Below are frequently asked questions about adopting children in Minnesota foster care. If you have additional questions, Foster Adopt Minnesota is here to help!
Where do I start?
Making the decision to move forward with adoption is often accompanied by lots of questions! Foster Adopt Minnesota has created a short document that helps lay out these steps (Adoption Process). We also encourage you to contact us directly at 612-861-7115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How much does it cost to adopt a Minnesota child from foster care?
The State of Minnesota has a strong commitment to ensuring Minnesota children in foster care have the best opportunity to find a permanent family. There are programs available to cover a variety of adoption related costs. The State contracts with private adoption agencies, to subsidize the cost of placement services so that families incur limited adoption related fees.
Additionally, families can receive a one-time reimbursement after an adoption is completed, which covers court or travel fees incurred through the adoption process.
How long is the wait?
The adoption timeline can vary, and may be dependent on some of the following factors:
- When adoption trainings are available;
- Your speed in determining which agency you would like to work with;
- Your speed in completing the application paperwork and meeting foster care requirements;
- How long it takes for your chosen agency to assign an adoption worker;
- Your ability to meet with your adoption worker during business hours;
- Family openness to the needs of waiting children. Those who are open to sibling groups, older children and children with higher needs may experience a shorter wait.
- Background checks; clearance can take longer if you have lived in another state, or if you have a criminal history.
How old are the kids?
In general, Minnesota’s waiting children are school aged, with approximately 40% of those waiting being between the ages of 12 and 18. Learn more about Minnesota children in need of families.
What type of family can adopt?
Adoptive families are as unique and diverse as any other family! The most important factor is the ability for parents to meet the needs of the children.
Below are a few examples of some of the types of people/families who adopt:
- Parents of any age, with a minimum age requirement of 21;
- Single persons, married couples, and couples living together;
- Families parenting biological children;
- Families parenting other children who were adopted;
- Families who have minimal or no parenting experience;
- Families and individuals of any identified gender or sexual orientation;
- Military families;
- Interracial families;
- Religious and non-religious families;
- Families with physical, medical or mental health challenges, provided they are being well managed;
- Families with varying financial resources.
Can I adopt if I don’t own my home?
Yes! You do not need to own a home to adopt a child. Your dwelling will have to meet specific licensing requirements. Some examples include having space for a child (e.g. a room with a bed and dresser) and having a dining area large enough for the whole family. Click here for more information on licensing requirements: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=2960
I have a criminal history, will I be allowed to adopt?
Ensuring the safety of a child is the top priority when placing a child into an adoptive home. Based on this, there are specific barriers to adoption that include a potential adopter’s criminal record.
Some families who have a police record are able to successfully adopt if their crime did not result in a barrier conviction. However, any criminal record is reviewed by the licensing entity on an individual basis, with an important factor being when the incident occurred and the current situation of the family.
It is important to be honest with your agency and worker about any criminal history that does exist, as failure to do so will likely lead to you being disapproved for adoption.
To learn more about criminal barriers to foster care and adoption, please visit: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=245C.15
What is a home study?
A home study is the process that evaluates your family as an adoptive resource for a child. The final product of this process is a written report, as required by Minnesota law for all prospective adoptive families.
The following are important components of the home study process:
- Educate and prepare the prospective adoptive family about the adoption process;
- Ability for the adoption worker to better understand the family in order to best advocate for them throughout their process;
- Assess the suitability of the prospective adoptive family in being able to meet the needs of identified child(ren);
- To compile information about the prospective adoptive family that will aide adoption workers in matching the family with a child(ren) whose needs they can best meet;
Although not specific only to the Minnesota Home Study process, this document will provide you additional insight and information into the process: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_homstu.pdf#page=1&view=Introduction]
How long will the home study take?
The home study process can vary greatly, depending on several factors, including how efficient you are in completing the required paperwork, training schedule, timeline to be assigned a worker, and your flexibility to meet with your worker during regular business hours. You should expect the home study process to take a minimum of six months from the time you submit an application with an agency.
Why do I need to be licensed for foster care? What are the requirements?
Families who adopt a child who is under the Guardianship of the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services must be licensed for foster care from the time the child enters their care until the adoption is finalized in court. This ensures that any family caring for a child under state guardianship before an adoption is finalized meet specific requirements.
Your adoption worker will explain the requirements for licensing your home for foster care. You might be asked to make small changes to your home, such as obtaining a fire inspection, a well water test, buying a fire ladder, or providing your worker with updated pet shot records.
Review Minnesota’s Foster Care requirements here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=2960.
What is Adoption Assistance?
Northstar Care for Children is Minnesota’s adoption assistance program. The purpose of the program is to provide financial assistance that allows families to meet the varying needs of the children they adopt.
The amount of the assistance varies and is dependent on many factors, including the age of the child and their medical or mental health needs.
What is Medical Assistance?
Medical Assistance is a federally funded insurance program that is available to children who are adopted from foster care. Families who adopt Minnesota children from foster care will be able to utilize Medical Assistance in conjunction with their primary insurance (if applicable), allowing them to meet their child’s medical, dental and mental health needs.
Will I be able to meet a child before I decide to adopt them?
Generally, the answer is no. Children in foster care have experienced a great deal of loss, which often makes meeting prospective families a stressful and difficult experience. Because of this, families are asked to make a commitment to a child(ren) prior to meeting them.
In order to make this commitment, families are provided extensive information through written histories and meetings with adults in the child(ren)’s life, which may include foster parents, teachers, and therapists. In some cases, it is possible to view videos of the children to give a better sense of their personalities.
Read more about the matching process here
What can I do to best prepare to parent a child who has experienced tough beginnings?
The timeline between home study completion and match or placement provides a great opportunity for families to further educate themselves about the needs of the child that may be joining their family.
Below are some examples of activities that can be helpful to families during this period:
- Reading nonfiction and fiction books related to adoption and parenting;
- Attend online and live workshops: https://fosteradoptmn.org/education/;
- Participate in support groups: https://fosteradoptmn.org/support-groups/;
- Seek out opportunities to get to know other families who have adopted from foster care;
- Talk to your adoption worker about other ways in which you can prepare, such as exploring becoming a respite provider, which would allow you to engage with other families and get first-hand experience caring for a child(ren) with varying needs;
What resources will be available after I finalize?
The State of Minnesota is committed to supporting adoptive families after finalization. By providing a variety of post-adoption supportive services, families are equipped with the supports needed to promote success for the years ahead.
Examples of Minnesota’s post-adoption services include:
- Foster Adopt Minnesota’s supportive services, including: resource packed website, Education Program, HELP Program: fosteradoptmn.org
- North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) and Adoption Support Network (ASN): https://nacac.org/about-nacac/
Will my child have an ongoing relationship with their birth family?
Regardless of the reason for adoption, many children have important people in their lives they may want to maintain contact with. When appropriate, supporting these relationships can benefit both your child and your family by providing a sense of history, identity and the ability to create new interactions.
Examples of ongoing relationships may include:
- Birth parents
- Extended birth family members
- Foster care providers
- Additional people considered important to the child
Siblings are the most commonly identified connection to be maintained. Families should also expect that even if contact with birth family is not formally maintained, teens will often explore connections on their own through social media and other informal networks.
Families who have questions or concerns about these types of potential connections are encouraged to talk with their worker and/or contact the Foster Adopt Minnesota HELP Program at email@example.com or 612-746-5137