The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) applies to any adoption that occurs across state lines. For example, if you live here in Florida, but the child you are adopting lives or is born in Oklahoma, you will need to secure ICPC clearance before you can bring your new child home to Florida with you.
In domestic infant adoption, the ICPC process occurs after the birth of the child, after the birth mother has signed her adoption consent forms that terminate her parental rights and before you return home with your new child.
Bryan McLachlan can help guide you through the ICPC process, and answer any questions you have, so call him at (727) 398-0086, and read on to learn more.
Here’s what the ICPC process will generally look like for your interstate adoption:
- You’ll receive a call that the baby is about to be born and it’s time for you to travel to the hospital.
- After the required waiting period has passed (about 12–72 hours, depending on the state) the birth parents can sign their consent forms to terminate their parental rights.
- The baby is discharged from the hospital and placed into your temporary care, wherever you’re staying near the hospital.
- You’ll remain within the state with your baby while Florida sends your ICPC paperwork to the birth mother’s state.
- The birth mother’s state will review the paperwork, approve it and then send the corresponding ICPC paperwork back to Florida.
- The Florida ICPC office will separately review the paperwork, approve it and then contact the birth mother’s state to let them know that they’ve also approved it.
- The birth mother’s state will then contact Bryan McLachlan to inform him that all the ICPC paperwork has been cleared (or to request any additional information).
- Bryan then contacts you to let you know that you’re free to take your baby home!
If it seems like a lot of extraneous back-and-forth, that’s because it is. Here’s why communication between the two state’s ICPC offices can take a while:
- The ICPC offices and adoptive families aren’t permitted to contact each other directly.
- All communication has to go through your adoption professional. This means that you can’t contact your state’s ICPC office to ask where they’re at in the process. As frustrating as that is, it’s the law, and it’s designed to prevent any kind of influence on the ICPC’s decision.
ICPC exists to ensure that every child adopted across state lines is going to a safe, stable and loving home. Ultimately, it exists for the safety of your new child.
How long does the ICPC process take? It can vary, but you should plan on remaining in the birth mother’s state for 2–3 weeks after the birth of the baby. Here’s why:
- Paperwork can’t be sent to the ICPC offices until the birth mother has signed the consent forms. The birth mother can’t sign the consent forms until the state-mandated waiting period is up. Sometimes her consent isn’t valid until she appears in court to present her consent forms, depending on state law. So it could be a few days before the paperwork can even be sent.
- ICPC paperwork can take several days to be collected and sent (longer if your home study is not fully completed, up-to-date and filed with your adoption professional).
- The processing time of your ICPC paperwork is limited to the state office’s office hours. That means that you may have to wait until Monday for paperwork to be sent if the birth mother’s consent is approved on the weekend. This will take longer if it happens around a government holiday. Processing usually takes about 7–10 business days.
- If one of your documents is out of date or missing, the ICPC office will have to contact your adoption professional to find that document, send it over and then review and approve it.
Here’s what you can do to make your ICPC process less stressful:
- Work with Bryan to make sure that you’ve provided all the documents that he’ll need to send to the ICPC offices so that you won’t have to scramble to collect a missing medical reference or other documents.
- Keep your information current, especially your home study. Any time there is a major change in your life (like a new job or a move), you’ll need to update your home study. Home studies should also be updated at least once a year, anyway. Know when your home study expires.
- Be prepared to travel (sometimes on a moment’s notice) and remain in your baby’s birth state for several weeks. Make a travel plan for yourself, including:
- arrangements for your pets or other children
- arrangements for taking time away from work
- packing a bag (don’t worry about baby supplies; you can buy those while ICPC is processing)
- finding someplace near the birth mother’s hospital where you’ll stay
- collecting a list of phone numbers for all the people you’ll need to contact while you’re on your way to the airport (dog-sitter, babysitter, your bosses, the hotel you’ll be staying at, the rental car company, etc.)
Here’s what you should not do prior to getting the call that it’s time to travel for the birth:
- Don’t book a flight in advance
- Don’t book a hotel in advance
- Don’t buy a ton of baby supplies in advance
- Don’t call the ICPC office
- Don’t give anyone “exact” dates or timeframes when you’ll be gone or when you’ll be back
Booking travel and accommodation before you get the call from your adoption specialist could result in you having to cancel or reschedule those reservations if the birth mother’s labor lasts longer or if your ICPC process is longer or shorter. Stay flexible, but stay ready.
You’ll have plenty of time to purchase the necessary baby items while your ICPC paperwork is processing before you can return home, so don’t worry about that until after the baby is born. The hospital can supply you with the basics in the meantime.
When you’re letting the important people in your life know that you’ll soon be asked to travel for the birth, let them know that there’s no way to be certain of arrival and departure dates. They’ll understand; babies don’t always show up on schedule! This is the most important moment of your life as a family. Everyone will work around you as best as they can.
While you’re waiting for ICPC clearance:
It can be tedious to stay in a hotel with a newborn for days or weeks while you’re waiting for ICPC authorities to tell you that you can return home. But, try to see this time as an opportunity to spend time with your new baby as a family before you return to “the real world.” Try to enjoy it!
If you have any questions about interstate adoption laws or the ICPC process for your adoption, you can contact Bryan McLachlan now.