Interstate Compact on Placement of Children

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (hereinafter referred to as ICPC) is a set of uniform laws governing the interstate placement of children enacted in every state, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

No child shall be sent, brought or caused to be brought across state lines for placement in foster care or adoption, or as is preliminary to a possible adoption, unless there is prior approval from the appropriate ICPC offices. In other words, it is illegal to take a child across state lines for the purpose of adoption without obtaining ICPC approval.

Each state has an ICPC office administered by that state’s social service agency (for example, Virginia Department of Social Services). Approval must be obtained from both the state where the child is coming from and the state where the adoptive parents reside.

Approval is obtained by filing an ICPC request and supporting documentation with the state from which the child is coming and that state’s ICPC office forwards the packet, with its approval, to the state where the adopters reside. The requirements for the items to be filed vary with the states involved and compliance must be made with both sides.

The time for obtaining approval averages about two weeks once all necessary documentation is received. What this means is the adoptive parents may have physical custody of the child in another state and be waiting in a hotel until approval is given. Individual states may allow for procedures to be quickened this time period.

Failure to obtain the ICPC approval is a violation of the law. Some states have criminal penalties, including possible incarceration. One state has allowed a birth parent to revoke her consent for the adoptive parents’ failure to comply. Other states have required ICPC compliance before allowing an adoption petition to proceed.

Once the approval is given, the adoptive parents may bring the child home. The ICPC office continues to oversee the placement until the adoption is finalized.

This summary of the ICPC is meant as a brief overview and not as legal advice. This area of the law is complex and it is strongly recommended that you consult an experienced professional to assist with the filing or to determine its applicability to you.

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