So much planning and paperwork go into adoption. First, there’s the home study with seemingly endless piles of paperwork, which sometimes have to be completed in duplicate or triplicate. Having to hunt down physician forms, get fingerprinted, and finally get the stamp of approval to adopt is essentially one big paper chase. Then there are the forms for the agency or attorney you choose: profile forms, financial documents, documents that outline your preferences for the race or gender of your child. Finally, you are matched, your child is born, and you think, “Finally, the bureaucracy is over and I can just enjoy being a parent.” Well, if you adopt from a state other than the one you reside in, that’s not necessarily the case.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) was created to ensure that there is some uniformity in the documentation of an adoption when a child is born in a state other than the one where the adoptive parents reside. Every state has different laws regarding adoption in terms of when the termination of parental rights (TPR) can be signed, what the revocation period is, and what the requirements are for prospective adoptive parents. The ICPC allows the child placement authorities in each state to communicate with one another to confirm that all the t’s have been crossed and i’s have been dotted on that giant mountain of paperwork you’ve filled out, as well as on the documentation from your attorney.

In most cases, it’s essentially just a formality, just one last hurdle to cross before you can bring your child home. On occasion, the ICPC review process will reveal you need to update some part of your paperwork, such as your fingerprints. If there are any discrepancies, you are given the opportunity to rectify them, but it will prolong the ICPC process. During the ICPC review, you cannot, under virtually any circumstances, leave the state in which the child was born.

If there are any extenuating circumstances that would require you to leave the state before the ICPC review is completed, you have to have explicit permission from the courts to do so. Generally, if you are anticipating having to complete the ICPC review, expect that you will not be able to return to your home state until, at a minimum, one week after the TPR is signed. Some states move the paperwork through faster than others, and your agency or attorney should be able to give you a ballpark idea of the maximum time you might be waiting.

If you are adopting from another state, make sure you have a plan in place for who will take care of things at your home while you are gone. On rare occasions, the ICPC process can take up to three weeks, such as if you’re lucky enough to get placement around a holiday, for example. Make sure you know well in advance who will be caring for your pets, watering your plants, bringing in your mail, and taking care of any other household responsibilities that would need to be done while you are gone. Let your work know that you will return as soon as possible, but explain to them that it is out of your hands.

Being away from home with a newborn can be difficult, but it can also be a wonderful time for you to bond with your new child. If you make sure all those little loose ends are tied up before you leave, you can take the time to bond as a family before returning home to your usual routine.


Julianna Mendelsohn lives in sunny South Florida where, odds are, it is hot enough right now that she’s sweating just a little, no matter what she’s doing. She is the brains, brawn, blood, sweat, and tears behind The Adoption Mentor and is thrilled to be able to help others build their families through adoption. She is a former elementary school teacher, current MS in school counseling student, Sephora junkie, and the momma via domestic adoption to one lovely daughter.