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Adoption Terminology 2017-02-02T20:31:33+00:00

Adoption Terminology

Abandonment

This term applies to circumstances when a parent fails to provide for a child. This can mean financially, or failing to maintain a relationship with the child, or maintain ongoing contact with the child for a certain period of time. Each state has its own definition of what constitutes abandonment, but typically it is a period of anything from 6 months, up to one year.

Active Reunion Registry

An active reunion registry, refers to the type of registry where members of an Adoption Triad can register their information. Contact between the parties initially takes place using an intermediary, which insures confidentiality. The intermediary is usually an agency employee or a party employed by the court. It is the intermediary’s job to contact the person to let them know a Triad member is wishing to get in contact with them. No information is released without all parties being in agreement.

Adoptee

Refers to the person, (usually child, but anyone of any age can be adopted) being adopted, or who have been adopted. This term is not usually used after the adoption as the child is treated, and referred to as “our/my son or daughter”.

Adoption

Adoption is the term for the act of legally creating a family relationship between the child and the parents. The Adoptee gains all the legal rights which a child born biologically to the parents would have.

Adoption Agency – See also Private Adoption Agency

Adoption Agencies are entities which facilitate adoptions. They are licensed by the state in which the agency is located. Adoption agencies are able to facilitate adoptions all states which honor the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA). Adoption agencies may be licensed for domestic and international adoptions.

Adoption Attorney

An adoption attorney is an attorney who specializes in family law. The attorney may be licensed to practice in more than one state. When an adoption is facilitated by an adoption agency it is still necessary to have an adoption attorney prepare and file the necessary legal paperwork. Attorneys usually handle step parent adoption, or adoptions where the Triad have already agreed upon the adoption among themselves, for example adopting a child from a family member or an acquaintance. The majority of attorneys work on behalf of the adoption agency or the adoptive parents, for adoptions where a “Match” has been facilitated by the agency.

Adoption Certification

This term is not used in every states, but it refers to adoptive parents who have completed their criminal and financial background checks and have a completed, approved Home Study report.

Adoption Consultant

Another word for a facilitator. Whatever term is used, an adoption entity must be licensed by the states, and in the state in which it operates.

Adoption Decree – See also Decree to Adoption

Refers to the legal document signed by the judge finalizing the adoption. It legally and formally gives the Adoptive Child and the Adoptive Parents the same legal relationship enjoyed by biological parents and child. The decree will also legally change the child’s name to a name chosen by the Adoptive Parents. A new Birth Certificate is also issued at this time. The Adoptive Parents now assume the legal responsibility for caring for the adoptive child, just as they would a biological child.

Adoption Disruption

Usually, “disruption” refers to an adoption which has failed, after it has been finalized. Disruptions are most common when it is an older child who is being adopted. This is usually of a lack of support after the adoption, and adoptive parents who are ill equipped to deal with all the needs their adoptive child may have. The term is also commonly used, with infant adoption, when a “Match” fails. In infant adoptions the most common disruption occurs when the Birth Mother changes her mind, after the birth, and decides to parent.

Adoption Dissolution

Refers to the legal process whereby a legal adoption is dissolved (undone).

Adoption Exchanges

This is a term, not used in every state, which to refer to an organization which facilitates adoptions. The exchange often helps to recruit parents for children in the care system, or children with special needs. Many states maintain their own websites where they post profiles of children waiting to be adopted.

Adoption Facilitator

Simply put, an entity who facilitates an adoption! Usually, a licensed Adoption Agency or Adoption competent family law attorney.

Adoption Fee Agreement

The Adoption Agency should disclose the adoption costs in the form of a fee agreement. The fee agreement should itemize what fees will be paid, when the fees are paid, and methods of payment.

Adoption Insurance

Adoption insurance, or adoption cancellation insurance may be available to purchase by adoptive parents. The policy will cover some of the cost traditionally incurred during the adoption process. The policy will usually pay out if the adoption is disrupted due to a Birth Mother’s decision to parent. Ask your Adoption Agency for more information.

Adoption Petition

In order to have an adoption finalized a petition for adoption is filed with the court. The petition is generally filed in the county in which the biological parents’ parental rights were terminated. The petition for adoption is usually filed within 60 days of the date parental rights were terminated. Unless the adoption is a relative or step parent adoption finalization occurs no sooner than 90 days after the child was placed with the adoptive parents. The petition for adoption is usually prepared and filed with the court by an adoption competent family law attorney.

Adoption Placement

Refers to the child being placed in the home of the adoptive parents. At this point, the Adoption Agency retains legal custody of the child. Legal custody does not pass to the adoptive parents until “Finalization.”

Adoption Plan

A good Adoption Agency will help Birth Parents make an individualize adoption plan. The plane will be put in writing, and at each step Birth Parents will be given choices. A good birth plan will be set down in writing and modified, as time goes on, where necessary. There are no hard and fast rules about how detailed the plan will be. Much depends on the willingness of the Birth Parents to participate in the process. A detailed plan might include, but not be limited to:

  • Why the decision to place for adoption was made
  • Birth Parents’ choice of adoptive parents, and how and why they were selected
  • Choice of adoption, open, closed or semi-open
  • How will pay for Birth Mother’s living expenses, and for how long
  • Who will pay for post adoption counseling
  •  How often contact or updates will occur and for how long
  • Who will be in the delivery room or at the hospital
  • Whether Adoptive Parents are allowed to bond with baby in Birth Mom’s room or other designated area
  • Who is allowed to hold the baby at the hospital
  • How much contact Birth Mom wants with Baby after birth

Adoption Records

Refers to documentation pertaining to the adoption. These records may be public, such as cord records, or private as in the case of confidential records kept by an Adoption Agency. Each state may have different laws on the public disclosure and handling of these records.

Adoption Reversal

See Dissolution

Adoption Tax Credit

Federal Adoption Tax Credits have been available since 1997, but has changed year upon year. Some years the tax credit has been fully refundable, and in others it could only be used to off-set taxes owed. The off-set could be used and spread over several years.

In 2013, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was made permanent. Good news for all adoptive parents. The only time the credit cannot be claimed is for Step-parent Adoptions. Federal Tax Codes change all the time and it is a good idea to check for any changes or updates. The Federal Adoption Tax Credit for 2013 stands at $12,970.00 (for applicants who qualify). As previously stated, the 2013 credit can be used to off-set taxes for up to five years. See FAQ sheet on the IRS website for more details, and contact your accountant to see if you qualify.

Adoption Tax Identification Number

It is possible to apply for an Adoption Tax ID number when a child has been placed in the Adoptive Parent’s home, and an adoption is pending. In addition, the child may be able to be claimed as a dependent when filing taxes. Check with your tax preparer for full details, and to see if you qualify.

Adoption Triad – see also Triad

The term Triad refers to the relationship between the three parties in the adoption, Baby, Birth Mother and Adoptive Parents.

Adoptive Parent

The term adoptive parents is most often used to describe parents who are currently seeking to adopt, or are in the process of adopting. After the adoption is finalized the adoptive parents are referred to as Parents!

Affidavit

A written statement, sworn under oath to be true and correct, which is notarized by a Notary Public.

Affidavit of Good Moral Character

A written, notarized statement made by prospective Adoptive Parents, stating they are of good moral character. The statement is a form which is provide by the Adoption Agency during the Home Study process. The statement is sworn under oath to be true and correct, and is notarized by a Notary Public.

Agency

Refers, in the case of adoptions, to Adoption Agency.

Amended Birth Certificate

Refers to the new birth certificate which is issued to the child after the adoption is finalized. The new birth certificate refers to the child by the name chosen by the adoptive parents. This may be different to the name chosen by the Birth Parents. The birth certificate is the same, in appearance, as if the child were the biological child born to the adoptive parents. The information contained on the birth certificate is the one which will appear in public records. The child’s original birth certificate is sealed for privacy, but is not destroyed, and can be viewed by court order only.

“At Risk” Adoption Placement

Adoptions are considered “At Risk” as the child is typically placed with the prospective adoptive parents after the Birth Parents have signed their consent for the adoption, but before the court has legally terminated the Birth Parents’ parental rights. The “risk” is the court may not terminate the parental rights, for various reasons, in which case the child will be placed back with the birth parents. Termination of parent rights can occur, typically, 30 to 90 days after placement.

Attachment

Refers to the bond formed between child and caregivers, usually primary caregivers such as parents. The process of bonding and forming an attachment begins early in infancy, and is firmly established by about age 5. A child who does not have an opportunity to form a bond and attach to its caregivers will have difficulty forming close relationships in the future. This failure can cause significant impairment in relationship forming and can lead to a disorder called Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Bi-racial Child

Bi-racial child, is a term which refers to a child of mixed race. A child whose biological parents are different races, for example Caucasian and African American, or African American and Native American.

Birth Father

The child’s biological father.

Birth Mother

The child’s biological mother.

Birth Plan

The Birth Mother, or parents, will make a Birth Plan with the assistance of the Agency’s Adoption Specialist. The birth plan will include mother’s choice of who will be in the birthing suite, whether she wants to see baby after birth, whether she is willing for the Adoptive Parents to be present at the Birth, who she would like to witness her sign the consent to Adoption. The Plan will be formalized in writing, so that her wishes are known and can be adhered to.

Bonding

See attachment

Central Abuse Registry Hotline Record Search

As part of the home study process prospective Adoptive Parents must complete a Central Abuse Registry Hotline Record Search which will determine whether they have ever had a child abuse conviction.

Closed Adoption

A closed Adoption occurs when all identifying information for all involved parties, Birth and Adoptive Parents, is sealed to prevent disclosure of identities. During a closed adoption non identifying information may be shared. Medical history, redacted medical records, ethnic or religious background are examples of some of the shared non-identifying information which may be released to the adoptive parents.

Confidential Adoption

Confidential Adoption, is another term for a Closed Adoption.

Confidential Intermediary

A confidential Intermediary is a person who acts as an agent of either the Birth Parent, Adoptee, or Adoptive Parent and acts as a go between for parties who are trying to contact each other, usually for the purpose of reunification. The Intermediary, must determine whether the party being sought is willing to reestablish contact with the searching party. If the party being sought is willing to make contact the intermediary will facilitate the exchange of information as instructed by the parties.

Confidentiality

The act of keeping personal information a secret, unless a “release of information” has been signed authorizing information to be release. This is usually legally mandated when health information is involved. Those required to respect and adhere to the legal definition of confidentiality are Doctors, Social Workers, Lawyers, Adoption Agency Workers, Court personnel and the like.

Consent to Adoption

Refers to the legal document Birth Parents sign giving their “Consent” to the adoption. A Birth Mother typically signs her consent paperwork at the hospital no sooner than 48 hours after the child’s birth, unless the birth mother is discharged from the hospital earlier.

Cooperative Adoption – See also Open and Semi-Open Adoptions

Cooperative adoption refers to adoptions which allow contact between the members of the Adoption Triad, after finalization has occurred. An agreement on the type and frequency of contact will be arranged prior to the child being placed with the adoptive parents. The arrangements for contact may be formally set down in writing, and signed by both Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents so each party knows their obligations. Contact can range from yearly letters and photographs taken on birthdays and important holidays, to regular personal visits.

Decree to Adoption – See also Adoption Decree

Refers to the legal document signed by the judge finalizing the adoption. It legally and formally gives the Adoptive Child and the Adoptive Parents the same legal relationship enjoyed by biological parents and child. The decree will also legally change the child’s name to a name chosen by the Adoptive Parents. A new Birth Certificate is also issued at this time. The Adoptive Parents now assume the legal responsibility for caring for the adoptive child, just as they would a biological child.

Department of Vital Records

Each state has a Department of Vital Records which is responsible for issuing and maintaining records of births, deaths and marriages. It is this governmental department who will issue the Adoptive Child with a new Birth Certificate when the Adoption is finalized. In some states this governmental office also keeps the putative father registry.

Dependent Child

In the case of adoptions or foster care, this term refers to a child who is in the legal custody of the foster care system or the court. A child usually finds themselves in this situation when there has been abuse or neglect in the home, or the child has been abandoned, or removed from the home.

Diligent Search

When a Birth Mother decides upon an adoption plan, it is necessary to locate any potential biological fathers, and legal father (man who is currently married to Birth Mother), to notify them of the Birth, just in case the father wants to parent. When the biological father’s idendity is not known a Diligent Search process must begin. The search must begin soon after a Birth Mother states her intent to place the child for adoption, and no later than 30 days after she has received money for reasonable living expenses. Diligent Search is therefore the term used for the search for the biological father.

Disruption

Refers to an adoption which fails to complete, an example is when a Birth Mother changes her mind and decides to parent.

Dissolution

Refers to the court proceeding whereby a legal adoption is reversed, at some point after finalization. Dissolution, rarely occurs with infant adoptions, but does on occasion occur with the adoption of older children, particularly when adoptive parents have been ill prepared for the needs of the children, or have insufficient post adoption support.

DNA and DNA Testing

DNA refers to deoxyribonucleic acid, and is sometimes referred to a person’s genetic blueprint. A person’s DNA is unique, and no two people has the same DNA make up. DNA testing is therefore an accepted way of proving paternity, and is sometimes used when one or more males claim they are a child’s biological father, or where it is unclear who the biological father is. DNA may also be used to exclude a person as a possible biological father.

Employee Adoption Benefit

Many employers provide their employees with an Employee Adoption Benefit Package. This may take the form of a financial award towards adoption expenses, an interest free loan, or maternity and/or paternity leave for adoptive parents over and above that provided for in the Family Medical Leave Act. These types of benefits are usually provided by larger corporations, but it is always worth asking if an employer provides this benefit.

Extended Family

Generally refers to family members, usually related biologically and by marriage, such as Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and the like.

Facilitators

Generally refers to individuals, who facilitate the matching of Adoptive Parentes with Birht Parents, for the purpose of arranging an adoption. The type of people who do this might include, members of the clergy, doctors, nurses, or other family members. This type of facilitating is perfectly legal, in some states, as long as the person is not being compensated. However, the practice in some states is prohibited. Individuals using the services of a facilitator should consult with a family law attorney before proceeding, preferably the same family law attorney who will be conducting the finalization proceedings.

Family Preservation

A term used primarily by social service agencies to refer to efforts and programs intended to keep families together. Each state has programs to support and strengthen families and provide programs to assess the safety of the child and intervention in cases where children are deemed to be at risk.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

A disorder which effects children whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol is a teratogen (substance which may cause abnormalities to a developing fetus). Alcohol passes easily from the mother through the placenta to the baby. There the alcohol is absorbed by the developing fetus. It is uncertain what constitutes a safe level of alcohol for the fetus, before harm is done. What is certain, alcohol can cause significant physical and developmental harm to the child. Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome suffer from lifelong cognitive impairments, developmental disabilities and have distinct physical features.

Finalization

Refers to the time when all the legal proceedings have been completed and the child legally becomes part of the adoptive parent’s family.

Finalization Hearing

The finalization hearing refers to the actual court hearing where the adoption is finalized. The Judge will look at all the paperwork, and evidence, presented by the Adoptive Parent’s attorney and will determine (or not) whether the adoption should become final. Once the Judge is satisfied the adoption is appropriate a Decree of Adoption will be issued, a Certificate of Adoption will be signed and sent to the Department of Vital Records to enable a new Birth Certificate to be issued, and the child will become a legal member of the adoptive family.

Foster Care – See also Interim Care

Foster Care refers to a temporary home/family who takes care of the child while they are waiting to be placed with their adoptive family or reunified with their biological parents. In the case of Infant adoptions, most babies are placed directly in the adoptive family home, while the process is ongoing. In the case of Infant Adoptions, foster care is referred to as Interim Care, and is usually a very short period of time.

Grief

Grief is a profound feeling of loss. In the case of Adoption, all members of the Adoption Triad can feel feelings of grief and loss. The Adoptive Parents may grieve their lack of fertility, loss of a child through miscarriage, loss of their “dream” child. Birth Parents grieve the loss of their child, even when they feel peace at their Adoption decision, and the child may feel grief at the loss of their biological family.

Home Study – See also Suitability Study

The Home Study (called a suitability study in some states) is both a report and a process. The Home Study report, documents a thorough examination of the prospective Adoptive Parents, their criminal, medical and social background, as well as their financial situation. The process involves gathering documentation, such as birth certificates, letters of reference, and tax returns, and a site visit of the Adoptive Parent’s home. The Home Study is a written document that reflects a Social Worker’s findings and is presented to the Court.

ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act)

The U.S. Indian Child Welfare Act was written to protect the heritage of Native American Tribes, by encouraging the adoption of Native American Children by Native American families. The Act recognizes the rights of a tribe over a child with Native American Heritage. The law recognizes the child’s right to know their Indian heritage, and cultural roots.

Identified Adoption

Refers to when a Birth Mother has “identified” the couple/person she wants to parent and adopt her child.

Identifying Information

Refers to information which may identify a person, last name, address, telephone number, social security number, birth date etc. This is the type of information which is kept confidential in a Closed, or Semi-Open Adoption. In an open adoption some of this information may be shared as long as a release of information has been signed.

Infertility

The inability to conceive a biological child without medical intervention. Infertility, may also mean that a biological child cannot be conceived even with medical intervention.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)

The Interstate compact on the Placement of Children, is an agreement which has been put in place to facilitate adoptions between all 50 States, and District of Columbia. The Compact protects the interests of children who may be moved from one states to another in the course of an adoption. The states in which the child was born, and the state in which the child will live, must both approve the child’s move from one state to the other. This must happen before the child can be moved to the receiving state.

Interim Care – See also Foster Care

Interim Care refers to a temporary home/family who takes care of the child while they are waiting to be placed with their adoptive family or reunified with their biological parents. In the case of Infant adoptions, most babies are placed directly in the adoptive family home, while the process is ongoing. Interim Care is also referred to as Foster Care.

Open Adoption

Parties who agree to an Open Adoption will allow identifying information to be shared with the other party.  An Open Adoption is more likely to include contact and visitation after finalization. It is not co-parenting, but it does allow the child connection with Birth Parents, biological family and other siblings. Contact may include, visits, emails, phone calls and letter.

Petition for Adoption

In order to have an adoption finalized a petition for adoption is filed with the court. The petition is generally filed in the county in which the biological parents’ parental rights were terminated. The petition for adoption is usually filed within 60 days of the date parental rights were terminated. Unless the adoption is a relative or step parent adoption finalization occurs no sooner than 90 days after the child was placed with the adoptive parents. The petition for adoption is usually prepared and filed with the court by an adoption competent family law attorney.

Placement

Refers to the child being placed in the home of the adoptive parents. At this point, the Adoption Agency retains legal custody of the child. Legal custody does not pass to the adoptive parents until “Finalization.”

Placement Date

Placement date is the date when the child is placed in the Adoptive Parents home. Ideally, placement date occurs when baby is discharged from the hospital after birth.

Post Adoption Services

Services provide for the members of the Adoption Triad. Which may include post adoption counseling for Birth Parents, and support services for Adoptive Parents.

Post Placement Supervision

The law requires Post Placement Supervision. Post placement supervision begins as soon as a baby is placed with the adoptive parents, and continues up to finalization. Post Placement supervision, entails multiple visits by a Social Worker to the adoptive parent’s home, where the Social Worker will check on baby’s wellbeing, how well the family is bonding, and the adoptive family’s adjustment to their new family member.

Post Placement Supervision Report

Post Placement Supervision Report, refers to a written report, prepared by the Adoption Specialist, for submission to the court at the finalization hearing. The report contains information on how the family is bonding with the baby, care baby is receiving, family’s adjustment, and baby’s progress. In addition, the report includes the Adoption Specialist’s observations on the family’s interactions with baby, and the worker’s recommendation on whether the adoption should be finalized. The Court will take the Adoption Specialists recommendation into account when making a final decision on whether or not to finalize the adoption.

Prenatal Exposure to Substances

Prenatal Exposure to Substances, refers to the Fetus being exposed to illicit drugs, prescription drugs (either prescribed or not), and alcohol while in utero. Exposure to substances, can be harmful to the fetus and can cause neurological and developmental damage. The level of harm depends on the type of substance, the length of time it was used, and at what stage of development the fetus was when it was exposed to the substance. The range of damage suffered by the fetus can range from no discernible effect to severe damage and retardation.

Presumed Father

When a married women becomes pregnant, the presumed father is her husband. The husband may or may not be the biological father of the child. If the woman is not married. If a man is not married to a woman, but allows his name to be placed on the child’s birth certificate he becomes the “presumed” father. Again, he may or may not be the biological father of the child. The presumed father will remain so until he challenges this in a legal proceeding, or the fact is rebutted by another individual. Again, this requires a legal proceeding to change the presumed status.

Private Adoption Agency – See also Adoption Agency

Private Adoption Agencies are entities which facilitate adoptions. They are licensed by the state in which the agency is located. Adoption agencies are able to facilitate adoptions all states which honor the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA). Adoption agencies may be licensed for domestic and international adoptions.

Public Adoption Agency

Public Adoption Agencies are agencies run by the State or other Governmental institutions.

Putative Father Registry

The term Putative Father refers to a person who can claim to be a child’s biological father. In the case of an adoption, the putative father must be notified. Oftentimes, it is not possible to find the putative father, or it is unclear who the biological father is. The Putative Father Registry was set up to enable men to claim their biological children if they suspect they may have fathered a child. There are limited time frames for a biological father to come forward and claim paternity.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Reactive Attachment Disorder affects children who did not receive nurturing and care from their primary caregivers (usually parents), during their early formative years (before age 5). This disorder manifests as an inability to bond and form attachments. Children with RAD often fail to thrive, may not make eye contact and either are indiscriminately friendly towards total strangers, or may fail to respond to anyone socially. Children with RAD exhibit behavioral problems and a have a difficulty forming bonds with their adoptive parents. Reactive Attachment Disorder, is seen in children entering the care system from neglectful homes. This is not a problem typically associated with infant adoptions.

Re-Adoption

Children who are adopted overseas by American parents, and have a foreign birth certificate issued in their country of origin, may be “re-adopted” once residing in the United States in order to get a U.S. issued birth certificate.

Relative Adoptions

The term used when a child is adopted by a blood or biological relative.

Release

A “release,” refers to a document which a person signs giving permission for personal information to be release, for example a Birth Mother might sign a release for baby’s medical information to be released to the Adoption Agency.

Relinquishment

Relinquishment, refers to a Birth Parent relinquishing (giving up) their parental rights to the child. In the case of adoption, the Birth Parents will relinquish their parental rights to the Adoption Agency. The Agency takes physical and legal custody of the child until finalization, at which time the Adoptive Parents will take legal custody.

Reunion Registry

The Reunion Registry is a database containing information on Birth Parent, Adoptive Parents, and Adoptees. The purpose of the registry is to hold information so that members of the Adoption Triad can search and find each other. There are a number of different registries, some maintained by the State and some by Private Adoption entities. More recently, registries are kept in an online format, and not the traditional paper files.

Reversal – See also Revocation

Revocation refers to when a Birth parent reverses their “Consent to Adoption.” The law varies by state, but a Consent can only be overturned by the court and there must be extenuating circumstances, such as coercion, which must be proven. There are also strict time limits which again vary by state.

Revocation – See also Reversal

Revocation refers to when a Birth parent reverses their “Consent to Adoption.” The law varies by state, but a Consent can only be overturned by the court and there must be extenuating circumstances, such as coercion, which must be proven. There are also strict time limits which again vary by state.

Screening

Screening refers to the act of obtaining and reviewing personal background information, such as criminal background checks, child abuse registry etc.

Sealed Adoption Records

Once an adoption is finalized the original birth certificate is sealed to protect all the parties to the adoption. The law of each state governs if and when a sealed record can be unsealed.

Semi-Open Adoption

A semi-open adoption generally does not entail sharing of identifying information between the parties in an adoption. In these cases it is usual for an adoption agency to act as an intermediary to facilitate ongoing contact between Birth Parents and the Adoptee. A Semi-Open adoption allows carefully controlled contact and may result in the adoptee feeling more connected to their family of birth.

Severance of Parental Rights – see also Termination of Parental Rights

This is the name of the Court Proceeding whereby the Birth Parent’s rights are terminated. In some states the term for this proceeding is Severance of Parental Rights. Once the parental rights have been terminated or severed, the child is able to be adopted.

Special Needs

Special Needs, refers to children who may be more challenging to place in an adoption. The types of circumstances which constitute a “special need” includes such things as, physical or mental disabilities, bi-racial, African American boys, developmentally delayed, and sibling groups.

Special Needs Child

Special needs child as it pertains to adoptions, refers to a child who has “special needs” or belongs to a “special needs” group. Special needs children may have an intellectual or physical disability, be bi-racial or an African American male, or a member of a sibling group. These classifications come from the legal definition of special needs child.

Statues

State and Federal Laws.

Suitability Study – see also Home Study

The Suitability Study (Called a Home Study in Florida and other states) is both a report and a process. The Home Study report, documents a thorough examination of the prospective Adoptive Parents, their criminal, medical and social background, as well as their financial situation. The process involves gathering documentation, such as birth certificates, letters of reference, and tax returns, and a site visit of the Adoptive Parent’s home. The Home Study is a written document that reflects a Social Worker’s findings and is presented to the Court.

Surrender

Surrender, is a term used to refer to the voluntary act of terminating parental rights. The Birth Parents surrender their parental rights over the child. Once the Birth Parents have signed the surrender papers, the child may be placed for adoption by another family. The surrender documents must be signed and witnessed by a Notary Public.

Surrender Papers

The legal documents, signed by Birth Parents, surrendering their parental rights.

Traditional Adoption – see also Closed Adoption

This term may be used to refer a Closed Adoption. The term traditional is used because Closed Adoptions used to be the norm. Today, Open and Semi-Open adoptions are becoming more the norm as it has been recognized that contact with the Birth family can be beneficial to the child.

Trans-Racial Adoptions

Trans-racial adoptions refers to an adoptive family adopting a child from a race different from their own.

Triad – see also Adoption Triad

The term Triad refers to the relationship between the three parties in the adoption, Baby, Birth Mother and Adoptive Parents.

T.P.R (Termination of Parental Rights)

This is the name of the Court Proceeding whereby the Birth Parent’s rights are terminated. In some states the term for this proceeding is Severance of Parental Rights. Once the parental rights have been terminated or severed, the child is able to be adopted.

Waiting Children

Generally, refers to children in the Public Foster Care system who are waiting to be adopted. It is uncommon for an infant to have to wait for an adoptive family.

Waiting Families

Generally, refers to adoptive parents who have approved home studies and are waiting to be matched with a Birth Mother.