Some children who are adopted in Minnesota are eligible for Adoption Assistance. This makes adopting an older child (or sibling group) with special needs more affordable for prospective parents. The Minnesota Department of Human Services website has a helpful outline of the Adoption Assistance program.
Adoption assistance includes many different pieces, which I will talk about in greater detail in future posts. One way to get an overview of what Adoption Assistance can include is by looking at a sample Adoption Assistance Agreement. Please note that the sample to which I have linked is slightly outdated.
Here is a quick list of what adoption assistance may include:
Basic maintenance payment- to assist in meeting the basic needs of the child (such as food, clothing and shelter)
Supplemental maintenance payment - available when a child has a diagnosed physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral disability that requires care, supervision, and structure beyond that ordinarily provided in a family setting for a child of the same age
Medical care - Medicaid/Medical Assistance
Non-medical needs including child care (during the hours of employment, training or education of the adoptive parents), family counseling to meet a child’s needs, post adoption counseling to promote a child’s integration into the adoptive family, respite care, camping programs adapted to meet the child’s special needs, and alterations to the family home or vehicle to accommodate a child’s special physical needs. There are also other non-medical needs that adoption assistance may cover, as you can see on pages 3 and 4 of the sample Adoption Assistance Agreement that I linked to above.
Additionally, once the adoption is finalized, parents may be reimbursed up to $2,000 for nonrecurring adoption expenses. Nonrecurring adoption expenses may include things like court filing fees, legal fees, agency fees, transportation, food, and lodging during the “transition” phase, etc. This booklet from Hennepin County also does a good job of walking parents through the Adoption Assistance program.
My advice to prospective adoptive parents is to consult with an attorney about the Adoption Assistance piece. To many people, it feels weird and “icky” to be thinking about the financial aspect of adopting children – and to think about receiving Adoption Assistance. However, when you adopt a child with special needs, there will be additional financial costs vs. raising a child without special needs. Your future children deserve every opportunity to have the brightest future they can have and to be the best that they can be. By the time they are with us and in the adoption process, they have likely experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma - – they have suffered through these things through no fault of their own. They have been inappropriately parented. They have likely been in multiple foster care placements. It takes time, energy, love, patience, commitment, therapy, and (it is the ugly truth) money to help these children reach their potential. I am so thankful for the Adoption Assistance program because it helps adoptive parents help their children reach their potential. Do not be afraid to advocate for yourself, your family, and your child during the Adoption Assistance negotiation process.