Please see the
Department of Human Services website for more information.
- A wise first step in beginning the adoption process is to attend a
free information or orientation meeting. Most agencies offer
orientations that are generally open to the public.
- Many agencies require prospective adoptive and foster families to
attend training classes designed to equip families with the tools they
will need to parent children with special needs. Training classes
are offered statewide, and most classes range between 12 and 20 hours. Families
often receive training provided by one qualified organization and
continue the adoption process with a second organization.
MARN Pre-adoption Training page publishes the training schedules for
many Minnesota agencies. Whether a family works with a public
agency or a private agency, they will need to inquire about the agency's
- At the conclusion of training, families who choose to continue the
process of becoming a resource for a child must submit an application
for either adoption or foster care. Those families pursuing foster
care must work with their county social service agency. The
requirements may vary depending on the county of residence. If
pursuing adoption, a family may choose to work with a
private agency or
a county social service agency.
- The social worker will guide the family through the process of
completing the paperwork. The timeline for completion of a homestudy may vary depending on the social worker's caseload; how
promptly the family returns paperwork; and/or on the flexibility of the
family's schedule in accommodating home visits.
- Once the information is gathered by the family social worker, it may
take several weeks for the homestudy to be written. During this period
the family may begin to identify children they are interested in by reading the
Star Tribune waiting child column or by
watching Thursday's Child
(broadcast on KSTP). They may
also take the this time to gain more information about children with
special needs, to attend educational seminars and training classes, and
to connect with parent support groups.
- Once the homestudy is complete, the family's social worker will
present it to the social workers of the children in whom they have an
interest. In some counties, the homestudy may be made available to
all guardianship or child social workers. Adoptive families will
also be registered on the Minnesota State Adoption Exchange.
- The process up to this point can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months,
depending on the agency. It is important for the adoptive family to be
active in this part of the process. It is not the family social worker's
responsibility to seek out a child.
Waiting for placement can be a frustrating time for families. During
this period, many families choose to prepare a "life book" about their
family to share with children during future pre-placement visits.
- Once a family has been selected as a potential good fit for a
child, detailed information about the child's past will be shared with
the family. It is crucial at this stage to ask very specific questions
regarding the child's needs. It is important to assess realistically the
family's ability to parent a particular child. When the family and the
workers feel certain about proceeding, the adoptive family will begin
visits with the child in the foster home. Later they will visit with the
child away from the foster home and eventually in the new adoptive home.
This part of the process can go quickly or slowly, depending on the
needs of the child. During this transition the adoptive family needs to
be patient and respectful of the foster family the child will be leaving
- After placement, the child's guardian will work closely with the family
to ensure that the paperwork for adoption assistance is in place before
finalization. The finalization takes place in a court of law before a
judge, at which time the adoption is legal and a new birth certificate
is issued identifying the adoptive parent(s) as the legal parent(s).
Adoptions are usually finalized nine to twelve months after placement.
- Before and after finalization, it is important for the adoptive family
to develop a support system of family, friends, adoptive parent groups,
and others that can be supportive during this transition. Contact with
birth siblings is sometimes requested. Parenting
children with special needs is often challenging. It will be important
to the success of the family to take advantage of the information and
trainings available in the State of Minnesota.
Applications for both adoption and foster care typically include a
physician's report; reference letters; a criminal background check for
anyone living in the home who is age 13 and older; birth certificates;
marriage certificates; and divorce certificates (if applicable). It is
important to keep in mind that having a criminal background does not
necessarily disqualify anyone. (For information refer to
section 259.67). Adoptive and foster families are not required to own a
home or meet a minimum income standard. Most agencies require that a parent be at
least 21 years old. When an application is submitted with the necessary
forms, an adoption/foster care homestudy case will be opened and assigned
to a social worker.
It is important during home visits or interviews that the family be
forthcoming and clear about its strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses don't
necessarily disqualify a family. It is the
information gathered at these interviews that the social worker uses to
create a homestudy document.
This homestudy will be used to introduce and represent a family to a
child's social worker. The homestudy should be a detailed and accurate
family portrait. The family should discuss any sensitive or confidential
information about their family history. Adoption and foster care social
workers are looking for families with "real life" experience and the
ability to cope with challenges.
For information on the home study process, go to