Adopting a child born in another state more complicated

The Madison County Record Aug. 9, 2009, 3:21am

Those who want to adopt a child may find the process more complicated and more expensive if the child was born outside Illinois.

The reason is a law known as the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, which is the law in all 50 states. The child welfare agencies in each state must approve of the child leaving the state of birth and going to the state where the child is to be adopted. The Compact does not apply to most related or agency adoptions.

Before an interstate adoption placement can begin, the adoptive parents' attorney must contact the "Compact" administrators of the local child welfare agency. Adoptive parents must complete several documents, including applications, affidavits about all persons involved, consents and a home study visit.

In addition to using an Illinois lawyer, it may be advisable to use a lawyer in the other state who is familiar with their laws and procedures. For example, Iowa law requires a "release of custody" (similar to an Illinois "consent to adoption") to terminate parent rights and allow an interstate placement. Under Iowa law, a birth parent has 96 hours after signing a release to revoke it for any reason. Illinois has no such revocation period.

Adopting parents cannot leave the state of birth with an adoptive child until there is Compact approval. Therefore, it is a good idea to start the approval process as soon as possible, especially in the case of a newborn so that the bonding of the birth mother to the baby can be kept at a minimum.

Failure to comply with the Compact is a crime punishable by imprisonment. Also, the Illinois court may deny the adoption if there has not been compliance with the Compact.

Not all lawyers in general practice have experience handling adoptions, especially interstate adoptions. If the adoption involves bringing a child across state lines, the adoptive parents should seek out an attorney who has direct experience with the Compact.

For further information about law-related issues, contact an Illinois State Bar Association member-lawyer in your area or visit

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