This memorandum is in response to your request in which you asked this office to render
a legal opinion as to the effect of an adoption decree which has been reversed by
the State Court of Appeals and approved by the State Supreme Court. You specifically
asked whether the adoption was actually completed for entitlement purposes. Additionally,
you asked if the adoption was completed, when was the adoption reversed, for the purpose
of terminating child's benefits.
The relevant facts are as follows. Katherine V~, the widow of the insured and the
maternal grandmother of Sean A. T~, the child claimant, petitioned the Webster Circuit
Court of Kentucky for his adoption. The Circuit Court, on October 4, 1984, terminated
the natural father's, Elvis A. T~, parental rights and on October 30, 1984, granted
the adoption. Mr. on October 9, 1984, appealed the Circuit Court's decree to the State
Court of Appeals. The State Court of Appeals, on December 20, 1985, reversed the Circuit
Court's order terminating parental rights and its order granting the adoption. Ms.
V~ petitioned the Court of Appeals for a reheating. The Court of Appeals denied the
motion for reheating on February 14, 1986. The Supreme Court of Kentucky, on April
23, 1986, denied review of the Court of Appeals' decision.
For reasons hereinafter stated, it is our opinion that the adoption was never completed,
and in this regard, the child claimant has never been entitled to child's insurance
Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) §199.560 provides as follows:
Any party to any adoption proceeding shall have the same right of appeal to the Court
of Appeals of Kentucky as in other equity actions.
Thus, the October 30, 1984, order granting the adoption was only an interlocutory
order. Inasmuch as the Appeals Court reversed the Circuit Court's order, the adoption
had no effect. In other words, the Circuit Court order granting adoption should be
treated as if it never took place. That is, the child is not the adopted child of