The decision to adopt a child (or adult) can be an exciting and emotional event, but it is also a serious matter because it involves the well-being of a child. 

The decision to adopt a child (or adult) can be an exciting and emotional event, but it is also a serious matter because it involves the well-being of a child. Adoption laws are based on the best interests of the child and certain laws give special protection for children based on their age, status as an Indian child under the Indian Child Welfare Act and other factors. Different types of adoptions include:
  • relative adoption (also called "kinship" adoption)
  • step-parent adoption
  • agency adoption (including children who are wards of the state and children placed through private agencies such as charitable or religious organizations)
  • private adoption (usually arranged between biological parents and adoptive parents, and facilitated by an adoption lawyer)
  • international or intercountry adoption

Father's Adoption Registry

If you think you may be the father of a child born to a woman who is not your wife, but paternity has not yet been established by a Recognition of Parentage form or court order, you can register with the MN Father's Adoption Registry. The Registry makes it possible for you to be notified if a petition to adopt the child is filed in a Minnesota court. To register, you must do so no later than 30 days after the child's birth.
Court ProceduresMinnesota law requires that adoptions be processed in court so that the best interests of the child can be protected. An adoption involves much more than filing papers with the court, and the exact steps you need to follow and papers you need to file depend on the type of adoption. Generally, the steps of the court process include:
  • Petitioner(s) must reside in Minnesota for one year (or less if related to the adoptee);
  • the juvenile court of the judicial district for the county where petitioner(s) live has jurisdiction;
  • Petitioner(s) must file a "Petition" (and consents or other documents depending on the type of adoption) and a proposed adoption "Decree";
  • a home-study and background check is done of the Petitioner(s);
  • there is a hearing before a judge; and
  • if the judge grants the Petition, the court issues an adoption Decree.
NOTE: Adoption cases, including court files and hearings, are confidential and not open to the public or non-parties, except by court order.

You should check with your local court administration about the procedures in your district court.

What adoption court forms are available?

Adoption law is complicated.  The MN Judicial Branch does not publish every adoption form, and court staff cannot give legal advice, so we strongly encourage you to talk with an attorney licensed in Minnesota who has experience with adoptions.

The MN Judicial Branch publishes step-parent adoption forms and forms related to the Father's Adoption Registry. Some other adoption forms are available from the website of the MN Dept. of Human Services, and at law libraries, legal publishers, and private attorneys.

How to file court forms?

Contact the court administrator for more information on how to file your formsFind Courts

Unless you are low income and qualify for a fee waiver, there is a filing fee to start an adoption case in court.

Need more help?

If you need help to fill out the forms and file the papers with the court, go to Self-Help Services in the Courts to see if walk-in help is available at your courthouse. Or, talk with a lawyer.

You may also want to visit the MN Dept. of Human Services - Adoptions webpage to get more in-depth information.
Laws & Rules on AdoptionThe following is a list of some of the laws and rules that pertain to adoption in Minnesota. See also Laws, Rules & Legal Research. You can get more help with your legal research at Law Libraries throughout Minnesota. County law libraries are open to the public, but hours will vary.

We strongly encourage you to talk with a lawyer on how the laws and rules may affect your case.

Resources on Adoption