Like any adoption, adopting a child from another state is a lengthy process. Adopting a child from another state requires the same steps to be followed as an in-state adoption. Successful interstate adoptions begin with a family expressing their interest in adopting a child, and the judge finalizes the adoption placement. The most significant difference is applying the procedure outlined for interstate adoptions in California by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

What is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children?

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is an adoption contract that has been agreed upon by all 50 United States, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ICPC establishes the procedural steps adoptive parents must take to ensure the safety and stability of children being adopted across state lines. The ICPC was established in 1960 as a response to concerns that states could not guarantee that children placed through private and public adoptions were receiving the proper care when they had crossed state lines. Since its creation, ICPC has provided states with an administrative process to ensure the safety of children.

In California, ICPC provisions were adopted in 1975 and are now a part of the California Family Code Section 7900, et seq. Under this statute, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is the public authority responsible for the administration of the ICPC. The ICPC aims to protect adopted children and the states involved in the placement of children in interstate adoptions. ICPC also acts to ensure that the:

  • Children are placed in a safe and healthy environment.
  • Sending state has reviewed enough information to evaluate the child’s proposed placement.
  • The receiving state has been allowed to ensure that the proposed placement is not threatening to the child’s best interests and that the applicable laws and policies have been followed in approving the placement.
  • The care of the child has been promoted and protected by local jurisdictional arrangements, and
  • The sending party has guaranteed the legal and financial protection of the child.

How does ICPC affect interstate adoptions?

The ICPC requires families engaging in interstate adoptions to abide by the adoption laws of the receiving state and the sending state. In interstate adoptions, the sending state refers to where the adoptive child lives, and the receiving state refers to where the adoptive parents reside. Adoption requires a significant amount of information sharing, which means that effective communication between the sending and receiving state is crucial to assure that the ICPC regulations are being followed.

Can I Adopt a Child from Another State?

If an adoptive child is born in a different state than the adoptive parents’ residence, the states involved must exchange a packet of documents. This packet includes information relating to the state’s consent to the adoption. Both states must approve before the adoptive family returns to their home state with the child in an interstate adoption. Before the child moves to the receiving state, the sending state must receive permission for the placement from the receiving state. Most families who have adopted a child from another state must remain in the child’s birth state for a week to 10 days from the child’s date of birth. Depending on the circumstances, clearance to return to the family’s home state can come anywhere from 5 to 14 days. Because of this, there is not a set time frame in California that details the period a family’s return to their home state after an adoption can take. The amount of time an adoptive family must spend in the child’s birth state will depend on the sending state and the unique circumstances of your adoption.

Private Adoption Across State Lines:

Whether you are adopting through a national or private agency, adoptions that cross state lines are required to comply with the ICPC rules and regulations before they are allowed to bring their new child home.

Because adoption laws vary from state to state, there is no federal law regulating adoption. Instead, an ICPC office is set up in each state to review interstate adoption cases. It is the responsibility of ICPC administrators to ensure that all applicable laws and regulations in both states have been followed before the adoptive family will be allowed to return home. Regardless of the type of adoption, the role of the ICPC remains the same. The process typically takes two weeks but can take even longer, depending on the circumstances.

What to Expect During an Interstate Adoption?

Generally, the steps of completing an interstate adoption will look like this:

  • Adoptive parents will be traveling from the receiving state to the sending state before or when the child is born.
  • Afterward, the baby will be discharged from the hospital into the custody of the adoptive parents.
  • Signed consent is mandatory for ICPC. However, depending on the state, there may be a mandatory waiting period before the birth parents consent to the adoption.
  • After obtaining consent, your attorney and adoption agency will work with the birth parent’s attorney to file the necessary documentation with the state’s ICPC office.
  • Once the documentation has been filed, the sending state will approve the ICPC request and send it to the receiving state for review.
  • At this time, an ICPC administrator may request further information from either party before approving the adoption, if necessary.
  • Suppose no further information is required and both the sending and receiving state have given their approval to the adoption. The ICPC administrator will notify the adoptive family’s attorney, who will provide clearance to the adoptive family to take their child home.

Whether a private or public agency facilitates the process, completing an interstate adoption looks virtually the same across the United States. In California, private adoption agencies will typically be the party responsible for obtaining and submitting all the proper documentation with the ICPC.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one are looking into interstate adoption, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or further inquiries. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.