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Crossing State Borders With a New Baby–Know the Laws

Love jolts the soul and heart of parents when they first hold the baby they are about the adopt.

You want to go home.

You want to place the child in the beautiful new crib.

You want to introduce the new soul to the rest of your family.

STOP! Be patient.

Crossing a state line without the proper paperwork is illegal.

ICPC—Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children—allows for a child’s legal transport from one state to another in a foster or adoption placement.

If you travel to another state to pick up a child, you must wait in that state until the paperwork is completed within the state and then accepted both by the child’s home state and the adoptive parent’s home state.

Completing an ICPC can range from a few days to a few weeks. We have been very fortunate and have not had many problems with our ICPC’s, but we have heard of complicated cases where the ICPC can take over a month. If we anticipate extenuating circumstances, we do everything possible to expedite the ICPC.

As an adoptive parent, you can see this wait as an intrusion into the new life you are starting with the child. Instead, consider this a time to focus on this new relationship. This is a beautiful time to bond. It is easy to get annoyed when you don’t get that phone call that tells you ICPC has cleared. And indeed, there are added expenses when your return home gets delayed. Still, we encourage you to spend the time loving your child while we do the work.

Individual states have differences in what they require within their ICPC; however, shared among them is a case plan, a summary of information on the child, and a financial and medical plan.  These compacts are designed to protect the child so that:

  • The child is placed in a suitable environment;
  • The receiving state has the opportunity to assess that the proposed placement is not contrary to the interests of the child and that its applicable laws and policies have been followed before it approves the placement;
  • The sending state obtains enough information to evaluate the proposed placement;
  • The care of the child is promoted through appropriate jurisdictional arrangements; and
  • The sending agency or individual guarantees the child legal and financial protection.