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Viewpoint: Celebrate! Foster care leads to 12,500 adoptions

By Emily Piper, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Numbers can say a lot. Minnesota families have adopted 12,500 children from the state's foster care system in the past 20 years. With more children in our system in 2016, families adopted more foster children — 868 — than any other year over the last two decades.

Adoption is cause for celebration, not only for the newly created families but for all of us in Minnesota. More than anything else in their lives, children need safe, stable, nurturing families. That is what enables them to learn, gain confidence and grow into healthy, productive adults.

That is why the Minnesota Department of Human Services and our partners have honored families at the Celebrate Adoption event for the past 20 years at the beginning of November, Adoption Awareness Month. We not only recognize the hundreds of children adopted in the previous year but also encourage others to consider adopting children from the foster care system.

Foster care is much needed — to keep children safe — in times of crisis but is temporary care. It is not a permanent solution for children. Our goal is to always reunite foster children with their families when it is safe or quickly find another permanent family who can best care for them.

Relatives or kin — others, including teachers or longtime family friends, who have particularly close ties to children — are often a good option and our first choice when looking for adoptive parents. Children have a connection to them and trust them. They can offer children the safe, healthy familial bonds they so desperately need; the cultural ties that are so vital to their well-being; and the security of family whom they've known for years.

But, I know there are many others out there who have the love in their hearts, time to devote to children and dedication to making them part of their family for a lifetime who would be wonderful adoptive parents as well.

Right now, 766 foster children are waiting for families to adopt them. Most are part of sibling groups who need to be adopted together, most are children of color, most have special needs, and about one-third are 12-18 years old. If you want more information, contact your county social services agency or MN ADOPT at www.mnadopt.org, 612-861-7115 or 866-303-6276.

We — the Minnesota Department of Human Services, contracted adoption agencies, counties, tribes and MN ADOPT — will be there to help with support, information, training and referrals. And, most importantly, we will be there to celebrate with you.

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