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What You Need to Know if You Are Adopting a Child Across State Lines

Are you considering adopting a child who might not live in Nebraska?  Before you begin the process, it is important to understand how the adoption process works when you adopt a child across state lines.

To adopt a child across state lines you must comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or the “ICPC.”  Essentially, this Compact is an agreement between the states that ensures children’s rights are protected as if they are still in their home state.  All 50 states have adopted the ICPC.   The ICPC provides uniform administrative and legal procedures to guarantee the safety and stability of all parties involved in the adoption process.

Under the ICPC, states are identified as either “sending” or “receiving” a child.  A sending state is the state in which the child currently lives, and where the placement of that child begins.  A receiving state is the state in which the child will be sent or brought to.  For example, if you live in Nebraska and want to adopt a child living in Wisconsin, Nebraska would be the receiving state and Wisconsin would be the sending state.  In terms of legal jurisdiction, the ICPC states the sending state has jurisdiction over the child as if they had remained in the state they currently live in.  Therefore, in the above example the adopting family must bring the adoption case in a Wisconsin court.

To start the adoption process, you must first contact a local adoption agency or professional.  The sending state must give the receiving state notice of its intention to assist in an interstate adoption.  The adoption agency or professional will help you in completing the necessary paperwork.  Then, the sending state sends the paperwork to the receiving state’s Compact Administrator.  Every state has their own Compact Administrator who reviews the paperwork and ultimately makes the decision whether or not the placement is approved.  If your application is approved, the placement procedures will begin.

The ICPC process can be lengthy and complicated.  The recommended processing time for an application is six weeks, or 30 working days, from the sending state giving its notice.  This time could be longer or shorter depending on the number of ICPC requests or the application itself.

The legal process of adopting a child across state lines can be very difficult.  At Berkshire & Burmeister our experienced family law attorneys are ready to help you navigate through these issues.


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