The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children: What Parents Need to Know

Understanding the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children is crucial for any parents looking to potentially adopt out of their home state.

Flying across the US to adopt requires knowledge of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a uniform law enacted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, establishing procedures for interstate adoption placements. It applies only to children who are placed for adoption across state lines, and not to placements with a close adult relative.


Q: How does the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children process work?

A: If a family is from one state and the baby they wish to adopt is born in another:

  1. The family travels to the sending state to accept placement of the child.
  2. Before the family is allowed to leave the sending state, the adoption agency submits the ICPC paperwork to the sending state’s ICPC office.
  3. After the sending state has approved the adoption, the paperwork is forwarded to the receiving state’s ICPC office.
  4. Once the receiving state has approved the paperwork, the family is notified, and only then can they return to their state with their child.

If the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children is not followed, or the family leaves prior to approval, the adoption could be jeopardized. Most states allow the adoptive family to stay with the child during the wait.


Q: How much time is needed to process ICPC paperwork?

A: The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children cannot begin until one or both (depending on the situation) birth parents’ rights have been surrendered. All documents must be submitted together. Some items (discharge paperwork, medical records) are not available until the baby is released from the hospital.

The paperwork usually takes seven to 10 business days to process, although ICPC offices in some states take longer. Adoptive families should make the necessary arrangements to stay in the sending state for at least two weeks. Only one parent is required to stay with the child. Foster care can be arranged if necessary.


Q: Should I contact the ICPC offices to check our approval status?

A: Adoptive families should not contact ICPC offices; they will be notified immediately upon ICPC approval. Your attorney or agency needs to know where to reach you at all times during this wait.


Q: Are there other situations in which the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children is involved?

A: ICPC may be triggered if the adoptive parents move from their home state prior to finalization of the adoption. Most states require an ICPC filing prior to the move. ICPC is not involved in international placements.

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