So, you’ve stumbled upon a photolisting of a child, or children, that you just cannot let go. But that child happens to be in another state. Now what?

Current License

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure your license is current and that you’re able to accommodate another child or group of children according to your license. If you’re working with an agency, you’ll want to place a call to speak with your social worker or licensing agent.

Individual State Laws

Secondly, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws of your state and the state the child lives in. Adoption laws vary by state, and you’ll need to learn what to expect in terms of the time you’ll need to plan for in state and the paperwork you’ll need for traveling across state lines. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children will be something you’ll want to get to know as well. This is true for any adoption, foster or otherwise, and you’ll need to be familiar with the rules and regulations for taking a child across state lines in an adoption situation.

Wait Time

An average adoption from foster care generally takes between nine and 18 months. Depending on the situation, this time could increase due to the additional paperwork that will be necessary when adopting from another state. But don’t let that discourage you, as in most circumstances the child will be able to be in your custody during the adoption process. There may be situations where this is not true, however; you’ll want to check with the foster agency to make sure that’s not an issue for you.


You may also want to check with your agency or employer to find out what costs will be covered in an interstate adoption. Many employers these days offer an adoption assistance program. Check to see if your employer covers travel costs to and from the other state. That may include gas, food, and lodging. You’ll want to check with local hotels about extended stay rates if that applies to your situation. In some circumstances they’ll reimburse at finalization; in other circumstances they will reimburse as the amounts occur. You’ll want to know what is expected as far as documentation and reimbursement go.

Foster adoption is different in every situation. Get to know the laws, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your agency social worker should be able to help you through the process. Happy adopting!

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Karla King is a mom, adoptive and foster. She is a Christian, a wife, and an advocate of open adoption.