MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN INTERSTATE ADOPTION
Are you an adoptive couple in Illinois who found a potential birth mother in New York? Are you a birth mother who would like to place your child with a family in Florida? If so, then your adoption probably falls under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, which is referred to as “ICPC.” Basically, adoptions that require travel of a child across state lines are interstate adoptions.
There are special regulations that must be carefully completed and followed before a child born in another state can travel to Illinois, or a child born in Illinois can travel to another state. Until both states approve the adoption, the child cannot travel. These laws apply to and must be followed in all 50 states.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGEABLE LEGAL COUNSEL IN INTERSTATE ADOPTIONS
An interstate case is complicated and must be done precisely. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys requires that its members prove that they have completed a number of interstate cases successfully before they are granted membership. State laws for adoption and the types of documents required to get approval often vary from state to state.
Experienced lawyers know what specific or unique documents and steps are necessary for approval in their own state. Any differences between Illinois and other states must be communicated and planned for; attorneys in each state must work together toward the common goal of getting all of the documentation necessary to get both states’ approval.
These steps also need to be done quickly and efficiently, because an adoptive couple typically travels to the birth mother’s state to care for the infant until they are approved to go home with the child.
Basic interstate documents typically include:
- Completion of a form requesting ICPC approval to make a placement
- A cover letter identifying the child, birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, a statement of how the match was made, and the name of the agency in the adoptive couple’s state who will supervise the wellbeing of the child when they get home.
- A consent signed by one or both birth parents. Whether the consent should be done using Illinois laws and forms, or the other state’s forms, is a determination that experienced lawyers must make based on the particular facts of a situation.
- A waiver or choice of law by the parents, specifying which state’s law will apply.
- A statement detailing a plan for how the adoption will be completed, which will later be followed by the attorney in the home state of the adoptive parents.
- A certification by a licensed attorney that the consent is in compliance with the laws of their state.
- A verification that everyone has complied with the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. 1901).
- An acknowledgment, signed by the adoptive parents, explaining the legal risks that the adoption has (such as an unidentified or non-consenting father).
- A complete case history, including hospital and medical records for the child; and if the child is older, then the case history should include prior custody orders, court involvement, education, and special needs.
- Licensing and current (last 12 months) home study information for the adoptive family.
- Background checks of the adoptive family, including federal and state background clearances, FBI fingerprinting, and sex offender registry searches.
- Depending on the state, an order proving appointment of a legal guardian for the child.
- Affidavits of expenses from the adoptive family, attorneys, and agency.
- The adoptive parents’ agency licensing and certification as a child welfare agency.
- A letter from the adoptive parents’ agency indicating that they will supervise the placement when the baby is allowed travel back to their state.
- A complete history of the biological parent or parents, including social history, medical history, ethnic, background, and reasons for making the adoption plan. Our firm has specific forms for this information.
- A statement explaining the circumstance of the match: how did everyone find each other? Who put them in contact? Why did the birth parents ultimately decide to choose this family?
- Authority for the adoptive family to provide medical care, and to have temporary legal authority for the child.
Typically, the above list is a starting point, and additional documents or pieces are necessary. Experienced adoption lawyers should be able to figure out everything you need. We carefully plan every interstate case as far in advance as possible, and we understand the importance of working hard to anticipate anything that might arise. When you’re in a hotel on the other side of the country, knowing there is a plan that is running smoothly provides invaluable peace of mind.
LET US ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT AN ADOPTION ACROSS STATE LINES
Yes, an interstate adoption is complex — but it is not a process to fear when you have an experienced lawyer guiding you through all the steps. Contact Parker & Parker in Peoria by calling 309-673-0069 or 800-672-9105 or sending an email inquiry.