There are additional requirements to satisfy if you are adopting a child out of state. The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) has existed for more than forty years and provides instructions for adoptions where a child is to be transferred across state lines. All U.S. states are members of the Compact and follow the same procedures. The state where the child presently resides or is born in must approve of the transfer across the state lines for placement or adoption. A copy of the approval is then submitted to the court for filing in the state where the adoption will ultimately take place. In order to get approval, a packet must be created with relevant information on the child or adoptee, the prospective parent(s) and the intended place of residence. ICPC-100A “Interstate Compact Placement Request” is a sample form evidencing the information to be provided.

If the sending state is satisfied with the placement request it will forward the request to the receiving state for their review as well. The receiving state would be responsible for having a home study completed for the intended residence. If the receiving state is satisfied following the home study, it notifies the sending state and sends them a copy of the home study. At that time, following approval by both states involved, the interstate adoption may be completed. The Pennsylvania office of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children is located in Harrisburg and can be reached at (717)772-5503 for non-agency placements, or (717)772-5502 for agency placements.

Adoption records are generally sealed and not available for public inspection. In Pennsylvania, a petition must be filed with the court in order to obtain adoption records. The correct place to file a petition is the same court which handled the initial adoption matter. An adoptee over the age of 18 may file a petition or in the case of a minor adoptee, the adoptive parents or their guardian. The court, if they believe the request is warranted, will only release limited information. Specifically, they will not release information on the identity of the natural parent(s) unless the natural parent(s) are first contacted and give their consent to disclose their identity. Often, it is the county’s social service agency, such as Children and Youth, that is responsible to reach out to the natural parent(s) on the court’s behalf regarding any petition to access the identity of the natural parent(s).

If an agency was involved in the adoption, a request can also be made through the agency for information on the natural parent(s). The agencies have the same requirement as the courts in terms of getting permission of the natural parent(s) first. It is also possible for the natural parents to agree to disclosure prior to any request coming from the adoptee. At any point subsequent to their termination of parental rights, they may file a consent for the initial birth certificate to be released to adoptee over 18 or their parent or guardian if requested. This consent can subsequently be withdrawn if their decision on disclosure later changes. Consent of both natural parents is needed to see the full record. If only one parent consents, the other parent’s information would be redacted.