By Jodi Raidt and Heidi Wiste
Many Minnesotans might be surprised to learn that most children who are adopted in Minnesota today are not coming from China, Colombia, Malawi or India. They are children right in our own backyard.
Today, 905 of 10,000 children in foster care in Minnesota have an immediate need for a permanent and loving family. Almost 60% of children in foster care are siblings. They also tend to be older children.
Mike and Megan Nelson, who knew of the great need for foster families, decided to take a leap of faith and walk through the education and training involved to become foster parents. They were also open to adoption. As a blended family, the Nelsons have two older children at home and several adult children who are now on their own. With available space in their home, love for children and a willingness to learn, they knew they could make a difference. Last year, they opened their home to three sisters, ages 12 to 17, with whom they have developed a special bond. So special, that this month – National Adoption Month – the sisters are officially joining the Nelson family through adoption.
If you’ve ever wondered about adopting children from foster care, here’s what the Nelsons want you to know:
All kids deserve to be loved and cherished in a family.
Be ready to care for children with special needs. While children may have mental health, developmental or physical challenges, a wealth of resources are available to support families and help children succeed.
It takes more than love. Time, patience and intention are needed to understand a child’s unique situation and provide support they need to thrive.
Openness with biological family members, when that’s possible, provides opportunities for children to connect with their roots and enrich their lives.
Adoption financial assistance is available to support children adopted from foster care until they reach age 18 or graduate from high school.
Our organizations at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Children’s Home Society of Minnesota have been working with families over decades to equip them with the education and support they need to welcome children into their homes and lives through foster care and adoption. For families who want to provide permanence for children in foster care, there is little-to-no cost for adoption and there is support available for the journey.
It takes a leap of faith to raise a child – whether they are coming to us biologically or through foster care adoption. If you’ve ever considered welcoming a child into your home as a foster or adoptive parent, we encourage you to learn more. All children need a loving family. These kids are depending on us.
Raidt is the statewide program manager of Therapeutic Foster Care, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Wiste is director of Foster Care and Adoption, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Children’s Home Society of Minnesota.