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Glossary of Adoption Terms

Glossary of Adoption Terms

If you are a prospective adoptive parent exploring to have your child adopted or simply a professional in the area of adoption, there are numerous terms that you should familiarize yourself with. Here are some of the most popular ones, including their respective definitions.

Adoptee – an individual who has been adopted

Adoption – a legal and social practice wherein the parental rights are transferred from a child’s birth parents to his or her adoptive parents

Adoption agency – an organization licensed by the state to educate prospective adoptive families and facilitate the placing of children and adoption process

Adoption agreement – the legal document signed by the birth and adoptive parents that indicates the details of the adoption

Adoption decree – a court document given to the adoptive parents after finalization of the adoption

Adoption match – the process of bringing together willing birth parents and potential adoptive parents

Adoption plan – a unique plan that a birth parent/s makes to allow for the adoption of their child

Adoption professional – an individual that provides adoption services

Adoption profile – an autobiographical letter provided by the prospective adoptive parents to be given to the potential birth parents

Adoption records – legal documents related to an adoption

Adoption triad – the term used to describe the three-sided relationship between the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adopted child.

Adoptive parent – a person who legally accepts parental rights to an adopted child

AFCARS – Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System; a system for gathering information on children who have been adopted and in foster care

Amended birth certificate – the new birth certificate of a child that is given to the adoptive parents once the adoption process is finalized

ASFA – Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997; federal law that promotes safety and adoption of children in foster care

At-risk placement – pertains to the placement of a child into a potential adoptive family prior to the legal termination of the birth parents’ rights

Birth certificate – a certified document that indicates all relevant birth information of a child, including the name given, parents’ names and time of birth

Birth parent – the biological mother or father of a child

Closed adoption – kind of adoption wherein the birth and adoptive parents do not have any identifying information or contact with each other

Consent form – a legally binding document signed by the birth parents that transfers their parental rights over the child to the adoptive parents

Disrupted adoption – a term that refers to an adoption that falls through before being finalized

Domestic adoption – adoption of a child who is a U.S. citizen

Dossier – a collection of important documents sent to a foreign country to be used for processing the adoption of a child in their local legal system

Facilitator – an individual responsible for matching prospective birth and adoptive parents

Finalization – the legal process in which the adoption becomes binding and permanent

Foster care – temporary child placement

Home study – a report on the prospective adoptive family and their situation at home, lifestyle, values and other factors that may affect the adoption process

Hopeful adoptive parents – prospective individuals who have been approved for adoption but have not been placed with a child

Identifying information – personal information about the birth and adoptive parents

Independent adoption – an adoption that is not handled by any agency

Infertility – a condition pertaining to the incapacity to carry a pregnancy or conceive

International adoption – adoption of a child who is a citizen of a foreign country

Non-identifying information – information that enables the birth and adoptive parents to know relevant facts about each other without giving away their identities

Open adoption – kind of adoption wherein the birth parents and adoptive parents are in contact pre- and post-placement of child

Placement – used to define a certain period of time when a child enters the home of adoptive parents and lives with them

Post-placement services – a number of services available to the adoptive family after the finalization of adoption. This includes family events, social services and counseling.

Private adoption – a kind of adoption that is processed by a privately-funded licensed agency

Public adoption – adoption that is facilitated through a publicly-funded agency

Revocation of consent – the process wherein a birth parent revokes the consent for adoption that he or she initially agreed to and asks to regain custody of the child

Semi-open adoption – a kind of adoption where a potential birth family maintains non-identifying contact with the adoptive family, usually through an adoption lawyer or adoption agency

Special needs child – a child who may have physical, mental or emotional difficulties

Termination of parental rights – this permanently ends the rights of the birth parents over their child. After which the child becomes available for adoption

USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau; a federal government agency that approves the immigration of an adopted child into the country and gives citizenship to adopted foreign children

Waiting child – a child that is available for adoption

With better understanding of the above terms, going through an adoption process will prove much simpler.


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