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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Federal and Minnesota Policies Informing International Adoption

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In this post we will discuss policies informing international adoption both in the United States and in Minnesota. Note that other countries will have their own policies regarding international adoptions; for examples, see this recent article on new regulations in Ukraine, Mexico, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Future posts will look at how these policies translate into processes, as well as what happens when international adoptions are disrupted.

Policies Informing International Adoptions


  • Hague Adoption Convention (Hague Adoption Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption): International policy developed in 1993 which governs adoptions among more than 75 member countries. Gives adoptive families greater protections than they would receive if adopting outside the Convention, and ensures that adoptions are in the best interests of children. Allows adoptions to take place only when the child's country of origin states that the child is eligible for adoption and proper efforts to find permanency for the child within his/her country have been given. Requires adoption agencies to be accredited at a federal level and be transparent in their services provided to adoptive families.
  • Intercountry Adoption Act (2000): Allows for the U.S. to implement the Hague Adoption Convention and designate the Department of State to be the U.S. Central Authority. Convention enforced in 2008.
  • International Adoption Simplification Act (2010): Restores exemptions on immunizations and sibling age to allow adopted children from a Convention country to enter the United States.

State of Minnesota

  • Minnesota Statutes §257.05: Importation: International adoptions must be approved by the commissioner of human services, as the commissioner is responsible for the child's best interests until s/he is adopted, and must adhere to all related federal and state rules and laws. The commissioner must also get notice of the child's name, age, and personal description as well as the name and address of the person/people with whom the child is to be placed. Exemptions to these rules are given to those who are the child's parent, stepparent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle (in the first degree) by blood or marriage. Finally, this statute states that licensed adoption agencies and county social services agencies may certify the suitability of the adoptive home.
  • Minnesota Statutes §259.67 Subdivision 1 (e): Adoption Assistance: This statute states that "[i]nternational adoptions are not eligible for adoption assistance unless the adopted child has been placed into foster care through the public child welfare system subsequent to the failure of the adoption and all required eligibility factors are met."
  • Minnesota Statutes §245a: Human Services Licensing: According to this statute, adoption agencies who receive children to be placed for adoption or help plan the placement of children for adoption must be licensed by the commissioner.
  • Minnesota Rules 9545: Private Child Caring or Placing Agences: These rules help interpret applicable statutes for adoption agencies in their work. See sections 0755-0845.
All statistics come from

  Total Female/Male Most Adopted Age Major Countries-of-Origin
International Adoptions in MN: 1999-2010 8,705 5,208 (60%) /
3,497 (40%)
Under 1 year:
3,940 (45%)
International Adoptions in MN: FY 2010 397 217 (55%) /
180 (45%)
1-2 years:
146 (37%)
International Adoptions in the US: 1999-2010 224,615 141,321 (63%) /
83,291 (37%)
Under 1 year:
92,202 (41%)
China: 64,043 (29%)
Russia: 44,150 (20%)
Guatemala: 29,699 (13%)
South Korea: 17,869 (8%)
International Adoptions in the US: FY 2010 11,058 6,202 (56%) /
4,856 (44%)
1-2 years:
4,306 (39%)
China: 3,401 (31%)
Ethiopia: 2,513 (23%)
Russia: 1,082 (10%)
South Korea: 863 (8%)

Also, see The International Adoption Project: Population-based Surveillance of Minnesota Parents Who Adopted Children Internationally.

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