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The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is an agreement between the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that governs the placement of a child with an adoptive family or foster care family in another state. The purpose of the ICPC is to ensure that each child placed outside of his or her home state is placed in a safe and suitable environment. No child can leave one state for adoptive or foster care placement in another state without first gaining ICPC approval.

The ICPC process is not complicated. The adoption agency or an attorney in the child’s home state will send a request to the Department of Social Services in the child’s home state requesting approval to send the child to another state. The child’s home state is referred to as the “sending state” and the adoptive family’s state is referred to as the “receiving state”. As is required by the ICPC, the request must include information about the proposed placement, such as information about the child, the child’s medical history, a home study on the adoptive couple containing a criminal record and sex offender background check, copies of court orders terminating the birth parents’ parental rights (if any), copies of the birth parents’ consents to the adoption, and the birth parents’ health and background information.

After the sending state’s Department of Social Services approves the placement, it will forward the application to the receiving state’s Department of Social Services. The receiving state will also evaluate the application. Only after the receiving state approves the placement may the adoptive parents return home with the child, where they will then commence the legal proceeding to adopt the child.

Ordinarily, the two states’ ICPC offices will approve the placement without more than bureaucratic delay. However, sometimes the examining official will first request additional information. Rarely does a request for additional information signal any reason for concern over approval of the application. In most cases, the official has just noted something that is modestly different from usual and, in an abundance of caution, he or she seeks additional information. Generally, ICPC approvals are completed within a week, give or take a few days. However, the Interstate Compact states that it can take up to 30 days to receive approval and variations in the time required for processing are neither unusual nor cause for concern.

It is important to recognize that ICPC approval, and your trip home, does not mean that the ICPC process is done. The sending state retains authority over the adoption until the adoption is finalized, and at that time the adoption attorney (or the adoption agency) in the receiving state must notify the sending state that the adoption has been finalized.

It is a violation of law not to follow the ICPC process. An experienced attorney can walk an adoptive parent through this process without much difficulty. We look forward to working with you, whether you need advice as you begin your adoption journey, guidance with the ICPC process, or assistance after you have violated the ICPC laws. Please do not hesitate to give us a call to see how we can help.

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