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Moving from foster parent to adoptive parent may be easier in MN

A friend of ours faced a dilemma a couple of years ago. She had taken in her grandson when it became clear that her daughter could no longer care for him. Our friend and her husband knew they would have a little trouble taking on the added expense of the 18-month-old, so they contacted the social services department in Carver County to see if they could be the boy's foster parents.

It took a little time, but they successfully completed all the necessary paperwork and background checks and suitability assessments and, finally, received their license. They were relieved when their reimbursement checks started to come in.

Almost a year passed, and they realized that neither their daughter nor the baby's father would be capable of caring for the baby in the foreseeable future. The subject of adoption came up. If the baby's birth parents gave up their parental rights, our friend and her husband could legally adopt their grandchild. It made sense, and it would be better for the baby.

But how would they deal with the loss of the reimbursement payments? Under Minnesota law, those payments could be cut by as much as 50 percent the minute the adoption went through.

They are not the only foster parents to balk at adopting a well-loved child. A foster child can quickly become a member of the family, and the emotional barriers melt away. The financial reality, however -- the fact that adoption will cost them the much-needed additional income -- can be a much harder barrier to overcome.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has introduced a new program that officials hope will encourage more adoptions by foster parents. Northstar Care for Children should streamline the process and, the state says, significantly increase adoption assistance benefits.

How does it work? We'll explain in our next post.

Source: Minneapolis StarTribune, "State increases incentives for foster parents to adopt," Chris Serres, Jan. 8, 2015

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