This is a place for those who have spent time in foster care in Minnesota, and want to learn more about the time in care, and what information there is about them and their journey.
If that is you, you are in the right place.
Below are some thing you might find helpful, but please reach out with questions, if anything is unclear, or if you need more support.
Participate in a Paid Focus Group
I want to help us make support better for other MN foster youth and get paid $50/hour for sharing my thoughts.
Get Help Looking Into My Past
Attend a Training
I want to hear about all the ways I can explore my history, how to get them and some tips to prepare to on cover the past.
Let Power of Story Help
I want to work one-on-one with a Power of Story staff to create a printed Lifebook, and have them request documents I want for me.
I am not working with a worker, and want to complete this application to work on my Lifebook for free.
I am working with a worker, and will have them complete this for me to complete a Lifebook.
Request My Own Documents
Note from Power of Story: We want you to have any and all information that is yours by right. And we know that learning more about a hard time in your life is not simple and will have ripple effects on your life.
We believe in the power of your story to change things.
But, just like water and fire, hearing more of your story has healing power and destructive power if unleashed too much at once or at the wrong time.
On this journey you might find:
- Brand new information.
- More details about who your birth family was/is.
- More good things.
- More traumatic things that you didn’t know about.
- Helpful medical details
- More understanding of how the past influences the now
And after the information is gathered… you might find that:
- Information might be different than you remember.
- Information might be missing (and not able to be found)
- Redacting might make things hard to understand.
- Identifying information isn’t generally shared (last names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.)
- Information might be wrong.
- Information might be overly negative and full of language that is hard to understand.
- You might need some time to process the information with a trained professional.
- You might have more questions than answers after you review it.
Emotionally, you might feel:
- Have flashbacks to hard times
- More insight
Some advice from those before you:
- Prepare yourself. Michael Davis-Thomas
- Have support. Have someone with you that you trust and feel comfortable to confide in and share your story with. Social workers can be subjective. It is their opinion and bias doesn’t mean it’s your story. Be compassionate to yourself and read in parts. Expect that unexpected. Do something nice for yourself after. Mary Carter
- To not set your heart on finding anything out and if you do it’s a bonus. to make sure you have support and access to some kind of therapy or a strong friendship network. Saira-Jayne Jones
- I would say if you really want it don’t stop until you retrieve it. I didn’t want it bad enough so I gave up but I know if I didn’t give up, I would have it right now. Deborah Denzel
- I would say it will likely be hard, and they may learn things that may be hurtful, but that ultimately, it may also validate some of the feelings they have and/or decisions they have made. I would encourage young people to have a support network and utilize it during this process. A lot may come up for the young person. Emily Stochel
- Maybe don’t, it’s very difficult because you want to know your childhood experiences but professionals (I am one myself) write in a way that is so robotic, inhuman and talk about you like you are an object. I think they forgot you can one day read these. Laura Bye
- I would ask what they hope to achieve from accessing them and ensure they are knowledgeable about the support they’re legally entitled to, or organizations such as Rees Foundation (a Charity registered in England and Wales). Anonymous
- I think the process is different for everyone, but I would say don’t get your hopes up that you will get what you need or want. Go in with little expectations. Anonymous
Before jumping in, we encourage you to find your support people and support places!
A support person could be anyone who has YOUR best interest at heart, and is willing to help you through this process. Let them know you searching for more information and ask if they will support you along the way.
Supports in Minnesota
- Connect with other MN Foster Alumni on this Facebook Page
- Connect with various organizations on the Foster Advocates Resource Page, A resource guide for Fosters, directed by Fosters.
- Connect with various organizations on the Connections to Independence Resource Page
If you still want to request items on your own, here is how you do it, use your supports, and reach out to us anytime if we can help.
Foster Care File
Request from the county your ‘case’ was handled by.
Each county has a data privacy plan that states how to request, with a contact person and form, but are not very specific.
Request from the agency or county your ‘case’ was handled by.
If you don’t know which agency or county facilitated it, you can request that be looked up here.
Many, but not all records are available to the public.
Tip: if you know the county most of your parents records would be in, go in person to the courthouse.
Can request online.
No central registry. Send a request to each medical system.
Release for all Minnesota
Tip: if you are not sure where you were seen, send a request to the 6 major MN medical systems and the hospital you were born at: Allina, M Health/Fairview, Health Partners, Children’s, Hennepin Healthcare and Mayo.
Tip: if you were ever legally adopted, use your adoption decree (that has your birth and adoptive name on it) to show that the record is yours.
No central registry. Send request to each school attended.
Tip: If you don’t know all of them, start with what schools you do know you attended and see if there are breadcrumbs.
Birth, Marriage, Divorce, Fathers’ Adoption Registry and Death Certificates
Many records are able to be individually requested for a small fee, to those who can prove their connection.
Publically available contact info
Tip: Enter any information you know, email, name, social media url or address.
DNA and Search Services
When information is missing or is just not enough, check out these free DNA tests for adoptees, foster youth search services and DNA based search organizations.
Advice to Fosters Who Want to Request Their File
Advice, cautionary tales, real encouragement and things to consider for care experienced young people, from a 2022 survey for current and former foster youth.