Adoption Services

The SWHHS Adoption Program provides services for:

  • Children in the Child Protection Welfare/Protection system who are waiting to be adopted
  • Families who are interested in adopting these children

The children are under State guardianship because their birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated. The children may experience abuse and/or neglect, trauma, and have special needs because of these experiences. Their needs include physical, emotional, developmental, and mental health. Any of these children may require extra support.


  • Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, and Rock County residents
  • Age 18 and older; no upper age limit
  • Single, married, or partnered
  • Renters or homeowners
  • Live in an apartment or house with a minimum of two bedrooms
  • Must meet licensing standards including passing criminal and Social Service background checks
  • Must be two years from completion of Chemical Dependency Treatment
  • Non Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood or Rock County residents: If you are from a different county or state, please contact your local Human Services agency.

Diversity and Non-Discrimination:
SWHHS does not discriminate based on an individual’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or public assistance status.

Adoption Process:

  • Pre-adoption training process
  • Complete SWHHS adoption application
  • Adoption home study
  • Matching process
  • Pre-placement
  • Pre-finalization phase after children move in
  • Finalization of adoption
  • Post finalization of adoption

Adoption Assistance Program:
Adoption assistance is a reimbursement program based on the child’s documented needs. This program is run by the State of Minnesota to assist families who have adopted children who were under State guardianship. The assistance includes Medical Assistance, reimbursement for some expenses to address the children’s special needs, and some non-medical costs. In some cases, Day Care Assistance and monthly financial assistance may be available.

Overview of Minnesota Adoption Assistance Program Benefits

Medical Assistance (MA):
Children are eligible for MA if they have current special needs or are considered high risk for future emotional, behavioral, medical, or learning problems. MA acts as a supplement to the adoptive family’s health insurance coverage. If the family does not have health insurance, the child can remain on MA or managed health care.

Special Needs High Risk Only (does NOT include Child Care costs):
If the child meets the High Risk Only criteria (high risk of developing physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral disabilities), no payment of financial assistance will be available. If the child does not have documented special needs at this time, the child is NOT eligible for special non-medical costs. If the child’s condition does become manifest and appropriate documentation is submitted through the adoptive family’s county of residence, the Adoption Assistance can be amended to include payment. Siblings may qualify for the Adoption Assistance.

Northstar Adoption Expense Reimbursement:
Monthly stipend/payment to assist adoptive families with the financial cost of the adopted child. This based on the child’s needs and amounts vary accordingly. In some cases, children may not be eligible for this type of assistance. 

Basic Maintenance Needs:
This grant is to help provide for a child’s basis needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. The maintenance grant level is determined by the age of the child. Current rates are as follows:

  • 0 – 5 years $247/month
  • 6 -11 years $277/month
  • 12 -14 years $307/month
  • 15 -17 years $337/month
  • 18 plus years $337/month (under certain circumstances)

Nonrecurring Adoption Expense Reimbursement:
Up to a maximum of $2000 nonrecurring expenses can be reimbursed following finalization of a special needs child. If prior approved, send the copies of all receipts for payments made or outstanding bills for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the adoption of the child(ren) to Department of Human Services (DHS). This could include: adoption agency costs for the adoption, transportation, food and lodging necessary to complete the placement or the adoption, legal fees, Court adoption fees, attorney’s adoption fees, and replacement birth certification fees. You can use this program even if you do no receive Adoption Assistance (DHS-4426A and B-ENG).

Level of Care Supplemental Payments (supplemental levels are in addition to the basic maintenance needs):
There are four different levels of care payments available to a family who adopts a child currently having emotional, behavioral, medical, and/or learning problems. This is based on the child’s current needs.

Level I
$150: This child requires a structured environment, a regimented daily schedule, assistance with routine performance, and may be mildly to moderately retarded or passive-aggressive. Additional problems my include: opposition behavior, weekly therapy, delayed growth, night terrors, poor hygiene, chronic disorders resulting in some inability to perform tasks, etc.’

Level II
$275: This child requires excessive structure, guidance and direction, motivational, stimulation and skill development, and may be moderately to severely mentally retarded. Additional problems may include: limited ability to make appropriate decisions, abnormal affection/attention seeking, repeated school suspensions due to behavior problems, difficulty with peers, stealing, chronic lying, chemical abuse, etc.

Level III
$400 The severity of this child’s chronic or acute condition is exhibited in aggressively acting out, unsocialized withdrawal, or excessive regulation by adults, and may be severely to profoundly mentally retarded, diagnosed with severe emotional disturbance, frequent running away, extreme hyperactivity, destructive acting out, self-destructive mutilation, extreme stealing, drug, or alcohol abuse, and is unsocialized with peers/adults, or has a chronic disability so the child cannot perform tasks.

Level IV
$500: This child’s severe and chronic problems are exhibited in behaviors dangerous toself or others, relief of parent by a trained caregiver only, gastrostomy, heart monitor, or as mental illness, profound Intellectual Disability or physical handicaps that require a structured regimen such that a 24 hour out-of-home placement would be the only alternative available.

Additional Benefits Under Special Non-Medical Costs (These benefits are not available with “Special Needs High Risk Only):

  • Extension of MA benefits
  • Child care for employed parents; employment training limited to the level the local Social Service agency would pay. Parents must apply through their county for subsidized child care and either be ineligible due to their income or be placed on a waiting list if there is one. Families need a letter from their county’s Child Care Program indicating they are not eligible or their placement on a waiting list if there is one.
  • Respite care reimbursement for 504 hours per year (equivalent of 21 days maximum), in or out of home, rate set by local county. Does not need to be licensed provider. Contact the DHS Adoption Assistance Line for more information: 651-296-2210
  • Specialized camping programs for two weeks/year with prior DHS authorization
  • 12 Post-Adoption Family Counseling sessions in the first year after finalization
  • Alterations to the home or vehicle due to child’s special needs

Annual Affidavit:
The family must turn in a notarized affidavit every year within thirty days of the mailing notice to keep the Adoption Assistance in effect.