Heidi Wiste is president of the Children’s Home Society of Minnesota (Children’s Home) and also associate vice president for adoption and foster care at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS).
Based in St. Paul, Children’s Home serves Eden Prairie for foster children adoption, infant adoption, and international adoption. It is an adoption agency, as distinguished from a lawyer who offers to arrange private adoption, which provides an individual, independent link between a biological parent and an adoptive parent.
Children’s Home does international adoptions from China, South Korea, India, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Jamaica, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Wiste notes that international adoption has a cost ranging from $20,000 to $40,000.
Adoption lawyer Katie Jarvi, a partner at Johnson/Turner Legal with offices throughout the Twin Cities, including Eden Prairie, notes that international costs grow out of the investigation of the adoption situation and sometimes the need for multiple attorneys.
Wiste says there can also be travel and translation costs. She adds that there are international adoption grants available.
Children’s Home also provides pregnancy counseling services for women and “expectant fathers.” If a pregnant woman opts to give her child up for adoption, Children’s Home can provide potential adoptive parents with infant adoption (also available through international adoption). Per Wiste, the cost for domestic infant adoption is typically $25,000.
Regarding foster children, Melissa Sherlock, Hennepin County program manager for child foster care licensing and foster child adoption, emphasizes that placement in a foster home is temporary. She said sometimes kids need a safe place to heal while families work through issues.
According to Wiste, the overriding goal of foster care is to “reunify” children with their birth parents. If that is not possible, the emphasis is to place the children with blood relatives. Only when those options are not feasible, foster children become available for adoption.
As of October 2022, Wiste said 569 foster children were available for adoption in Minnesota, a process called “fostering to adoption.” She says that the costs of adopting a foster child are largely covered by a Minnesota grant. Also, during the fostering period, the county provides foster parents with a stipend for the care of the child.
Wiste says that sometimes in foster or international adoption, a couple may adopt siblings “if their family can support sibling adoption.”
She also notes that 30% of children in foster care identify as LGBT+.
Another type of adoption is familial or kindred adoption, the specialty of Jarvi as well as Kathleen Korniyenko of Caso Law in Minneapolis. If a man marries a woman with children, he may wish to adopt the children. If grandparents need to take over care of grandchildren, they may formally adopt the children.
Traditional bars to adoption that may have existed 50 years ago have largely fallen away. All professionals consulted for this article said that LGBT+ potential adoptive parents would “absolutely” be considered for adoption.
“Most of the rules have changed,” Jarvi said. She says that a single adoptive parent can be considered. Wiste notes, “Sometimes it is easier for a child to develop a relationship with one parent.”
Regarding the age of an adoptive parent, Wiste says that one of her adoptive parents is 74 years old.
Some critics say that private adoption through a lawyer can veil an attempt to circumvent statutes or principles of ethical adoption. The North American Council on Adoptable Children declares, “Agencies and independent practitioners must ensure that the child or youth to be adopted was not made available for adoption through coercion (including bribery of birth parents), fraud, kidnapping, trafficking or other unethical practices from the family of origin or any third party to the adoption.”
In the case of fostering to adoption, the adopted child will likely not be an infant. Attorney Kornienko does say pragmatically that then “there is no need to deal with diapers.” Wiste notes that it is a great positive that since older children “can talk with parents,” there is less need to guess what is going on with the child.
If an adoptive parent is accepting of adopting a child that is not an infant, fostering to adopt does not place a heavy financial burden on the adoptive parent. It is true, however, that each adoptive parent is unique, each adoption is its own journey.
Children’s Home Society/Lutheran Social Service: 1605 Eustis St., St Paul, MN 55108, 651-646-7771, chlss.org.
Hennepin County Foster Care: 525 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, (612) 348-5437, hennepin.us/fostercare.
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: 4900 Tuttle Crossing Blvd., Dublin, OH 43016, 800-275-3832, davethomasfoundation.org (lots of adoption data).
Kindred adoption lawyer Katie Jarvi, partner at Johnson/Turner Legal: 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 250, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 651-371-9117, johnsonturner.com.
Kindred adoption lawyer Kathleen Korniyenko at Caso Law: 3109 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55408, 612-913-4230, casolaw.com.
More to read: Follow one couple’s emotional journey through the ups and downs of the adoption process, from a heartbreaking loss to the joyous moment of finally becoming parents.
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