WILLMAR -- There were 672 children deemed wards of the state who were adopted in Minnesota in the last year. That good news is countered with the fact that there are 650 more Minnesota children who need permanent parents and homes, including children living in Kandiyohi County.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month and Tina Mages, who supervises Kandiyohi County adoptions, said many people aren't aware they can adopt children through the county for a fraction of the cost of private or foreign adoptions.
To adopt children who are wards of the state and "legally free" to be adopted, the state pays for background checks and the entire cost of the legal process. "There is essentially no cost," Mages told the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners during a presentation at the board meeting Monday.
Commissioner Richard Falk said he knows people who spent $20,000 to $30,000 to adopt a child from another state or country.
Adopting a Kandiyohi County child whose parents have had their parental rights terminated also comes with a thorough and accurate history of that child's physical and social background, said Kathy Nelson, supervisor with the Family Services Department. That doesn't always happen with a foreign adoption. "You'll know the child," Nelson said.
Mages said she tries to "get the word out" about the ability to adopt a child in the county.
She said she fields frequent phone calls from people wanting information about adoption and they are not aware that adoptions are available here. "Families don't know about those kids out there," she said.
Through speaking engagements, mass mailings to schools and announcements in church bulletins, word is getting out, she said. During November, special fliers are attached to pizza boxes from the Willmar Papa Murphy's store that says "mamas and papas needed." The promotion, in its sixth year, has generated at least one successful adoption each year.
Kandiyohi County currently has four wards of the state, but three are in a pre-adoption stage. There is just one child now who is available for adoption, Mages said.
The county is connected with the state's adoption exchange which helps local families get matched with Minnesota children looking for a home. Some of those children may have special needs or siblings who want to be adopted together.
Adopting a ward of the state can take about four to six months. It can take close to a year to adopt a child if there's an appeal to the termination of parental rights.