Minnesota and Federal Legislation
Related to Adoption
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act is a new federal law that allows child welfare workers information about a child's education history needed to make informed placement recommendations. Schools much comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that is now amended to allow agencies to obtain educational records from schools in cases involving children in foster care.
For more information including a guide written by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law: http://www.fostercareandeducation.org/portals/0/dmx/2013/02/file_20130211_145758_xjnFqt_0.pdf
Care Legislation enacted in 2012 in Minnesota impacts
relative searches and placement decisions regarding “best
interests of the child.”
For a recap:
August 1, 2012 changes to Minnesota law regarding
continuing foster care past age 18 ("extended foster care")
will go into effect. Youth are ineligible if they can safely
return home, receive adult services due to developmental
disability, be adopted, or have a permanent legal home with
a relative prior to age 18. Other requirement apply. For a
Summary of Minnesota Adoption Assistance Legislation that addresses eligibility, added requirements, benefits and payments, and more: • DHS Policy Bulletin 12-68-08 Summary of Adoption Assistance Legislation http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/groups/publications/documents/pub/dhs16_169948.pdf
Post Adoption Services for genetic siblings separated by
Significance: Siblings separated through adoption have a
means to seek post adoption search services through 259.83
Subd. 1B Post Adoption Services.
Agencies shall provide assistance and counseling services if
current information is requested from or about a sibling if
the request comes from an adoptive parent, birth parent, or
an adopted person aged 19 and over. The agency shall contact
the other adult persons or the adoptive parents of a minor
child in a personal and confidential manner to determine
whether there is a desire to receive or share information or
to have contact. If there is such a desire, the agency shall
provide the services requested. The agency shall provide
services to adult genetic siblings if there is no known
violation of the confidentiality of a birth parent or if the
birth parent gives written consent.
Subd. 1b.Genetic siblings.
(a) A person who is at least 19 years old who was adopted
or, because of a termination of parental rights, was
committed to the guardianship of the commissioner of human
services, whether adopted or not, must upon request be
advised of other siblings who were adopted or who were
committed to the guardianship of the commissioner of human
services and not adopted.
(b) Assistance must be provided by the county or placing
agency of the person requesting information to the extent
that information is available in the existing records at the
Department of Human Services. If the sibling received
services from another agency, the agencies must share
necessary information in order to locate the other siblings
and to offer services, as requested. Upon the determination
that parental rights with respect to another sibling were
terminated, identifying information and contact must be
provided only upon mutual consent. A reasonable fee may be
imposed by the county or placing agency.
Education Bill Benefits
Youth Adopted from Foster System
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, signed by President George W. Bush on September 27, 2007
Oct. 1, 2007), includes an amendment that makes college more financially accessible for youth who were in foster care. Under this new law, youth adopted from the foster care system after their 13th birthday will not have to include their parents' income in the calculations for determining their need for financial aid. This critical amendment in the Act benefits youth adopted after age 13 who spent any time in foster care to have their financial aid eligibility be determined solely by the student's ability to pay, regardless of his or her adoptive family's income level. This measure assists families who adopt teenagers and who may not have been able to accumulate a college savings account for them. The law will also provide loan forgiveness to child welfare workers.
To read the new law, go to: thomas.loc.gov and click on the link "Public Laws" and view the public law ranging from 110-51 to 110-86.
Not sure who your representatives
are? Find your state representative or senator through
Minnesota Secretary of State.
651-296-2146 or 800-657-3550
651-296-0504 or 800-234-1112
Flexible Medical Coverage for Adoptive
A new law was passed in the 2003 legislative session that
exempts children who receive adoption assistance from the
Prepaid Medical Assistance Program. Families now have a
choice of health coverage for their children, which means that
children can continue to see the same professionals they did
while in foster care.
House File 151 was introduced in the House by
Representatives Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) and in the Senate
by Senator Dennis Frederickson (R-New Ulm). It was
signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty on May 23 and becomes
effective on July 1, 2003.
History: In January 2002, Minnesota
families with children who receive adoption assistance
received letters from the state that required them to select a
prepaid health maintenance organization (HMO) or be assigned
to one by the state. Families were not allowed to stay
on the straight Medical Assistance (MA) fee-for-service
program, unless they applied for and received a waiver. HF 151 offers families a choice of medical coverage.
Finding medical or dental providers or adoption-competent
mental health services is often difficult for families who
have children with special needs. It becomes even more
difficult in greater Minnesota. HF 151 allows families
the flexibility to choose Medical Assistance providers who are
not associated with a pre-selected HMO. Often, these are
the providers the child has come to trust when in foster care
or with whom the child has a history.
Jeff Ronning, an adoptive parent from Marshall, MN, was
instrumental in getting this bill introduced in the House.
Ronning saw other adoptive families struggle when their new
health plan would not cover the therapists their children had
come to trust. His family chose to drive to the Twin
Cities for dental care when their local clinic would no longer
accept their MA card on behalf of their two boys. As a
result, Ronning met with Representative Seifert in his home
district, and sent letters and called both his legislators
about the struggles over coverage for Minnesota's adopted
children with special needs.
In addition, parents working through the Minnesota Foster Doll
Project contacted their legislators to voice support of HF 151
and the companion Senate Bill, SF 396. "After the
termination, so many things change in a child's life; it's
wonderful that we can maintain the same health coverage for
our children," states Judy Howell, President of the Minnesota
Foster Care Association. "It's a win-win bill for
Budget analysts with the Minnesota Department of Human
Services and the House of Representatives analyzed the fiscal
implications of the added flexibility for families and
determined HF 151 was a no-cost bill. Overall, this
legislation allows for a wider range of medical coverage for
the children adopted from the child welfare system.
How Can I Change My Child's Coverage?
The law becomes effective on July 1, 2003. In
time, families will receive direction from the Minnesota
Department of Human Services Medical Assistance Office on how
they can make changes to their current coverage, if they
desire. Parents should contact their local agency or
worker to change from managed care to Medical Assistance
fee-for-service; coverage will not automatically be
changed. It may also take time before county and
private agency workers become familiar with the new law, so
parents may need to educate their workers about the law change
and advocate for a change in their family.
New Custody Law
Impacts Kinship Adoption: Governor Tim Pawlenty
recently signed a bill that modified last year's Defacto
Custodian and Interested Third Party Law. The defacto
law provided that custody could be contained in three ways:
The law provides that in certain cases third parties such as
grandparents and kinship providers can approach the court on a
basis equal to parents in seeking custody of a child. A third
party may file a petition for custody if it can be proven the
parent has abandoned or neglected the child; placement of the
child with the third party takes priority over preserving the
day-to-day parent-child relationship due to the presence of
physical or emotional danger; or any other extraordinary
circumstances. Not designed to impinge on parental
rights, the law affects situations in which a third party has
parented a child for an extended period of time or in
instances of neglect or abandonment. A defacto custodian
is defined as someone who has cared for a child without a
parent's consistent participation for a period of six months
or more if the child is younger than three years, and for a
period of one year or more if the child is three or over.
One important aspect to the law is that it clarifies that the
time period no longer needs to be consecutive, but can be
Kinship providers can learn more about this law from
www.mkca.org where they can
download Legal Steps, the 2003 edition of the Kinship
Caregiver Resource Manual.
Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Expenses
Significance: Minnesota administers a one-time federal
payment program not to exceed $2000 that helps families who
are adopting children with special needs. This subsidy is
available to parents of children adopted either from America
or adopted internationally.
In order to qualify for the one-time Reimbursement of
- Parental rights of the
child's birthparents must have been terminated.
- The child must have one or
more of the following special needs:
- Be a member of a sibling group who have been placed
together and one sibling must be older than 15 months.
- Have documented physical, emotional, mental or
- Have a fragile background history indicating high
risk for developing physical, emotional, mental or
- Efforts to place the child
without this reimbursement must be demonstrated.
- No violation of Minnesota or
federal law regarding adoptions occurred.
Costs refundable include:
- Agency adoption fees,
including psychological and health evaluations
- Agency supervision of the
- Transportation, food and
lodging for the child and adoptive parents necessary to
complete the adoptive placement or the legal adoption
- Court filing fees
- Attorney fees
- Replacement birth certificate
The Minnesota Department of Human
Services must approve the Nonrecurring Adoption Expense
Agreement BEFORE the adoption is finalized in court.
TIME LIMIT: Claims
for reimbursement must be submitted within 21 months of the
To get agreement forms and certifications, send a
self-addressed stamped business size envelope to:
Adoption Reimbursement Forms
Minnesota Department of Human Services
444 Lafayette Road North
St. Paul MN 55155-3831
Need more information? Call: 651-215-9415
For more information about subsidies:
For information on Adoption Subsidy:
Adoption Advocates provides a checklist and guidelines for
IV-E Adoption Assistance and State Adoption Subsidies:
Adoption and Financial Assistance:
Tools for Navigating the Bureaucracy by Rita Laws and
Tim O'Hanlon helps parents and professionals understand
federal adoption assistance.
Available from Tapestry Books,
Reprinted from Pact 4's newsletter Focus (Vol. 2,
2200 23rd Street NE, Suite 2030; Willmar, MN 56201.
Phone: 800-960-7228 or 320-231-7030.
Significance: Parents of children diagnosed with autism
may be able to gain county assistance. The Legislature amended
the Comprehensive Mental Health Act to make counties
responsible for children's mental health crisis services and
increased annual county grant funds for that purpose by
$500,000 statewide. Medical Assistance coverage was expanded
to include applied behavioral therapy services for children
with autism, effective January 1, 2003. By fiscal year 2005,
the state share for these services is expected to rise to $3.7
million annually, with higher amounts possible in subsequent
Legislation passed in Minnesota in 2001 promises to improve
services for children and families. You can find the full text
of the Children's Mental Health bill at
and look for Special Session SF4, Art.9, Sec. 18.
Citizenship Act Of 2000
Significance: Until the Child Citizenship Act of 2000,
children adopted internationally were required to go through
the process of becoming a United States citizen. Some children
never completed the process and as adults were denied
privileges such as voting. In some cases, adopted persons have
been deported as non-citizens to countries in which they were
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 grants automatic citizenship
to children born abroad if they:
- Are under the age of 18.
- Are admitted to the U.S. as a
lawful permanent resident
- Are in the legal and physical
custody of at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Children adopted abroad
automatically become a U.S. citizen once they legally enter
the United States. Children entering the U.S. on an orphan
visa but whose adoption will be finalized in this country will
granted automatic citizenship on the day their adoption is
finalized. Children under 18 who had naturalization
applications pending with INS were granted automatic
citizenship on the day the law took effect. (February 27,
2001) Adoptive parents may apply for paperwork from the
Immigration and Naturalization Service to verify their
child's U.S. citizenship.
Contract Agreements Between Adoptive and Birth Families
Significance: Under a new Minnesota law, Legalized
Communication or Contact Agreements can be entered into to
provide protections for all parties who agree in a written
"contract" to continue contact after an adoption occurs.
Open adoption, kinship adoption and fost-adopt have
traditionally included informal, non-enforceable verbal
agreements regarding ongoing contact between participants.
Such agreements have hinged on a level of trust that has
developed between parties who view ongoing contact with the
family of origin as being beneficial to the child. Or, the
adoptive parents may continue to allow for the visitation of a
child with birth family relatives with some restrictions
imposed. While such arrangements may be based on "a
promise" or "good will," because they are informal they
would not hold up in a court of law.
Minnesota Statute §259.58 addresses the issue of enforcing
agreements for post adoption contact made between birth and
adoptive families. Contact agreements that are entered into a
court of law at the time of the adoption decree will be
enforced in family court. Agreements may be made between the
adoptive parents and a) birth relatives with whom the child
resided before being adopted, and b) any birth relative if the
child is being adopted by another birth relative in cases of
the death of both birth parents.
In order for the agreement to be enforceable:
- The agreement terms must be in
contained in a written court law.
- An order may be requested at
the time before an adoption is granted, but must be issued
within 30 days of being requested or 30 days after the
adoption, whichever is earlier.
- Terms must be approved in
writing by the adoptive parents, birth parents/relatives
and an agency is the child is under the custody or
guardianship of an agency. A birthparent must approve
contact between a relative and adoptive parents in some
- The identity of the parties
need not be disclosed to make the agreement enforceable.
- The court must find the
agreement is in the child's best interests.
- The court shall mail a
certified copy of the order to the parties or to their
Significance: Any adoption that bypasses a child's
birthfather for any reason may be at legal risk. Before an
adoption takes place, it is important to take appropriate
legal steps to include and inform the birthfather. In response
to some high profile cases in which adoptions have been
disrupted, some states have established a registry for
Adoption Registry provides a way for
a birthfather to take steps... should he wish to... have a say
in the adoption. Failure to register may bar the birthfather
from disrupting an adoption.
Minnesota Statutes 259.52, Subdivision 2, and Minnesota
Supreme Court Adoption Rule 32.01,stipulate that a
search of the Minnesota Father Adoption Registry
must be completed, prior to the finalization of any adoption
in Minnesota. The required search may not be
conducted sooner than 31 days after the birth of the child.
Searches are processed in the order received, and the
results are generally returned in 38 - 45
days after the child’s birth.
Minnesota Father Adoption Registry searches
are required for all adoptions that are finalized in
Minnesota, with the exception of the initial adoption of a
foreign born child, and include the following:
o Step-parent adoptions
o Adoptions resulting from child protection cases or
o Infant adoptions
o Relative adoptions
o Adoptions facilitated by attorneys
o Adoptions of children born out of state, but finalized in
o Subsequent step-parent adoptions of foreign born children
o For Safe Haven babies left at hospitals, under supervision
of county social services
MFAR searches must be completed, even if a
consent-to-adoption form has been previously signed, by a
father listed on the birth record of a given child, or for a
placement involving an infant, directly from the hospital.
Putative fathers must register with the MFAR within 30 days
of the child’s birth. Failure to register is considered to
be prima facie evidence of sufficient grounds to support
termination of the putative father’s parental rights under
Minnesota Statutes 260C.301, Subdivision 1.
A putative father who registers within 30 days of his
child’s birth, or can show good cause to the court as to why
he did not, must be served by certified mail, a notice to
registered putative father.
The interested party or the party’s attorney must provide
information to the father about the jurisdiction, date where
the petition will be filed. Once the putative father
receives notice of the hearing, he has an additional 30 days
to file intent to claim parental rights form, stating that
he intends to initiate a paternity action. If the father
fails to complete these actions within the required
timeframe, he may permanently forfeit his right to notice of
the hearing in any judicial proceeding related to the child,
and is considered to have abandoned the child. Minnesota
Statutes 259.52, Subdivision 10.
Notice of Registration
Minnesota Statutes 259.52, Subdivision 1, paragraph (c)
directs that the mother of a child for whom a putative
father has registered, shall be notified of his registration
no later than 14 days following the filing of his
registration with the putative fathers registry, providing
the putative father has submitted contact information for
Any birthfather who believes that he may be the father of a
child and who wishes to receive notice of the child's
adoption must register with the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption
If a man wishes to veto an adoption plan or otherwise assert
parental rights to a child, he must:
- File a paternity action within
30 days after his child's birth or...
- If he is registered, after
getting a father's adoption registry notice, he must
begin a paternity action within 30 days.
- If a man does not register
within 30 days of the child's birth and still wishes to
register, he must prove that it as impossible for him to
register and that the impossibility was not his fault.
Information included in the registry or claim:
- Name, address, social security
number, date of birth of putative father and birth mother
- If applicable, certified copy
of court order adjudicating putative father to be the
- Child's name, gender, place
of birth or anticipated date of birth
- Registration date
- Other information deemed
All information is sent to the
birthmother. The attorney for the adoptive parents can access
the information, but the notice of registration does not go to
the adoptive parents.
To register, contact:
Fathers' Adoption Registry
Minnesota Department of Health
717 Delaware Street SE
PO Box 9441
Minneapolis, MN 55440
612-676-4060 or 888-345-1726 toll free
Indigent birthfathers who are registered are entitled to free
lawyers through the public defender system.
Birthfathers' Rights in Adoption: A Minnesota
Perspective, Walling & Berg, PA.
Allowable To Be Paid to Birthparents in an Adoption
Significance: Although some
living and health-related expenses for birthparents may be
paid by adoptive or adopting parents, Minnesota imposes
restrictions to prevent "baby selling" and to protect both
the adoptive parents and birthparents.
The following expenses may be paid
- Counseling (paid directly to
the provider of the service.)
- Medical expenses (paid
directly to the provider of the service.)
- Legal fees (paid directly to
the provider of the service.)
- Transportation, meals and
lodging (incurred for placement of
the child or in order to receive counseling, legal or
medical services related to pregnancy, birth or
- Adoption services provided by
agency (at the request of the birthparent, paid directly
- Reasonable living expenses (if
needed to maintain an adequate standard of living which
the birthmother is unable to otherwise maintain because of
loss of income or other support resulting from the
- Payments for living expenses
cannot extend beyond 6 weeks after delivery (unless the
court determines within the 6-week period that the
birthmother is unable to be employed due to physical
limitations related to birth of the child.)
- Does not include lost wages,
gifts, educational expenses or other similar expenses.
It is a gross misdemeanor for a
person to give money or anything of value to the birth parent
if the person is engaged or has engaged in any placement
It is a gross misdemeanor to give or accept payment for the
placement of a child for adoption.
A contract purporting to require a birthparent to reimburse
expenses paid by the adoptive parents if the birthparent
refuses to consent to adoption is void.
A licensed agency may receive payment for:
- Expenses related to adoption
- Provision of services
- Supervision of children before
legal adoption is complete
- Birth parent expenses.
The information contained in this site is not written by legal
professionals and is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of your lawyer or other qualified legal
Nothing contained in this site is intended to be a substitute
for legal counsel. Information on this site is
provided as a service only. MN Adopt accepts no liability for
lack of accuracy of the information on this site nor for its
page updated May 2013