Adoption Assistance


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The Adoption Assistance Program is available to families who adopt children with special needs who would otherwise remain in foster care, or who meet the criteria for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance outlined in section 473 of the Social Security Act. A child meets the special needs definition if the following criteria are met:

  • A child who has or who is at high risk of having physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral disabilities that make it difficult to be adopted. For the purposes of this program, a child who meets the special definition “barrier to adopt” also refers to children who are siblings to be adopted at the same time by the same parent(s), or a child who is placed for adoption in the home of parent(s) who previously adopted a sibling for whom they receive Adoption Assistance.

  • A child placing agency has made reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption without Adoption Assistance, but has been unsuccessful.

  • There has been a determination that a child cannot or should not be returned to the home of their parent(s)
How to obtain Adoption Assistance
The child placing agency and the prospective family assess the level of support necessary to meet a child’s special needs. The child placing agency then completes the Adoption Assistance application and sends all supporting documentations to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Adoption Assistance Program, for approval or denial.

Adoption Assistance Agreement
An Adoption Assistance Agreement is a legal contract that sets forth the rights and responsibilities of each of the parties involved in an Adoption Assistance Agreement. These parties include the adoptive parent(s), a representative of the child placing agency, and an authorized representative of the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). All parties must sign the agreement before an adoption decree is granted. The agreement remains in effect until a child reaches 18 years of age, unless one of the following events occurs:
  • The adoptive parent(s) ask for termination of the agreement

  • The adoptive parent(s) are no longer legally responsible for a child, or the commissioner determines that a child no longer depends on the adoptive parent(s) for care and support

  • A child or adoptive parent(s) dies.
The Adoption Assistance Agreement may be amended to remain in effect to age 22 if:
  • A child’s special needs continue and they remain dependent on adoptive parent(s) for care and financial support, and

  • A child is enrolled in a secondary education program as a fulltime student, or

  • A child is incapable of self-sustaining employment because of their physical or mental disability on which Adoption Assistance was based.
Adoptive parents have the right to appeal an adoption assistance decision that discontinues or modifies the agreement. The appeal must be in writing to the commissioner of Human Services within 30 days of receiving written notice that the agreement was modified, discontinued, or denied – or within 90 days if the adoptive parent(s) show good cause why additional time was required.

Parents can receive payment or reimbursement for certain nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption. Below are the allowed expenses and the limit per child.
The reimbursement limit is $2,000 per child.

To be reimbursed, costs must be reasonable, necessary, and directly related to the legal adoption of a child. Reimbursable costs include: agency adoption fees (including health and psychological exams); transportation, food, and lodging for child and adoptive parents necessary to complete the adoptive placement or the legal adoption process; court costs related to finalization of the adoption; replacement birth certificate fees; and fees for copies of the adoption decree.
Contact the child placing agency to complete the certification and agreement. Please note, a non-recurring adoption expense reimbursement agreement must be approved by DHS prior to the finalization of the adoption.
All children adopted with Adoption Assistance Agreements from Minnesota have non-recurring adoption expense reimbursement built into their adoption assistance agreement; it is not necessary to execute a separate agreement for these children

If the family moves to another state the Adoption Assistance Agreement remains in effect as long as the family complies with the conditions of the agreement.

State Adoption Assistance Contact Person
Tamera VanMoer (policy questions for initial Adoption Assistance eligibility)
Department of Human Services
PO Box 64944
St. Paul MN 55164-0944
Phone: 651-431-4989
Fax: 651-431-7627

Paulette Lonzo (policy questions for Adoption Assistance)
Department of Human Services
PO Box 64944
St. Paul MN 55164-0944
Phone: 651-431-4716
Fax: 651-431-7627

Adoption Resources on the Web
See related links under Children/Adoption at:

Adoption Assistance Questions & Answers


updated 5/2013