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Experts advocate for nationwide adoption procedures

According to a recent report, some children might be stuck in foster care because of administrative red tape, rather than a shortage of families seeking adoption or a transfer or permanent legal custody.

The report, recently released by a coalition of child welfare experts, calls for standardized national procedures. The authors believe uniform procedures would encourage more adoptions by out-of-state families and reduce the number of children in foster care.

Federal data indicates that there were 690,000 children adopted from foster care between 1998 and 2009, but only 4,600 of that number were interstate adoptions. In 2010, there were 527 interstate adoptions out of about 53,000 total adoptions from foster care.

One proposal is the standardization of home study course requirements. Current courses vary and may not be accepted by other states. Another proposal is to adjust the federal adoption incentive policy so both the sending and receiving states are compensated. Under the current system, the sending state is recognized for finalizing an adoption, but the state receiving the child may not get fully compensated for costs of recruitment and post-adoption support.

In Minnesota, there are several paths to permanent legal custody. For a child to be adopted, there must be a termination of parental rights by the birth parents. With a transfer of permanent custody, the termination of parental rights does not have to occur, and the parent may retain a right to reasonable visitation.

Every child needs the sense of belonging and love that comes with a permanent family. If you are considering permanent custody or adoption, an experienced lawyer can answer your questions and advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of both options. An attorney can help you smoothly navigate the law to make your dream a reality.

Source: Star Tribune, "US and state officials urged to ease barriers to interstate adoptions of kids in foster care," David Crary, June 19, 2012

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