New beginnings

Celebrating National Adoption Day in Hennepin County

Room in their hearts and homes

In 2015, 100 children’s adoptions were finalized in Hennepin County. Of those, 30 children were adopted into 19 families during the November 21 National Adoption Day celebration.

For each of these kids who cannot live safely with their birth parents, adoption is a chance at a better life.

For the adults and siblings who welcome them home, it is a chance to grow their families or to be a positive force in the lives of children in their communities. Many are foster families before they adopt. Others are relatives, stepping forward to help family members. They are single people, married couples and domestic partners, same-sex, straight, of all races and ethnicities.

What they all share is room for a child in their hearts and their homes.

From foster sons to family members

Sean and Laura Milligan, of Inver Grove Heights, adopted brothers, ages 3 and 4. Longtime foster parents, the Milligans said they couldn’t bear the idea of another transition for the boys, who had been in six foster homes by the time they arrived two years ago. Besides, they said, the boys had become part of their family, which already includes two biological children.

“They were a great fit with our kids and us,” said Sean. “We fell in love with them really fast, so it was kind of an easy decision. They grew on us and became part of us.”

The Milligans have been foster parents for 13 years. Their first foster child was a niece who lived with them for 11 years. In all, they have had 19 foster placements, and cared for children from all over the state, and as far away as South Carolina.

Changes in law emphasize safety

Recent changes to the child protection system, both at the state level and in Hennepin County, put a stronger emphasis on children’s safety. In 2015, 6,731 child protection calls were screened for investigation. Some of those resulted in children being removed – temporarily or permanently – from their birth parents. It is likely that in the near future, even more children will need the haven of foster care and adoption.

From grandparent to parent

Most often, the children who need adoptive families are older, school-aged children, or groups of three or more brothers and sisters whose healing and well-being depends on sticking together.

Debra Moore, of North Minneapolis, adopted her 6-year-old grandson on Saturday. She already had adopted the boy’s two sisters, who were 9 and 11 years old. She said her grandson was in and out of her home as a foster child since he was an infant; her daughter tried to keep him, but was unable to do so.

“I feel that I’m doing the right thing once I look into that kid’s eyes and see that he’s not afraid,” she said. “They give me hugs and tell me they love me. I know I’m doing something right as long as they are happy and I can see it.”

To learn more about children who are available for adoption, visit