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.

It’s no secret that adoption is expensive. Estimates vary, but according to a study of 1,100 published in Adoptive Families Magazine, the average family spends $39,966 adopting through an agency and $34,093 in open adoption. If you’re dealing with a limited income, these figures might make adoption seem out of the question. The good news? It’s possible to adopt without spending a fortune, as we demonstrate below:

Stick With Domestic Adoption

Although any adoption will strain your budget, international adoptions are notoriously expensive. Location matters; statistics from Adoptive Families Magazine indicate that adoptions from South Korea and Ethiopia are far more expensive than those from China. Still, domestic adoptions are nearly always more affordable than international proceedings.

If both international and conventional adoptions are out of the question, foster care adoption may be a viable alternative. Although challenging, this approach makes adoption feasible in families that otherwise cannot afford agency fees or birth mother expenses. Be aware that foster adoptions tend to involve older children or teenagers.

Take Advantage of the Federal Adoption Tax Credit

To ease the financial burden of adoption, the federal government provides a one-time tax credit. This credit is not refundable; you’ll only benefit if you owe taxes. What’s more, you’ll receive no more than your total liability. For example, if you owe $5,000 in taxes, you’ll receive a $5,000 tax credit rather than the maximum.

In 2018, the maximum available adoption tax credit reached $13,840. This figure increases annually alongside the cost of living. Additionally, income limits may apply based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

If you’re struggling with the financial or legal concerns of adoption, seek counsel from the Brown Law Offices. Get in touch today to learn more about the adoption process—and how the Brown Law Offices team can help.

For many couples, the idea of having a child is integral to their vision of the future. So when infertility interferes with these plans, what can you do about it? What are your options?

First, consider some sobering science. A study of 47,515 Danish women found that those who did not conceive following fertility treatments were three times more likely to divorce than those who successfully had children. Per the researchers, “After up to 12 years of follow up, nearly 27% of the women were no longer living with the person with whom they had lived at the time of the fertility evaluation. Women who did not have a child after the evaluation had significantly higher odds ratios for ending a relationship up to 12 years after the evaluation… than women who had a child.”

How Can Couples Remain Strong?

Fertility treatments can be notoriously expensive, and research shows that fights over finances commonly harm marriages. In addition, fertility issues can threaten the vision that guides the relationship. If one partner wants children even more than she wants to preserve her marriage, what happens next, for instance? Couples are not powerless, though. These tips can help protect what’s sacred and find solutions:

  • Recognize the situation for what it is. A fertility problem is a family crisis, and it’s okay to identify the gravity of the situation. Acknowledging that this is a serious challenge will help you approach it together in a healthy way.
  • Share your feelings. Bottling your emotions can be toxic to a relationship. In fact, putting up a strong front can be more isolating, which will make you more apt to lash out.
  • Don’t play the blame game. It may be tempting to blame your infertility problems on yourself or a partner. Don’t think about the what-ifs or the should-have-beens. Focus on the present, and do it together.
  • Be on the same team. You made a pledge to help one another through better or worse. You don’t have to feel the same things at the same time, but you do need to pay attention to what your spouse must be going through.
  • Explore your options. These might include adoption, surrogacy or growing old together just the two of you. Reformulate your vision, and get excited about the future.

Infertility can take a toll on a marriage, but it doesn’t have to mark the end of the relationship. Contact a compassionate Minnesota family law attorney to get insight into your next steps.

Some couples wait years before getting the green light to adopt. This is (or at least, by all rights, should be) an exhilarating time. But the adoption process can also be exhausting, consuming emotional and financial resources. And life’s other stresses can add up as well.

What happens when a couple getting an adoption decides to part ways? Does the process necessarily terminate? If not, who gets custody of the child, and how does child support and visitation work?

The answers to these (and similar) questions depend sensitively on the details of your relationship, your financial situation and where you are in the adoption process. Getting a divorce will not necessarily ruin your chances, but it can greatly complicate matters.

Factors affecting your next steps can include:

  • The best interests of the child. If a court thinks that letting the adoption continue would present a hardship to the child in question, it will likely choose to halt the process.
  • The wishes of the birth parents. The birth parents may stipulate that they want the child to go to a stable, married family. Or the agency may put a stop to the adoption because of the anticipated divorce-related chaos. The birth parents may also decide to let the adoption continue with one or both custodial parents.
  • Special constraints on international adoptions. Some international adoption agencies impose specific rules about what kind of home can welcome a child.

Whatever you do, don’t stay married just because you want a child. It’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to the child. Suspicious circumstances surrounding your divorce could result in the courts halting your adoption as well. Adoption during divorce can be tricky, but it is possible. For more information about protecting your Minnesota adoption process, contact us for a confidential initial consultation.

 

Your adult daughter is getting a divorce. Guess who’s likely to be spending more time with the grandchildren? The assumption may be intrusive, but it’s also natural; after all, in a time of crisis like this, to whom else can your daughter turn, especially when childcare becomes an instant need? More importantly, how can you provide needed support for your daughter during her Minnesota divorce, as well as support for your grandchildren, without upending your own life? The following grandparent’s guide provides some helpful, common-sense tips.

Exercise active support and patience in the short-term

The days immediately following your daughter’s split from her spouse are likely to be filled with turmoil—not just the emotional fallout with her and with the grandkids, but also with the stresses of becoming a newly single parent and all that entails. Now is the time to provide as much support as you can until the family can regain its footing. You may be called upon to babysit more frequently while your daughter juggles a job and the many details surrounding a divorce. There may be no need to offer words of advice at this time; the best support you can offer is to be present and available.

Maintain a consistent front with your daughter for the grandchildren

As you spend more time with your grandchildren, you can expect them to ask some questions as they continue to process the reality of divorce. Confer with your daughter to learn how she has broken the news to the children so your answers can be neutrally supportive, consistent with what their mother has told them. If you are unsure how to answer, defer to their mother. You may have strong feelings about the ex, but now is not the time to share that information with the children.

Acknowledge that the arrangement is temporary

While offering extra support in the short-term, you are within your rights to emphasize that this additional help is temporary until she finds her feet. As an adult, your daughter needs to figure out how to move forward as a single parent, including setting up a more permanent solution for childcare. Don’t be afraid to say no to babysitting requests if you need a break or have other plans, and don’t be pressured to set aside any long-term plans for your “golden years.” You aren’t being selfish by drawing healthy boundaries—in fact, you are empowering your daughter to regain her self-sufficiency for the long run.

Creating a family through adoption is a joyous event. Providing a “forever home” to a child who has none is a heartfelt choice that benefits the parents and child. Choosing to adopt special needs children adds additional layers of challenges and fulfillment to the family. There are several things you can do to make this process rewarding for everyone.

1.    Determine the type of special needs your family can best support. Special needs is a broad category that includes children who:

  • Have physical or health problems
  • Are older
  • Are members of ethnic or racial minorities
  • Have a history of abuse or neglect
  • Have emotional problems
  • Have siblings and need to be adopted as a group
  • Test positive for HIV
  • Have documented conditions that may lead to future problems
  • Were prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol

2.    Educate yourself about the short and long-term needs of the child. Some conditions may resolve over time, and others can worsen. Learn what the child will need, and plan to address those needs.
3.    Establish reasonable expectations. Some children adjust to adoption easier than others. For others, the care they need places a great physical, emotional and financial burden on the family. Be reasonable in your expectations to support your family.
4.    Build a support network. The best networks tap multiple sources, such as families, schools, churches, and community organizations. Give people specific ways they can help, and then let them do so.
5.    Access community resources. Easter Seals, Early Intervention Services, and other Special Education Programs can provide financial, attachment and educational support to special-needs children and their families.
6.    Identify and utilize community medical resources. Establish a team of physicians, nurses, therapists, and other healthcare providers to support the development of your child.
7.    Take advantage of tax deductions. For instance, you might be able to deduct special school instruction, home modifications, and attendant care.

If you are considering adoption in Minnesota, we can answer your questions and facilitate the process. Call us for a free consultation at 763-323-6555.

The traditional “Nuclear Family” – two parents originally and only married to each other, with children – has become less common over the past several decades. This Leave It to Beaver paradigm has given way to a more diverse, intricate set of family types. Let’s explore some of these new family structures and discuss the opportunities and challenges they present.

Person with children marries a spouse with no children. This type of blended family can run into obstacles if the parent-spouse assumes that the new partner will automatically take on the roles and responsibilities of “mom” or “dad.” The childless partner, meanwhile, may feel overwhelmed or awkward because of the new family responsibilities.

To succeed, the couple should establish clear rules regarding how to care for and discipline the children and how to meet family expenses. Strive to show a united front to the children. Allow new relationships to develop organically. Reassess the family’s governing rules periodically, as the children grow and as the relationship evolves (e.g. couple moves in together, etc.).

Divorced parent with kids marries another divorced parent with kids. This “Brady Bunch” blended family can get quite complex, given the sheer number of relationships and all the permutations they create. On the plus side, both “Brady Bunch” spouses will be experienced spouses, and the children (when well managed) can band together to help each other and/or assist with chores around the house. Again, organization is key to harmony. Consider establishing a weekly meeting, where everyone can speak freely, air grievances or creative ideas (if any), and do something fun as a unit.

Widow or widower with children remarries. These step-families can lead to healing or destructive dynamics, depending on the nature of the new parent-child relationships. The absence of the deceased spouse/parent understandably can powerfully influence the family dynamic. Communication and empathy can deepen bonds. Avoid trying to rush intimacy or the psychological healing and coping processes.

Divorced or widowed parents of adult children marry. Work to address issues related to inheritance, medical care and retirement to alleviate concerns among the children. If the blended family is geographically distant from all or some of the children, create opportunities for bonding, such as shared holidays or vacations.

Our experienced and compassionate Minnesota family law attorneys can address the diverse legal issues that arise in blended families. Call us for a free consultation at 763-323-6555.

Adopting a child with special needs in Minnesota is like adopting any other child, with a few differences. Five things you should know about special needs adoption include:

1. “Special needs” can refer to a variety of issues – Special needs children waiting for adoption may have mental, emotional, physical, or behavioral disabilities. MN Adopt considers sibling groups in the “special needs” category, as well. Before adopting, consider the nature of these and determine whether you have the parental skills and the financial and logistical abilities to accommodate those needs.

2. Diverse factors cause challenges with child development – Special needs children may have been neglected or abused; or exposed to chemicals or drugs in prenatal development. They may have a genetic disorder. If abused, their abuse may have been emotional, sexual, psychological, or physical, or a combination of the above. Identifying the root cause of the challenges can help you and your family adapt and nurture the child effectively.

3. You may qualify for expense reimbursement from the government – In some cases, a family adopting a special needs child may be eligible to receive reimbursement for certain non-recurring expenses.

4. Waiting lists tend to be shorter – Many adopting parents don’t feel they are equipped to handle special needs. As a result, the waiting list is generally shorter for special needs children.

5. Support groups abound to help you and your family – These groups welcome adoptive parents and provide resources to help families with special needs. To find one, Google [your child’s special need] + “support group” + [your local town]  (example: “autism support group in Minneapolis”).

Are you and your family excited to open your hearts to a little boy or girl who could benefit from your love and care? Consult a family law attorney with the Brown Law Offices at 763-323-6555 for a private case consultation.

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.