You finally get the call — it’s time to travel to the hospital where your baby is being born. You pack your bags and rush to the birth mother’s state, excited to start your next chapter with the newest addition to your family. But before you take your new baby home, there’s just one more requirement you have to satisfy: the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC).
All interstate adoptions must comply with the ICPC, an agreement between all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands that regulates interstate adoption placements. The ICPC process might seem burdensome, but it’s a crucial part of the adoption process. If you are adopting across state lines, here are the top five things you need to understand about ICPC:
- Your ICPC paperwork must be approved before you can leave the state where the baby is born. When you travel to the hospital when the baby is born, your ICPC paperwork will be submitted to the baby’s state (or the “sending state”) ICPC office. Once the adoption is approved there, your ICPC paperwork will be sent to your home state (the “receiving state”) for approval. You will need to wait in the sending state with your child until you are notified that your ICPC paperwork has been approved by the receiving state. Once all of your ICPC paperwork has been approved, you are free to return home with your baby.
- ICPC can take 7–10 business days or longer to process. This means you should plan to stay in your baby’s birth state for at least two weeks while you wait to be approved to return home with your child. Make arrangements to be away from home for several weeks, and try to be flexible as you wait for approval.
- You should not contact the ICPC office during your wait. You will be eager to take your baby to his or her new home and will naturally want to check the status of your paperwork, but you should leave it to your adoption professional to coordinate contact with the ICPC offices. You will be notified immediately when you are approved to travel across state lines.
- Keeping your home study current can help ensure a smooth ICPC process. The process cannot begin until your home study is complete, so it’s important to have it done well in advance and be mindful of expiration dates. It is also important to note that your home study will need to meet requirements for both the sending and receiving states. Working with a national agency can help you ensure that your ICPC paperwork will be approved no matter what state you adopt from.
- ICPC is legally mandatory in every adoption that takes place outside of your home state. If you don’t comply with ICPC, or if you cross state lines prior to receiving ICPC approval, it could put the adoption in jeopardy.
ICPC may seem confusing, overwhelming or inconvenient as you wait to return home as a family. Your adoption specialist or adoption attorney will help you through the ICPC process and ensure you meet all the necessary requirements — so all you’ll need to worry about is spending time with your new baby while the paperwork is processed.
How is ICPC travel funded? Like if an approved family member needs to travel to another state to pick up the child, who covers that cost? Department of Human Services or ICPC?
For private domestic adoptions, the adoptive family is responsible for all ICPC travel fees. Foster care state placement is different and varies between states. If you have other questions about ICPC the following references may be helpful: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/permanency/interjurisdictional/icpc/
I understand the purpose of ICPC but I don’t really understand what is being reviewed. Is it just making sure the home study was completed or is it about the babies health as well. I guess I don’t understand if ICPC is their own thing or is it something that has to go through DCS be approved. Thank you.
Hi, Matt — In most cases, ICPC reviews all aspects of your adoption, including your home study. It may also include information on the child’s social, medical and educational history, if applicable. Your personal adoption professional can probably answer your questions best, as they know your personal situation best. You can also read more about ICPC here: https://aphsa.org/AAICPC/AAICPC/icpc_faq_2.aspx.
My child is being adopted in n c durham advice please
Hi, Remika — We’d advise you to reach out to the adoption professional or lawyer handling your case for the specific advice you’re looking for. Good luck!
Do I need an attorney licensed in the baby’s home state or in my (the adoptive parents’) home state to file the paperwork? I assume I need someone in the baby’s state to file it, since that is the originating jurisdiction?
Hi, Kimber — Typically, the ICPC process starts in the baby’s state (the sending state), after an attorney or agency submits paperwork to the ICPC office. However, state laws and protocols can change, and we’re not legal experts, so we encourage you to speak with an adoption attorney to learn more about this process. Good luck!
My Granddaughter is in foster care i am the biological grandma the biological mom dont like me I passed everything is licensed for a ICPC but because the biological mom dont like me do she have final say or do children services wheres she in state custody
Hi, Kathleen — We are not a foster care organization, so we cannot provide advice for your situation. Please speak with your caseworker or local department of social services for guidance moving forward. Good luck!
The state we are doing a kinship ICPC adoption in failed to respond to an email from our state(the receiving state) for about 5 weeks. If we hadn’t emailed the receiving state every week we would have never found out the home state never saw the email and inturn never sent the appropriate forms to the receiving state to start the process. Thusly, I now email both caseworkers in both states a couple times a week to check in. If we hadn’t intervened would the states eventually figured out that they had lost the child in the bureaucracy?