complete and reasonable efforts to notify each biological parent identified on the adult adopted person’s original birth certificate. The secretary may charge a reasonable fee not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) to the adult adopted person for making this search. Every child-caring facility and child-placing agency in the Commonwealth shall cooperate with the secretary in his efforts to notify these biological parents.
(4) If the cabinet utilizes the services of another person or entity to perform a search under subsection (3) of this section, the cabinet shall enter into a formal contract with that person or entity. A person or entity contracted to perform a search shall be licensed under the provisions of KRS Chapter 329A.
(5) The notification of the biological parents shall not be by mail and shall be by personal and confidential contact by the cabinet. The notification shall be done without disclosing the identity of the adult adopted person. The personal and confidential contact with the biological parents shall be evidenced by filing with the Circuit Court an affidavit of notification executed by the person who notified each parent and certifying each parent was given the following information:
(a) The nature of the information requested by the adult adopted person;
(b) The date of the request of the adult adopted person;
(c) The right of the biological parent to file, within sixty (60) days of receipt of the notice, an affidavit with the Circuit Court stating that the adult adopted person shall be authorized to inspect all papers and records pertaining to his adoption proceedings;
(d) The right of the biological parent to file at any time an affidavit authorizing the adult adopted person to inspect all papers and records pertaining to his adoption proceedings; and
(e) The right of a biological parent to file an affidavit with the Circuit Court stating that all papers and records pertaining to the adoption proceedings of the adult adopted person shall not be open for inspection by the adult adopted person.
(6) The adult adopted person shall not be authorized to inspect the papers and records pertaining to his or her adoption proceedings unless those biological parents identified on the original birth certificate agree in writing to that inspection.
(7) If after diligent and reasonable effort, the secretary of the cabinet certifies that both biological parents identified in the original birth certificate are deceased or the secretary is unable to locate said parents, then a judge of the Circuit Court, upon motion of the adult adopted person, may order that all papers and records of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and those of the Circuit Court pertaining to the adoption shall be open for inspection to the adult adopted person. In any case, the court shall order that only identifying information about the biological parents be shared with the adult adopted person.
199.575 Procedure whereby adopted person may seek to locate preadoptive sibling
In situations where a preadoptive brother or sister relationship existed, and one (1) or more of these siblings was then adopted, the following procedures shall be followed on an inquiry by one (1) or more of the siblings to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services seeking information about his brother or sister:
(1) In all cases, an adopted person eighteen (18) years of age or older or a preadoptive sibling eighteen (18) years of age or older of an adopted person may file information concerning himself, his present location, and his known antecedents with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, stating his interest in being reunited with his preadoptive siblings and authorizing the cabinet to release such information to his preadoptive siblings who may make similar inquiry.
(2) In any case in which a person eighteen (18) years of age or older requests information about or expresses a desire in being reunited with a preadoptive sibling, the cabinet shall first determine whether such sibling has made similar inquiry pursuant to subsection (1) of this section. If the sibling has previously authorized release of information about himself, the cabinet shall release the information to the sibling making inquiry.
Kentucky Law: Adoption Generally
Relevant portions of Kentucky’s general adoption law. Kentucky provides its statutes only as PDFs. The entire Kentucky adoption statute is available here.
199.470. Petition for adoption of child — Parties — Residence requirement — Approval of secretary — Exceptions
(1) Any person who is eighteen (18) years of age and who is a resident of this state or who has resided in this state for twelve (12) months next before filing may file a petition for leave to adopt a child in the Circuit Court of the county in which the petitioner resides.
(2) If the petitioner is married, the husband or wife shall join in a petition for leave to adopt a child unless the petitioner is married to a biological parent of the child to be adopted, except that if the court finds the requirement of a joint petition would serve to deny the child a suitable home, the requirement may be waived.
(3) If a child is placed for adoption by the cabinet, by an agency licensed by the cabinet, or with written approval by the secretary of the cabinet, the petition may be filed at the time of placement. In all other adoptions, the petition shall not be filed until the child has resided continuously in the home of the petitioner for at least ninety (90) days immediately prior to the filing of the adoption petition.
(4) No petition for adoption shall be filed unless prior to the filing of the petition the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by a child-placing institution or agency, or by the cabinet, or the child has been placed with written approval of the secretary; but no approval shall be necessary in the case of:
(a) 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; however, the court in its discretion may order a report in accordance with KRS 199.510 and a background check as provided in KRS 199.473(8);
(b) A child received by the proposed adopting parent or parents from an agency without this state with the written consent of the secretary;
(c) A child adopted under the provisions of KRS 199.585(1); or
(d) A child who has been approved under KRS Chapter 615.
199.500. Consent to adoption
(1) An adoption shall not be granted without the voluntary and informed consent, as defined in KRS 199.011, of the living parent or parents of a child born in lawful wedlock or the mother of the child born out of wedlock, or the father of the child born out of wedlock if paternity is established in a legal action or if an affidavit is filed stating that the affiant is the father of the child, except that the consent of the living parent or parents shall not be required if:
(a) The parent or parents have been adjudged mentally disabled and the judgment shall have been in effect for not less than one (1) year prior to the filing of the petition for adoption;
(b) The parental rights of the parents have been terminated under KRS Chapter 625;
(c) The living parents are divorced and the parental rights of one (1) parent have been terminated under KRS Chapter 625 and consent has been given by the parent having custody and control of the child; or
(d) The biological parent has not established parental rights as required by KRS 625.065.
(2) A minor parent who is a party defendant may consent to an adoption but a guardian ad litem for the parent shall be appointed.
(3) In the case of a child twelve (12) years of age or older, the consent of the child shall be given in court. The court in its discretion may waive this requirement.
(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, an adoption may be granted without the consent of the biological living parents of a child if it is pleaded and proved as a part of the adoption proceedings that any of the provisions of KRS 625.090 exist with respect to the child.
(5) An adoption shall not be granted or a consent for adoption be held valid if the consent for adoption is given prior to seventy-two (72) hours after the birth of the child. A voluntary and informed consent may be taken at seventy-two (72) hours after the birth of the child and shall become final and irrevocable seventy-two (72) hours after it is signed.
199.520. Judgment — Prerequisites — Orders — Name and legal status of child — Health history and other nonidentifying information of biological parents and relatives to be given to adoptive parents
(1) After hearing the case, the court shall enter a judgment of adoption, if it finds that the facts stated in the petition were established; that all legal requirements, including jurisdiction, relating to the adoption have been complied with; that the petitioners are of good moral character, of reputable standing in the community and of ability to properly maintain and educate the child; and that the best interest of the child will be promoted by the adoption and that the child is suitable for adoption. In the judgment, the name of the child shall be changed to conform with the prayer of the petition. The judgment and all orders required to be entered and recorded in the order book, including the caption, shall contain only the names of the petitioners and the proposed adopted name of the child, without any reference to its former name or the names of its birth parents.
(2) Upon entry of the judgment of adoption, from and after the date of the filing of the petition, the child shall be deemed the child of petitioners and shall be considered for purposes of inheritance and succession and for all other legal considerations, the natural child of the parents adopting it the same as if born of their bodies. Upon granting an adoption, all legal relationship between the adopted child and the biological parents shall be terminated except the relationship of a biological parent who is the spouse of an adoptive parent.
(3) The clerk of the court shall notify the cabinet of any action of the court with respect to entering a judgment granting an adoption, the amendment of an adoption, or the denial or dismissal of a petition for adoption.
(4)(a) The health history and other nonidentifying background information of biological parents and blood relatives of the adopted person, in writing, on a standardized form, provided by the cabinet, if known, shall be given by the cabinet or child-placing agency which has the information to the adoptive parents and to the Circuit Court not later than the date of finalization of the adoption proceedings. This information shall include the results of any tests for HIV or hepatitis A, B, and C; and
(b) The information provided for in paragraph (a) of this subsection, if known, shall, upon the request in person or in writing of the adult adopted person be made available in writing to that person. The information shall not be made available if it is of a nature that would tend to identify the biological parents of the adopted person except as provided in KRS 199.570 and 199.572.
199.540. Period after which adoption not subject to attack
After the expiration of one (1) year from the date of the entry of judgment of adoption, the validity thereof shall not be subject to attack in any action, collateral or direct, by reason of any irregularity or failure to comply with KRS 199.470 to 199.520, either procedurally or substantively.
199.550. Disposition of child if adoption not adjudged
If for any reason whatsoever a petition for adoption of a minor child be dismissed or the judgment of adoption annulled, the following disposition shall be made of the child:
(1) If the child is, or was, prior to the filing of the petition, in the care, custody, and control of the cabinet, individual, institution, or agency, then the child shall be returned to the custody of the cabinet or such individual, institution, or agency;
(2) Otherwise the court shall certify the case to the juvenile session of the District Court of the county where the adoption proceeding is pending for appropriate action and disposition. Said District Court shall advise the cabinet of the pendency of such action.
199.585. Recognition of foreign adoptions — Registration in Commonwealth —When KRS 199.470 petition required
(1) The Commonwealth of Kentucky shall recognize a decree, judgment, or final order of adoption issued by a court or other governmental authority with appropriate jurisdiction in a foreign country when the child to be adopted has been approved for United States citizenship, or as otherwise provided by federal law.
(2) Upon presentation of an original decree, judgment, or final order of adoption issued by a court or other governmental authority with appropriate jurisdiction in a foreign country, the secretary or his or her designee shall issue, within thirty (30) days, a certified notice that the foreign adoption is registered in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The secretary or his or her designee may require a translated copy if the original decree, judgment, or final order is not in English. The cabinet shall maintain all records and notices of foreign adoptions in a manner similar to other adoption records.
(3) A petition for adoption under KRS 199.470 shall be required for a child born outside the United States without a decree, judgment, or final order of adoption issued by a court or other governmental authority with appropriate jurisdiction in a foreign country, or for any child born outside of the United States who does not qualify for United States citizenship upon entry into the United States.
Kentucky Law: Adult Adoption
The following is the entirety of Kentucky’s statute related to the adoption of adults.
405.390. Adoption of an adult
An adult person over eighteen (18) years of age may be adopted in the same manner as provided by law for the adoption of a child and with the same legal effect, except that his consent alone to such adoption shall be required.