Report spotlights difficulty of adopting older children

If a teenage foster child wants to be adopted, and a woman is willing and fully qualified to adopt her, why is it so hard to make it happen in Minnesota?

The Star Tribune reports today on the hurdles blocking the path of a qualified woman who wants to adopt a teenage girl whom nobody else seems to want.

The number of children whose parents have had their rights terminated is going up, the Strib’s Brandon Stahl writes, but the laws to make it easier to adopt aren’t working.

In fact, the state has already been penalized for “shuffling thousands of children in an out of foster care.”

There aren’t a lot of people like Susan Olson, a senior lawyer at Hormel, who wants to adopt the girl, knowing that she has mental health issues.

But Blue Earth County cut off the process with the adoption agency Olson was using.

Concerned that the adoption was stalling, an Ampersand social worker visited the girl Aug. 11 and told her she was legally entitled to an attorney, according to Chalmers. By Aug. 17, the girl had a lawyer. The next day, Blue Earth County social worker Sarah Johnson sent an e-mail saying Olson was not an option for the girl. The way that Ampersand tried to find a home for the girl, Johnson wrote, “comes across as intimidation, crossing boundaries, and disrespectful of the team’s knowledge of a long-term client.”

Johnson also said the girl’s therapist indicated she was not ready to move to an adoptive home, according to the e-mail.

Surprised to hear that, Ampersand’s program manager, Joe Wild Crea, called the therapist and read him what the county said. “He said, ‘That’s news to me,’ ” he said.

The therapist could not be reached for comment.

Regardless of the therapist’s assessment, Wild Crea said it’s typical for foster children to act out. “Healing happens in the context of a committed relationship,” he said.

The girl doesn’t know someone wants to adopt her, Stahl writes. One of her siblings was recently adopted. Another is also in foster care.

But Olson has also never met the girl.

The Department of Human Services says it’ll investigate.

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