The ICPC Wait in Adoption

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Adoptive mother carefully buckles her newborn daughter into her carseatSince most hopeful parents work with a national agency to make their dreams of adoption come true, they adopt a baby from another state after being chosen by a birth mother. Besides traveling to the birth mother’s state and the two state’s laws involved, another important aspect is ICPC.
Wondering what ICPC is and why it’s such a vital part of the domestic adoption process? We answer this question and more below, and remember that you can always call Lifetime Adoption at 727-493-0933 or contact us online to connect with an adoption professional.

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What is ICPC?

ICPC is an anonym used for domestic adoptions in which the birth parents and adopting parents live in different states. ICPC stands for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. It is a statutory agreement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands. This agreement ensures that children placed into an adoptive family outside their birth state get the right support services. The primary purpose of the ICPC is to ensure that children placed out-of-state are going with caregivers who are safe, suitable, and able to meet the child’s needs.
In domestic infant adoption, the odds are high that a birth mother won’t deliver in your home state. Since every state has its own adoption laws, rather than a federal law for the whole country, the ICPC comes into play during the adoption process.

How the Process Works

Once you’ve traveled to the birth mother’s state, she gives birth, and the revocation period has passed for the birth parents, hospital personnel will discharge the baby into your custody. It’s at this point that the ICPC process can begin.
Typically, it takes around 10-14 business days from when the forms are submitted until ICPC clears. Now is when patience comes into play. The amount of time you’ll need to wait before you can return home depends on a number of things, such as the need for additional paperwork or the capacity of the ICPC office to handle requests.
You may have received a sudden adoption opportunity, where the birth mother made an adoption plan while in the hospital to give birth. Or your adoption may have been in the works for a long time.
Regardless of the case, there’s no doubt you’re ready to get home and start your new life with your precious little one. However, it’s good to remember that there’s nothing that you or we can do to make it go faster when it comes to the ICPC process.
Although it may be tempting when you’re eager to return home, avoid contacting the ICPC offices in either state. Doing so won’t speed up the process and can even slow your ICPC clearance. Remember that they are doing all they can, and that Lifetime’s adoption professionals will provide any additional paperwork or support they may need as you wait.

The Steps Involved in an ICPC Application

Here is a summary of the steps involved in an ICPC application, according to the American Public Human Services Association:

  1. Your adoption professional gathers the appropriate paperwork and submits it to the sending state’s (the birth mother’s state) ICPC office.
  2. The information is then sent to the central ICPC office in the sending state, typically located in the state capital.
  3. The sending state’s ICPC office reviews the paperwork to determine if additional information is needed.
  4. If approved, the sending state transmits the packet to the central ICPC office in the receiving state, which is where the adoptive parents live.
  5. The receiving state reviews the packet and may request additional materials to comply with state laws.
  6. The receiving state notifies the sending state of its approval.
  7. The sending state contacts the adoption professional who submitted the paperwork.
  8. The adoptive parents are informed that the ICPC process is complete. What this means is that you can head home with your new family!

6 Practical Tips to Make Waiting for Clearance a Beautiful Time

Many adoptive couples planning their trip to the birth mother’s state to meet their baby wonder what they can do while waiting for clearance to go home. While it’s a waiting game while the professionals involved take the necessary steps, we recommend using that time to your advantage. Here are six practical tips to make waiting for clearance a beautiful and memorable time:

1. Live Life at a Slower Pace

As you wait for ICPC to clear, keep in mind that you’ll probably be tired and adjusting to a new routine and completely new life as parents. So, you should keep a slower pace than you would on another typical “vacation.”

2. Visit With Your Baby’s Birth Mother

Make yourselves available to visit with your baby’s birth mother and her family. She might not care or desire to visit, but it’s important to your future relationship with her that you make the offer.
Depending on the level of contact you agreed upon with her, don’t leave to go home without first letting her know you’re departing.

3. Be Tourists

Explore local landmarks in the birth mother’s town. Take photos and videos and make notes for their baby book. These day trips will become part of your child’s adoption story!
But before taking any trips with your baby, make sure to talk to a medical professional. In general, there’s no need to stay inside with your little one if you both feel up to getting out. Fresh air and sunshine can benefit you both by getting some vitamin D and mood-boosting advantages.
However, most pediatricians advise waiting before taking your baby into crowded spaces like movie theaters or malls, where they may be exposed to high levels of germs.

4. Go Shopping

As you wait, you could also shop for baby items. Think about what you’ve already bought, and get the items you still need. Shopping will be fun since you can do it with your baby boy or girl in mind!
If there’s a bigger item you still need, you could ask a family member or friend in your hometown to help you out by picking it up for you.

5. Enjoy this Time

Lifetime’s adoption professionals encourage you to focus on the bonding time you have now. Enjoy your alone time connecting with your baby. You won’t get an opportunity like it again! Once you get home, you’ll be sharing with many excited relatives and friends.

6. Remain Flexible

Although you’re probably antsy to get home, do your best to stay flexible during this phase of the adoption process. Waiting for ICPC to clear might feel inefficient and unnecessary, but the wait time is out of your control. Go with the flow and relish this time of just the two of you with your baby!

Certainly, the ICPC wait can be tough, so we recommend preparing as much as possible. Plan some local adventures during your wait, or simply focus on the time you have right now to bond with your baby. After all, you won’t get an opportunity like this again!
At any rate, remember that your Adoption Coordinator will always be available to answer your questions about this post-placement process and provide whatever support and guidance you may need.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 17, 2017, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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