Written by Jonathan Breeden
There are many ways to start and grow your family. Outside of traditional methods, many parents choose in vitro fertilization and adoption. For you, or you and your spouse, adoption of a newborn or older child may be the right path. Adoption is a wonderful choice to make, but it comes with rules, regulations, and complexities, especially if you wish to adopt a child from another state. You should work with an interstate adoption attorney to navigate the process and bring your child home as soon as possible.
Interstate adoption is the process of legally adopting a child that resides in a different state from you. Because your adoption involves multiple states, it is best to work with a lawyer who is familiar with both state’s adoption laws and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
The ICPC was enacted by all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the early 1960s. It says that the states will work together to ensure children who are placed with families across state lines go to safe homes. The ICPC created procedures for interstate child adoptions and established agencies to take responsibility for the safety and protection of children being moved away from their home state.
When you seek to adopt a child from another state than your own, the legal process involves ICPC paperwork as well as court forms in your home state. The ICPC specifically governs interstate foster care and pre-adoptive placements, which means you need to follow this law prior to a child being placed in your home.
If you fail to adhere to the compact before a child is placed in your home, it can be difficult to correct your mistakes. As such, the adoption may not be finalized.
Once you are matched with a child in another state, you must begin the paperwork process. Your adoption attorney or the agency will gather and complete the child’s ICPC paperwork and file it with the appropriate state agency, along with the results of your home study, proof of the birth parents’ consent or revocation of their parental rights, and other information.
The ICPC office may request additional information or approve the request. This can take weeks or months, depending on the circumstances. Once approved, the paperwork is transferred to your home state’s ICPC office. In North Carolina, the ICPC is administered by the Division of Social Services.
Next, your home state’s ICPC office must review and approve your request, which can take a couple of weeks or months. Once your home state approves of the child’s placement with you, then the paperwork is returned to the individual who initially submitted it – either your attorney or agency.
Only after both states have approved the placement can the child travel to your home to live with you. It is important not to take the child out of their state until you have approval from both states.
If you are adopting a child who has already been placed in foster care in their current state, then you may remain in your home state during this process. If you are matched with a newborn, then you may be called to the child’s state when the mother gives birth. Once the birth mother signs consent forms to the adoption, and you go through any waiting period required by the state, then the child will be placed in your custody.
While you have the newborn, you cannot yet leave the state. You may be required to find temporary housing while you wait for the ICPC approval, which will allow you to bring the child to North Carolina.
ICPC paperwork is only the beginning of the interstate adoption process. Once you return home, you must begin the legal adoption proceedings in your state. Your lawyer will file the adoption paperwork and help you finalize the adoption as soon as possible.
Jonathan Breeden is a highly experienced family law attorney, and has helped individuals and couples pursue local, interstate, and various types of adoption. To schedule a consultation of your case, call Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970, or reach out through the online form.