ICPC stands for Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. A compact, as defined in the dictionary, is “a formal agreement between two or more parties.” In this case, the “parties” are states. ICPC is an agreement between all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. This compact oversees the transfer of a child from one state to another in an adoption situation.
The ICPC process can be brief and smooth, or long, drawn out, and even painful! The process is generally initiated by an adoption caseworker in the state where the child was born (in the case of an infant adoption) or currently resides (in the case of an older child). We’ll call this the “sending state”! The caseworker prepares a file for the child, which includes personal information about the child and information about the family intending to adopt the child. This packet of information is then sent to the ICPC in the sending state.
Once the ICPC office in the sending state receives the documentation and deems it sufficient, it is sent it the ICPC office in the destination state. The destination, or “receiving state,” reviews the documentation, including a close examination of the hopeful adoptive couple. The central ICPC office then sends the documentation to the local agency used by the adoptive couple. This is usually the agency that has completed the home study for the prospective parents.
In short, the states need to communicate. One state, responsible for the safety and well-being of the child, needs to make sure that another state is aware that this child will soon be a resident. It is done with the protection and best interest of the child in mind, which is sometimes hard to remember when we are anxious to be home. Below are 5 things to keep in mind.
- Your ICPC paperwork must be approved before you can leave the state where the baby is born. 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.
- ICPC is legally mandatory in every adoption that takes place outside of your home state.
Please be aware that not complying with ICPC and not following the laws you are at risk of having your adoption petition dismissed, vacating orders of termination of parental rights and the child being removed from your care. It is vital that you follow ICPC guidelines to ensure the adoption.