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Adopting a Child from Outside Utah - Avoiding the ICPC

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

If you are interested in adopting a child that lives or recently lived outside of Utah, this post is for you. The ICPC is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, a law that requires interstate coordination before a child is moved across state lines "as a preliminary to adoption." Let's look at scenarios where a guardianship or ICPC processing may be required:

Scenario 1: Let's assume the child was born in State A and is in State A custody (i.e., a foster child), and you want to bring the child to be adopted in Utah. The ICPC offices in State A and Utah will coordinate. There is a bit of paperwork. Essentially, State A wants to make sure the Utah home is a good placement for their little State A citizen. The good news is that the two state agencies deal with the paperwork in this situation.

Scenario 2: Next, assume there is no State custody; rather, the child is in the custody of Mom, Dad, a relative or a guardian in State A. And assume you want that child brought to Utah so you--a relative--can adopt that little State A citizen. Typically, the ICPC applies in situations where a child is being moved across state lines for the purpose of adoption or foster care. But the ICPC does not apply to "the sending or bringing of a child into a receiving state by his parent, step-parent, grandparent, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or his guardian and leaving the child with any such relative or nonagency guardian in the receiving state." U.C.A. 80-2-905, Art. VIII. The idea here is that we trust families to place their children with safe family members.

Scenario 3: Same as Scenario 2 but now assume you are not a relative or guardian of the child being brought to Utah. To avoid the ICPC, you need to become a guardian. For a temporary placement, the out-of-state custodial parent can sign a power of attorney giving you guardianship for up to six months; however, the Utah guardianship statute says out-of-state, power-of-attorney guardianships are "not valid in the state of Utah until reviewed and approved by a Utah court." (U.C.A. 75-5-201) And while the Utah Adoption Act does not define "guardian," the Utah Juvenile Code, which governs termination of parental rights, defines "guardian" as "a person appointed by a court." So, a power-of-attorney is not sufficient. On the other hand, a court-ordered guardianship from State A is likely valid and will probably not trigger the ICPC.

Scenario 4: Another situation where the ICPC may be avoided is where the custodial parent moves to Utah for a legitimate, non-adoption purpose and later consents to the adoption. Since there is no interstate "placement," the ICPC would not apply; but the purpose of the move must be for something other than "placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption."

Scenario 5: The ICPC will not apply if the birth mother gives birth in Utah and the adoption case is filed in Utah. Adoption agencies frequently pay to have birth mothers come to Utah for the labor and delivery.

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