Keith D. Elston, Attorney at Law
Keith Doniphan Elston
Attorney at Law


(859) 225-2348

Free Initial Consultations


    Adoption is the legal process of changing the legal parents of a child.  However, adoption is the last resort for the family law system, only to be granted when it appears that there is no hope that the birth parents will be able to supply a safe and stable home for the child.

    Before a court can order an adoption it must find that the birth parents are "unfit" to be parents; or that the birth parents are willing to knowingly and voluntarily terminate their parental rights; and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.


    Adoption is permanent.  It cannot be undone unless the legal process is flawed.  Adopted children are treated in the law the same as children born to the adoptive parents.  Adoption may make it easier (or possible) for you to add your adopted child to your health insurance.  Adopted children are entitled to Social Security Benefits based on the adoptive parents' earnings records.

    Adoption is time consuming and expensive.  It requires the assistance of attorneys with expertise in adoption (adoption should not be attempted without the assistance of an expert attorney).  Adoption terminates the right of the child to collect benefits or to inherit from the birth parents.  The court process for adoption can be difficult in that it may require you to prove very negative things about the birth parents in order to prove that they are unfit. 

    Under Kentucky law, the best interests of the child are determined by the court, considering each birth parent and any de facto custodian.  The court considers all relevant factors, including the wishes of the child's parents and any de facto custodian; the wishes of the child; the child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community; the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; domestic violence; the extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, and supported by any de facto custodian; and the circumstances under which the child is placed or allowed to remain in the custody of a de facto custodian, including whether the parent now seeking custody was previously prevented from doing so as a result of domestic violence and whether the child was placed with a de facto custodian to allow the parent now seeking custody to seek employment, work, or attend school. However, the abandonment of the family residence by a custodial parent shall not be considered where that party was physically harmed or was seriously threatened with physical harm by his or her spouse, when there was a causal relationship to the abandonment. 

    A de facto custodian is a relative or other caregiver other than a biological parent who has been

    (1) the primary caregiver, and

    (2) the primary financial supporter of a child,

    (3) for at least six months, if the child is under the age of three, or one year, if the child is three years or older. 

    A court has to make that determination, based on the individual meeting all three of these conditions.  Once the court has made this determination, the de facto custodian has a legal right to be heard by a Kentucky court in a custody case. 

    Without de facto custodian status, a relative or other caregiver cannot seek custody of a child without first proving that the biological parents are unfit to serve as parents.


    This is an advertisement for legal services.  It is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship is formed until a representation agreement is signed and fees or retainers paid.