Do special rules apply in interstate adoption?Yes. Whenever a child will be crossing state lines in an adoptive placement, a special law called the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) applies. (The ICPC does not apply in some adoption placements between close family relatives.) Each state has what is called an "interstate compact administrator," in charge of approving the adoptive placement.
Violating the ICPC by bringing a child across state lines without express approval can not only risk disruption of the adoption, but in many states is a crime, subject to criminal sanctions. Having an experienced adoption attorney handle all aspects of an interstate adoption is important. A national organization of attorneys, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, is a good starting point in finding an attorney. They have more than 300 members nationally, all listed at www.adoptionattorneys.org.
What documents are required in completing the ICPC?A cover sheet of sorts is used, called the ICPC-100A, identifying the adoptive parents, birth parents, the child and the private or government agencies involved. The adoptive parents home study will be required, as well as documents signed by the birth parent, such as authorization to obtain medical treatment for the child. In almost every case, the ICPC will not be processed until the birth parents' consent to adoption has been executed.
How long does the ICPC take?The state where the child is residing is called "the sending state" and the adoptive parents' home state is called "the receiving state." Both states must give their approval by signing the ICPC-100A form before the child can cross state lines for purposes of adoption.
Because almost every state requires that the birth mother (or father in some cases) sign a consent to adoption prior to ICPC approval, and because this normally can't be done pre-birth, the ICPC cannot be done until after the birth has occurred.
Normally, consent to adoptions are executed within about three or four days of the birth, meaning they are submitted with the other required documents about four or five days post-birth. Most ICPC offices will give their approval within 24-48 hours of receiving the ICPC packet. First the sending state gives its approval, then the packet is usually sent by air courier to the receiving state's ICPC office, and another 24-48 hours elapse before their final approval is given.
Which law applies, the sending or the receiving state?The ICPC says the sending state retains jurisdiction (the right to rule on the case), but many attorneys draft a form for the birth and adoptive parents to sign waiving this, assigning this to the receiving state (the adoptive parents' state). This is to help avoid issues where there will be a potential conflict of laws, and because all parties want the adoptive parents' home state - where usually the adoption will be finalized - to be controlling on appropriate laws and procedures.
For example, if the adoptive parents live in California and the birth mother lives in New York, each state has completely different laws regarding when and how the birth mother signs her consent, and how the birth father's rights are to be dealt with. An attorney's assistance is needed to deal with these complicated issues. Normally, however, the attorneys will consult with the two ICPC offices and work out a plan which state's consent will be used (and in some cases, both states' consent forms are used).
How do we find who the ICPC administrators are?Your attorney or agency will know. Typically, most ICPC offices will not speak to the general public, often dealing only with adoption professionals. The book, ADOPTION: The Essential Guide to Adopting Quickly and Safely, by Randall Hicks, lists each state's ICPC office address and phone number.