If you are considering adopting out of state, whether as a South Carolina resident or an out-of-state resident looking to adopt in South Carolina, you will first need to understand the requirements of this process. Central to every interstate adoption is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, otherwise known as ICPC.
There are specific legal requirements for an out-of-state adoption, and South Carolina state laws have unique stipulations that other states do not. Therefore, you’ll need to work with an experienced adoption firm like Thompson Dove Law Group to ensure your interstate adoption is completed legally, safely and efficiently. Only then will you be able to successfully bring your new child home as a part of your family.
What is ICPC?
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is a legal process that ensures all children adopted across state lines are placed in a safe and suitable home. Because each state has its own adoption laws, ICPC law provides national regulations to protect adopted children.
The ICPC process allows each state involved in the interstate adoption process to review the adoption paperwork and ensure the placement follows all appropriate laws and regulations. The birth mother’s current state of residence is known as the “sending state,” and the adoptive parents’ state of residence is known as the “receiving state.”
ICPC adoptions usually apply to all non-relative adoptions across state lines. Thompson Dove Law Group can help determine what ICPC regulations you will need to follow if you are adopting out-of-state in South Carolina.
How Does the ICPC Process Work?
Our law firm will guide you through every step of the ICPC process to ensure you follow the necessary rules and regulations for your interstate adoption. Each adoption is slightly different, so the steps involved in this legal process may be slightly different, as well.
In general, here’s how an ICPC adoption works:
- Adoptive parents travel to the birth mother’s state upon the birth of their child. The birth parents legally consent to the adoption, and the baby is discharged from the hospital into the adoptive parents’ custody.
- The lawyer or adoption agency handling the adoption gathers necessary ICPC paperwork to send to the sending state’s ICPC office. This often includes the adoptive family’s home study, the child’s health information, the birth parents’ consent to the adoption and other important legal documents
- The sending state approves this information and submits it to the receiving state (where the adoptive family lives).
- The receiving state reviews the paperwork and either approves it or requests additional information.
- Once the receiving state approves the paperwork, it will notify the sending state. The sending state will then contact the agency or attorney who submitted the paperwork.
- The adoptive family is notified of their ICPC approval and is able to take their new baby home to their state.
An adoptive child cannot leave the sending state until they receive ICPC approval. Doing so can jeopardize the integrity of the adoption, and the baby could be returned to the state where he or she was born.
While the ICPC process can take some time to complete, it’s important that you let your adoption professionals handle this legal process. Contacting ICPC offices or trying to be actively involved in this process can actually delay the approval of your interstate adoption.
What the Requirement of Judicial Determination Means in South Carolina
Each state has specific ICPC rules and regulations, and South Carolina is no different. Our state’s ICPC laws specify that children may be adopted by South Carolina residents only, except “in unusual or exceptional circumstances.”
This is where the requirement of a judicial determination comes in. A court must issue an order of unusual or exceptional circumstances before a child can be adopted by out-of-state residents. But these circumstances are not as “exceptional” as you may think and often include cases in which:
- The birth mother and prospective adoptive family have a close, pre-existing relationship.
- The adoptive family has close ties with South Carolina (for example, a family member grew up, works in, or has family in the state).
- The birth mother chooses to place her child with an out-of-state family and an affidavit is provided to the court explaining why she selected the adoptive family.
- The child has special needs that will be best cared for by this adoptive family.
There are certain legal steps than must be taken to address this South Carolina interstate adoption law. Fortunately, Thompson Dove Law Group is experienced in this process and can guide you through it. You may or may not be required to attend a hearing to obtain this court order. If you are, our law offices will arrange any necessary hearings and gather the necessary ICPC paperwork to be submitted during this legal petition. All adoptions of South Carolina children must be finalized in South Carolina.
While the judicial determination in a South Carolina interstate adoption may add an extra requirement for families adopting out of state, this process is certainly still an option for prospective adoptive parents. As long as you are aware of and prepared for the ICPC process ahead of time, adopting a child from another state should be problem-free. Remember, our legal professionals will always be there to guide you along the way.
For more information about ICPC in South Carolina, please contact our law firm at 864-573-5533.