Adoption takes many forms in Minnesota, including traditional adoption, open adoption, international adoption, stepparent adoption and grandparent adoption. Each is unique in terms of both the law, and the court process involved in bringing matters to conclusion.

The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project is a longitudinal study that explores the effect of the nature of adoption. It’s a collaborative effort between the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas at Austin. Recruitment began in the 1980s. The Project questioned parents (both adoptive and birth) over the course of several decades using in-person and internet measures.

The Project is expansive. It requires research of the entire adoptive network, from birth to adoptive families. It also raises unique ethical concerns about confidentiality and privacy.

Privacy Concerns in Adoption

The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project has many implications for privacy. Adoption is a sensitive subject for all parties involved. Adoptive parents may be unwilling to acknowledge that their family’s dynamic is any different than a biological family’s. Adoptive parents may withhold information from their children about birth parents. Children may have a relationship with their birth parents without the adoptive parents’ knowledge.

Openness of Adoption and Relationship Quality

The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project aimed to examine how the nature of the adoption affected the relationships of all parties involved. The Project questioned parents of children from a variety of adoption arrangements: no contact, stopped contact, face-to-face contact, and contact without meetings.

Each arrangement elicited different feelings about the experience. Families who experienced contact with the birth mother were more likely to experience positive feelings about her and a higher level of satisfaction about the openness of the adoption.

Adolescent children and adoptive mothers who had face-to-face contact reported having the highest level of satisfaction. Adolescent children and adoptive mothers with no or stopped contact had the least level of satisfaction. Adolescents who had no contact were mostly likely to want an increase in the intensity of contact. Fewer than 1% of families wanted less contact.

What Does This Mean for Family Adoptions?

Adoptions are private family affairs. Adoptive and birth parents do what they think is in the child’s best interest. The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project seems to suggest that families who have continued contact with the birth mother experience a higher degree of satisfaction. Participants in an open adoption may want to consider continued contact.

Minnesota couples who wish to adopt have a variety of resources available to them for support and encouragement. Here are six resources you should know about before you adopt.

1. Department of Human Services (DHS) – The Minnesota Department of Human Services offers financial support, training, and referrals to counseling services.

2. MN Adopt – Contracted through DHS, MN Adopt is committed to the mission of supporting families that adopt and promoting adoption as a viable means of family planning.

3. EVOLVE Adoption and Family Services – Few adoption agencies can handle it all. EVOLVE helps families adopt infants and children domestically and internationally; and it provides resources for couples who want to become foster parents. EVOLVE also provides other family and pregnancy-related services.

4. Children’s Hospital of Minnesota Department of Genetics – Not all adoptive situations are simple. Adoptive parents searching to unlock a child’s genetic history and get answers to previously unexplained medical questions can find useful resources available through the Department of Genetics and Genomics at Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.

5. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network – For couples adopting under difficult circumstances involving child trauma, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers a trove of information about how to deal with traumas ranging from physical abuse to complex neglect or abandonment.

6. Disability Minnesota – If you are adopting a child with a disability of any kind, Disability Minnesota can assist you with information about accessibility, education, assistive technologies, advocacy issues and much more.

Story 1: Two Biological Sisters Adopt Two Biological Sisters

One birth mother, Lyndi, had a baby girl in 2012. She decided to place the child with a loving couple, Amanda and her husband, Jared, whom she met through a mutual friend. They had an open adoption, and she was involved with the family and in the baby’s life, even spending time on vacation with them and getting to know the extended family.

About two years later, Lyndi became pregnant again with another little girl. This time, she decided to turn the baby over to Amanda’s sister, Celeste, and her husband, Josh. This adoption is open as well.

Story 2: Nia Vardalos: Hollywood Star Receives the Surprise of Her Life

Nia Vardalos, the writer and actress who penned “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” along with the sequel, recently revealed that she was on the list for foster adoption for years with no success before finally getting a call. The social worker on the other end told her that the agency had a 3-year-old girl for them who would be there the next day. Her husband, Ian, also an actor, was just as elated as she was. The following morning, he took off to buy a few things and returned with a vehicle loaded down with all kinds of dresses, toys, blankets and assorted things — most of them in pink.

At night, their new daughter was afraid. So Nia and Ian took turns holding her until she fell asleep. She has since grown up to be secure and happy. Nia has now become a spokesperson for National Adoption Day to dispel some of the myths surrounding foster care and adoption.

Story 3: Family Adopts Boy with No Arms or Legs

The moment she saw his photo, Bowen’s adoptive mother fell in love with him. Bowen had been abandoned at a Serbian orphanage in 2009. His adoptive parents flew there to adopt the 18-month-old little boy, born without limbs. He had been left in his crib 23 hours a day and only removed to be fed or have his diaper changed. He was still an infant, and he couldn’t chew, sit up, talk or roll over. They had to teach him everything.

Even so, his two older brothers welcomed him with open arms. His parents push him, so he’s willing to try anything. He’s in a mainstream class, and he’s become one of the top students. His mother emphasized that he was full of joy and that he brought joy to everyone he knows.

Story 4: Adopting a Baby at 41

After struggling with infertility and several miscarriages, Mike and Kim adopted their baby boy when she was 41. When her father-in-law first suggested adoption, she still held out hope for becoming pregnant. But the last infertility treatment failed, so she was ready to submit the paperwork, preparing for a possibly long wait.

But it wasn’t long before she got the call from the social worker, instructing her to attend a meeting the next day during her normal work hours. When she pressed for more information, he dropped the bomb: She would be meeting with the birth mom, soft-spoken Joan, 14 years old.

The birth – and the adoption – went through without a hitch, and Mike and Kim welcomed their newborn son into their home a short time later.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, about 6 percent of married women between 15 and 44 struggle with infertility. These women cannot become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex. They might seek other alternatives, such as assisted reproduction. If you have decided to pursue assisted reproduction options, either by yourself or with a partner, this brief overview can help you make informed decisions.

•    Superovulation and Intrauterine Insemination. Superovulation and Intrauterine Insemination optimizes the woman’s chances of conception by stimulating the ovaries so that they release more than one egg each cycle. At the same time, the eggs are exposed to more sperm. This process can double or even triple the chances of conception and also increase the risk of a pregnancy with multiples. In

•    Vitro Fertilization. First used in 1978, IVF involves egg fertilization that occurs outside of the body. These babies are sometimes called test-tube babies.

•    Follicle stimulation and monitoring. The woman receives high doses of follicle-stimulating hormones in order to encourage the production of multiple eggs. She gives herself these shots for 10 days and sees the doctor every two to three days for monitoring in order to ensure that the optimal number of eggs develops.

•    Egg Retrieval. A nurse retrieves anywhere from zero to 30 eggs or oocytes from the woman while she is sedated. The eggs are examined by the embryologist and then incubated until the sperm fertilize them.

•    Fertilization and Incubation. The sperm and eggs are then incubated for a few days.

•    Embryo Transfer Procedure. The doctor transfers the embryos to the uterus via a catheter. The mother should rest after the transfer to allow for the implant.
Cryopreservation. The couple might want to freeze the embryos for later use. When they decide to have more children, the lab thaws the embryos, then transferring them to the uterus.

•    Testicular Sperm Extraction. In some cases, the man might not have any sperm in his ejaculate. However, sperm can still be removed from the testicle.

•    Gestational Carrier. A woman might not be able to carry a baby in her uterus, even though her ovaries and eggs function properly. Once IVF is completed, the embryos are then placed in a gestational surrogate, who carries the baby. After birth, the baby belongs to the biological parents. Before hiring a surrogate, all parties should seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney.

•    Donor Egg Program (DEP). If the woman cannot produce her own eggs, she might receive them from a donor. After IVF, the eggs undergo fertilization by either a sperm donor or her partner.

•    Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). In this method, the lab injects a single sperm directly into a mature egg. The process can sometimes be more effective than traditional IVF methods.

The possibility of expanding your family through adoption is exciting, scary, joyful and confusing all at once. When people imagine adopting a young baby or older child, though, they sometimes labor under mistaken ideas about what is actually involved and how adoption works in Minnesota. We wanted to set the record straight.

Many perfectly qualified would-be adoptive parents, for instance, never move forward with the process, because they’re intimidated by the prospect of a home study program or background check. The truth is that this kind of “vetting” does not have to be stressful or consuming.

Perfection: Not Required

Your family does not need to be perfect. During the home study, for instance, the social worker just looks for honesty and signs of a coherent, ethical family that knows how to identify, address and overcome challenges.

Five Misconceptions About Adoption in Minnesota

1.    You do not need to own your residence to qualify to adopt a child. If you rent a house or apartment, you’re still in the running.

2.    You do not need to meet minimum income requirements. If you’re an internet entrepreneur making $25,000 a year working at home, and your husband just started a new job as a school teacher making a modest salary, for instance, you will not be disqualified just because your household income is under some arbitrary cut off.

3.    A criminal background will not necessarily make you ineligible to adopt a child. Check with a qualified family law attorney to learn more if you have questions about specific crimes and their impact on a potential adoption.

4.    Not all adoptions are the same. There are special rules for adopting children aged 14+, for instance. Such an adoption may not need to go through a licensed child-placing agency in Minnesota, whether that agency is private or sanctioned by the government. You can adopt a child under the following conditions as long as he or she is older than 14 and wants to be adopted by you:
a.    A homeless child that you meet while volunteering in a soup kitchen.
b.    A child in foster care who attends the school where you work.
c.    A child, either homeless or in foster care, who attends your religious institution.

 5. You do not necessarily need to bankroll the costs of parenting without help. The courts provide monthly monetary assistance and medical insurance for parents who adopt special needs children, for instance. These payments range from $247 to $337 monthly per child, depending on the age of the child. The courts provide additional funds at four different levels, ranging between $150 and $500, depending on the severity of the disability.