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Adopting a Child in Foster Care

By David A. Grooters

It is a sad fact that birth families are not always able to provide the best care for children. Unfortunately, sometimes they cannot even keep children safe, and the State of Iowa is forced to intervene. Everyone agrees that these children should not grow up in foster care, but too few people make the commitment to become a foster parent or adoptive parent. In Iowa, there are many children who are languishing in foster care, and many of these children are adoptable right now. No one would ever say that parenting or adoption is easy, but for many folks, it is the single most rewarding part of their lives. If you are interesting in adopting a child in foster care, you should contact the Iowa Department of Human Services and find out how you can become a foster parent. You will need to take some classes, complete a number of forms, and undergo a homestudy. Many children in state care who become eligible for adoption are adopted by their foster parents.

It is common for adoptive families, particularly those involving children adopted through State of Iowa foster care, to need financial support and services after the adoption is finalized. Many adoptive parents who are going through the process of adopting a child who has been in foster care do not realize the financial costs of meeting their child’s needs until it is too late. It is critical that they obtain appropriate benefits during the short window of time, and the assistance of an attorney familiar with the complexities of these benefits may be invaluable.

The government may provide financial assistance, called a “subsidy,” if the child you adopt has “special needs” as defined by Iowa law. The Department of Human Services may be able to provide you the following benefits to adoptive parents who adopt children in foster care: (1) a monthly subsidy (a payment that the adoptive family receives each month and usually lasts until the child turns 18), (2) Medicaid (State of Iowa health insurance granted if the child meets the same conditions as for the monthly subsidy), and (3) adoption assistance (a one time payment of $500.00 per child which helps to cover attorney fees and court costs associated with the adoption).

Timing is critical. If you want to apply for this adoption assistance, you must have all assistance finalized and in place BEFORE the court finalizes the adoption. Parents apply for these benefits at the appropriate Department of Human Services office. An attorney can assist you with the documentation necessary to obtain such adoption assistance.
For more information on adoption, foster parenting and foster care, please visit

David A. Grooters is a Mason City attorney practicing in areas including adoption law with the law firm of Pappajohn, Shriver, Eide & Nielsen P.C. He can be reached at his office at 103 East State Street, Suite 800, Mason City, Iowa, via phone at (641) 423-4264, (641) 423-3145 (fax), or
The firm’s website is:|

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