Adoption Q&A # 20
Interim Adoptive Placements
In April 2008, legislation became effective which permits an out-of-state couple to take placement of a child prior to a final termination of parental rights hearing. Under the previous law, children either went home with birth parents until the termination of parental rights hearing or, more commonly, were placed in a receiving home licensed by a child welfare agency. There are currently several options for placement now available.
- The child may be placed in a receiving home which is licensed by a child welfare agency. While in the receiving home, both birth parents and prospective adoptive parents may visit the child. Arrangements are made through the child welfare agency and the foster home for such visits. Frequency and length of visits depends on the policy of the child welfare agency and the schedule flexibility of the foster home.
- If the prospective adoptive couple has a completed home study which meets Wisconsin legal requirements, the prospective adoptive parents may be permitted to take physical placement prior to the termination of parental rights hearing. Legal custody is with the mother. Physical custody is with the prospective adoptive parents. Oversight responsibility remains with the child welfare agency under a Voluntary Placement Agreement signed by the birth mother. The child must remain in the state under that arrangement. This is the most commonly used alternative.
- If certain qualifications are met, the adopting parents may be able to return to their home state pending the outcome of the termination of the parental rights hearing. In order to qualify to do so, the following items must be satisfied:
- The birth mother must consent; that would mean she is relinquishing her right to visit the child up to the time of the court hearing.
- The child welfare agency with placement and supervision responsibility must consent.
- The Interstate Compact for Placement of Children Office must receive appropriate paperwork and give its approval.
- The Interstate Compact for Placement of Children Office in the home state of the adopting couple must accept interim paperwork and grant approval of the return prior to the court hearing.
- Written evidence confirming that the child will be covered by the health insurance of the adopting parent from the date of physical placement must be received. This item is often difficult to satisfy. In Wisconsin the law requires insurance coverage to begin when the court terminates parental rights and/or grants legal placement approval to the adoptive parents.
- Because additional legal work, approvals and paperwork are required prospective adoptive parents seeking an interim return should expect additional legal and agency fees to be charged for the additional work required.
- This option takes several days or weeks to accomplish. Often the time it takes to obtain approval leaves little time to return home.
It should be noted that a return home prior to the time of the termination of parental rights hearing and placement approval hearing is the exception, not the rule. Neither birth mother nor prospective adoptive parents should expect that prospective adoptive parents will return to their state of residence with the child prior to the court hearing. Prospective adoptive parents must also expect to return to Wisconsin for the placement approval hearing if it is a private placement case. It is also possible that although every effort will be made to facilitate an early return home, all the necessary approvals or documentation requirements may not be met or met on a timely basis. The prospective adoptive parents may return home without the child and then return for the court hearing. All parties will need to exercise patience and self restraint as efforts are made to obtain clearance.
Even though initial ICPC approval is obtained to return home, paperwork will need to be submitted for a final ICPC approval after the termination of parental rights hearing. When the case is concluded it is necessary to have a copy of the Order of Adoption sent to the attorney who will then close out the Wisconsin end of the case.
June 4, 2009.
Stephen W. Hayes, Esq.
Elizabeth A. Neary, Esq.
Grady, Hayes & Neary, LLC