Last reviewed January 2016
Resources on Minnesota Issues
Minnesota Minority Child Heritage Protection Act
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference
Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed
to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety
of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.
In 1983, the Minnesota Legislature became the first legislative body in the country
to adopt specific statutory language to clarify adoption and foster
care policy on the placement of minority children. Commonly referred to as
the Minority Child Heritage Protection Act or the Minority Child Heritage
Preservation Act, the law established an order of preference for placement of
minority children. Relatives were given priority, followed by adults who shared the
same racial or ethnic heritage as the child. The original bill (Senate File 723)
as passed can be found in its entirety in the
of Minnesota 1983, chapter 278.
Changes to the original 1983 legislation had been relatively minor
until the 1991 decision in the Minnesota "Baby D" case (In the Matter
of the Welfare of D.L., 479
N.W.2d 408) which was affirmed by the court in 1992 (In the Matter
of the Welfare of D.L., 486 N.W.2d 375). In this case a
three year old African American girl who had been raised
since birth by white foster parents was ordered to be given to her grandparents.
Public outcry over this decision led to re-examination of
the law during the 1992 and 1993 legislative sessions. The issue proved
quite contentious but the result was a loosening of the law. Among other
changes, the word "minority" was deleted from several references
of Minnesota 1992, chapter 557, sections 4-9), racial or ethnic
heritage was no longer the "sole" consideration in the placement
of children, and time limitations for compliance with placement preferences
were established (Laws
of Minnesota 1993, chapter 291).
Next the United States Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act
in October 1994 (P.L. 103-382,
section 551/H.R. 6,
section 551). This legislation limited
the ability of states to base adoption or foster care placement of children
on race or ethnicity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Policy Guidance on the Use of Race, Color or National Origin as Considerations in Adoption and
Foster Care Placements in the Federal Register on April
In 1996, the Minnesota Legislature further amended the Minnesota Minority
Child Heritage Protection Act to bring it into compliance with the federal
of Minnesota 1996, chapter 416). Later in this same year the
U.S. Congress amended the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994
section 1808). This amendment strengthened the prohibitions related to
the use of race or ethnicity as a basis for adoption or foster care
placement. As a result, the Minnesota legislation was once again out
of compliance with federal law and had to be amended
of Minnesota 1997, chapter 86). The 1997 amendments basically
replaced the "heritage" or "background" considerations
for child placement decisions with "the child's best interests."
It should be noted that Native American children have a special placement
status since they are members of tribal nations with rights established
through treaties with the United States. They are covered by the federal
Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation
Statutes, sections 260.751 - 260.835) which seek to preserve Native
American families. The initial Minnesota law was passed in 1985
of Minnesota 1985, chapter 111). That same year Minnesota also created the
Minnesota Family Preservation Act (Laws
of Minnesota 1985 1st Special Session, chapter 9, article 2, sections 69-75). It was
repealed in 2003.
On June 3, 2015, the birth parents of an Indian child filed a lawsuit (Doe v. Jessen) in the federal District Court of
Minnesota challenging the constitutionality of the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act under the Fourteenth Amendment. Unlike the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which allows intervention only during involuntary termination of parental rights, the MIFPA requires notice and right of intervention by the tribe in voluntary adoptions. Lawsuits were filed in several states concerning the ICWA in 2015. Among them, a lawsuit was filed in July 2015 by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative advocacy group, claiming the Indian Child Welfare Act is discriminatory because its requirements apply only to Indian children, even those who have no connection to their tribes.
Significant Books and Reports
Advisory Report on Foster Care and Adoption: A Report to the Commissioner
of Human Services. Minnesota: Minority Advisory Task Force on Foster
Care and Adoption, 1986. (HV883.M6 M57 1986) (Required by
Minnesota 1983 chapter 278, section 16.)
African American Children in Out-of-Home
Placement. Minnesota: Committee to Examine Out-of-Home Placement of African American Children
in Hennepin County, 1991. (HV742.M6 A37 1991) [Required by
Statutes section 3.9225, subdivision 3 (j)]
Belton, Steven L., and Katherine S. Harp.
Adoption and Foster Care Placement of Black Children in Minnesota.
St. Paul, Minnesota: State Council on Black Minnesotans, 1982. (HV875 .B44)
Black Children in Substitute Care. St. Paul,
Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Social
Service Research and Statistics, 1984. (HV875.76 .M6 B52 1984)
Calendar Year...Annual Report: Minnesota Children
in Substitute and Adoptive Care. St. Paul, Minnesota:
Minnesota Department of Human Services, Social Services Division, Operations Section, 1985-1986. (HV875.56 .M6 C34)
(Required by Minnesota
Statutes section 257.071, subdivision 6)
Children in Out-of-Home Care: A
1997 and 1998 Minnesota Report by Race and Heritage. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2001.
(HV742.M6 C553 2001)
Children in Out-of-Home Placement:
A ... Minnesota Report.
St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Quality Services Division,
Family and Children's Services Division, 1994-. (HV742.M6 C58) (Required
by Minnesota Statutes,
Children in Substitute Care: By Race.
St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Social
Service Research and Statistics, 1984. (HV875.76 .M6 C44 1984)
Clarifying Culture in Placement Decisions. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, July 13, 2015.
Izaksonas, Elena. An Hispanic Initiative:
Recommendations on Out-of-Home Placement of Children
of Hispanic People in Minnesota. St. Paul, Minnesota: State of Minnesota, Spanish Speaking Affairs Council, 1991.
(HV742 .M6 I9 1991) (Required by Laws
of Minnesota 1988, chapter 689, article 2, section 2).
Indian Children in Substitute Care. St. Paul,
Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Social Service Research and Statistics, 1984. (HV875.76 .M6 I52 1984)
(Required by Laws of
Minnesota 1985 chapter 111, section 6)
Minnesota Department of Human Services
Report to the Legislature on the Study of Outcomes for African American Children in Minnesota's Child Protection System.
St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Children's Services Administration, 2002. (HV742 .M6 M57 2002)
(Required by Laws
of Minnesota 2001 1st Special Session, chapter 9, article 11, section 15).
Foster and Adoptive Care, 1989. St. Paul, Minnesota:
Minnesota Department of Human Services, 1991. (HV883.M6 M572 1991) (Required
of Minnesota 1989, chapter 282, article 1, section 2,
subdivision 4, paragraph 9.)
Report to the Legislature: Recommendations,
Out-of-Home Placement of Asian-Pacific Children.
St. Paul, Minnesota: State of Minnesota, Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, 1990. (E184 .O6 R47 1990)
(Required by Laws
of Minnesota 1988, chapter 689, article 2, section 4).
Belton, Steven L. "No More Race-Based Adoption?" Star Tribune,
December 13, 1996, p. 37A.
Brinig, Margaret F. "Moving Towards a First-Best World: Minnesota's Position
on Multiethnic Adoptions." William Mitchell Law Review, Number 2, 2001,
Cross, Suzanne L. "Indian Family Exception Doctrine:
Still Losing Children Despite the Indian Child Welfare Act."
Child Welfare, July/August 2006, p. 671-690.
Courtney, Mark E. "The Politics and Realities of Transracial
Adoption." Youth Law News, January-February 1998, p. 17-22.
Glynn, Timothy P. "The Role of Race in Adoption Proceedings:
A Constitutional Critique of the Minnesota Preference Statute."
Minnesota Law Review, April 1993, p. 925-952.
Hopfensperger, Jean. "Returning to Colorblind Adoptions."
Star Tribune, December 2, 1996, p. A1, A8.
Jones, Barbara L. "Suit challenges Indian adoption law." Minnesota Lawyer, July 9, 2015.
Simon, Rita J. "Transracial Adoptions: Does the Law Matter?"
American Experiment Quarterly, Fall 1999, p. 85-94.
Stahl, Brandon. "Suit targets Indian child welfare rules."
Star Tribune, January 4, 2016, p. A1, A9.
Stewart, Perry R. "Baby D Adoption Case Did Away with a Bad Law."
Star Tribune, June 30, 2001, p. 19A.
Significant Internet Resources
United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children
and Families -
Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 P.L. 103-382.
United States Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights -
Race, Color, and National Origin Discrimination in Adoption and Foster Care.
Additional Library Resources
For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the
A6 (Adoption), B15 (Blacks), F64 (Foster Care), I12 (Indians of North
America), M80 (Minority Groups)
For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use these
Library catalog searches: