Adopting a child outside of the state in which you live, assuming the child is not a relative or stepchild, will likely be more expensive than adopting a child residing within your state. The main reason for the extra expense is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (“ICPC”), a uniform law which has been adopted by all 50 states, the District of Colombia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Though the law doesn’t come right out and say it in plain terms, its purpose is to insure that the “receiving” state is aware of children coming into the state who may or may not end up requiring state assistance.
Adoption of a child from another state naturally involves two states: the state in which the child resides (sending state) and the state in which the adoptive parent resides (receiving state). Each state has its own ICPC office and each state regulates ICPC procedure differently. (In Florida, ICPC is regulated and enforced by the Department of Children and Families. See F.S. section 409.401 et seq.) Because two ICPC offices are involved in an out-of-state adoption, confusion and duplication of efforts can often result.
Each ICPC office requires the adoption information be packaged in a particular way, to include completion of forms unique to that state. In addition to distinct ICPC procedures and forms, each state’s laws and procedures covering termination of parental rights and adoption are unique as well. For example, the formalities of signing, and content of, a consent for adoption vary from state to state. Some states will allow the termination of parental rights to be completed in the child’s state and the adoption to be completed in the adoptive parent’s state. Some, such as Florida, require that both proceedings be completed in the child’s state.
So, if you intend to adopt an out-of-state child who is not related to you or is not your stepchild, you will need an adoption agency or an adoption attorney who is familiar with and experienced in out-of-state adoptions. Be prepared to pay extra for the tedium of dealing with two ICPC agencies. If you go with someone inexperienced for the sake of saving money, you may end up with a mess on your hands and having to start over, which will increase your expenses, or worse, result in a failed adoption.
So, how can you know for sure if ICPC will apply in your case? If the child is the subject of a state action due to abuse, abandonment or neglect (in other words, the state has removed the child from his or her parents), ICPC will apply whether or not the child is a relative or a stepchild. Also, if the out-of-state child will be placed with you in your state for adoption purposes, ICPC applies. Other factors may or may not affect ICPC applicability. The best course of action is to contact an adoption professional, such as an agency or attorney, in your own state who is experienced in out-of-state placements and adoptions. The more experience you have on your side, the smoother and less expensive the procedure will be.
Photo credit – Joplin Hendrix da Silva Cruz