Good Adoption Terms to Know
Adoption assistanceFinancial or medical assistance given on a one-time or on-going basis to an adoptive parent on behalf of an adopted child. This subsidy may be provided through federal, state, county and/or local resources. (See itle IV-E.)
Any activity/procedure designed to facilitate the entire legal process of adoption including intake, pre-placement activities and planning, adoptive placement of the child, post-placement activities, and post-legalization (or post-finalization) services.
Organizations designed to help facilitate adoptive placements by sharing information about children for whom an adoptive family is needed. Exchanges also provide advocacy, training, information and referrals for adoption agencies and adoptive families. Information about potential adoptive families may also be shared.Birth parents
Also called biological parents. This is the preferred term for the parents who gave birth to a child. Real or natural parents are not considered positive adoption terms.
An adoption in which identifying information about the birth parents and adoptive parents is considered confidential and is not made available. Records containing this confidential information are usually sealed as a result of state law and/or court order.
The birth family selects a specific family to adopt their child, either directly or with the aid of a liaison or adoption facilitator. In some states, birth parent counseling is required and the adopting family must complete an adoption family assessment.
When a child placed for adoption is removed from the prospective adoptive home and returned to foster care before the adoption is finalized. Reasons for disruptions vary but are generally the result of some incompatibility between the child and the family. In most cases, the child is eventually placed with another adoptive family. The family who could not keep that child may consider other children.
Family Assessment or Home Study
The process of educating prospective adoptive families about adoption, ensuring that their home would be a safe and appropriate place for a child, and determining what kind of child would best fit into that family. Family assessments are usually done by licensed social workers affiliated with a public or private adoption agency. Independent social workers, adoption attorneys and other adoption facilitators may also do family assessments. An assessment is required before a child can be placed for adoption.
The action taken by the court to legally make an adopted child a member of his/her adoptive family. Finalization of infants usually takes place about six months after the child is placed in the adoptive home.
A placement where the child is placed into the home as a foster child with the intention that, if the child cannot return home and parental rights are terminated by the courts, the foster family will adopt the child.
People licensed by the state to provide a temporary home for children who cannot safely live with their birth parents.
(GAL) A person appointed by the court to represent a child in all court hearings that concern him/her. A child’s GAL is usually an attorney.
A large foster home licensed to provide care for several children (perhaps up to 10). Some group homes function as family homes with parents who are always available; others have staff members who work at different times along with the group home parents.
Term used to inform families inquiring about children waiting to be adopted that the child’s agency is not interested in receiving inquiries about the child at this time. Reasons for the “hold” vary. The term is also used in reference to prospective families who may be listed with an adoption exchange.
Interstate compact (ICPC) – Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
This is an agreement between states to coordinate the placement of children for adoption across state lines. The compact guarantees that each state’s adoption laws and procedures are met and the child’s placement is properly managed and finalized.
An adoption that takes place without the involvement of established public or private agencies. May also be called a private adoption and is generally facilitated by an attorney.
Legal risk placement
The placement of a child into a prospective adoptive home before the termination of parental rights of the child’s birth parents. The termination may be under appeal by some member of the child’s family, or the courts may wish to wait until an adoptive family has been identified before terminating the rights. In a legal risk placement, the agency having custody of the child is usually more certain that the child will not return home than the chance that they will.
An adoption where there is some interaction between the birth family, adoptive family and the adopted child. Generally the adoptive family and the birth family agree to a level and style of communication that is comfortable for both parties and in the best interest of the child. Communication may be by phone, correspondence or personal contacts. In a semi-open adoption, contact may be maintained through an intermediary, usually the adoption agency.
A child may have had numerous out-of-home placements after a social services agency has determined that a child is not safe in his current home. The agency may place a child with relatives, in emergency shelters, foster homes, group homes, residential treatment centers or psychiatric hospitals. Also used to refer to the day when a child moves into an adoptive home.
Term used when an adoptive family has been selected for a waiting child. In most cases, the family is getting to know more about the child, but the child has not yet moved into the adoptive home. May also be used in reference to prospective adoptive families who are seriously considering a specific child for adoption. Some agencies and exchanges use “Hold” rather than “Plans”.
Post-legal adoption services
Services provided by an adoption agency to the adopted person, the adoptive parents and/or birth parents after an adoption has been legally finalized. These services may include counseling, support groups, and respite care.
The period of time between when a child moves into the adoptive family home and the finalization of adoption. A variety of post-placement activities may be offered by an adoption agency to an adoptive family, such as counseling, referrals, support and visits by a social worker.
Purchase of service
A contract between two agencies whereby the agency having custody of the child pays the agency working on behalf of the adoptive family for recruitment, placement and post-placement services.
Residential Child Care Facility / Residential Treatment Center (RCCF/RTC)
A place that provides care for more than 10 children. May also be referred to as residential treatment center where housing, meals, schooling, medical care and recreation are provided. Therapists, counselors and teachers are trained to meet the needs of children with emotional and behavioral problems.
The voluntary act of transferring legal rights to the care, custody and control of a child to any benefits, which, by law, would flow to or from the child, such as inheritance, to another family. An adoption agency or lawyer must work with the court system to make a relinquishment legal. (See Termination of Parental Rights.)
The assumption of daily caregiving responsibilities on a temporary basis. Usually designed as a 24 hour-a-day option to provide parents or other caregivers temporary relief from the responsibilities of caring for a child.
A licensed foster home that is prepared to take children immediately after they have been removed from their birth home. Receiving homes keep children for a short period of time, generally no more than 90 days. If a child cannot return home, he/she will be moved to a regular or specialized foster home that is prepared to meet the child’s needs.
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)
Legal action taken by a judge to terminate the parent-child relationship. This action ends the rights of a parent to the care, custody and control of a child and to any benefits, which, by law, would flow to or from the child, such as inheritance. When the parental rights of both birth parents have been legally relinquished or terminated the child is considered legally free for adoption.
Therapeutic foster home
May also be called a treatment foster home. A foster home where the parents have special training to deal with children with significant emotional and behavioral problems.
The Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program is a federal program that provides assistance to families adopting qualifying children from foster care. Money through this program is distributed to adoptive families by each state.
Term used to identify a child, usually in the foster care system, who is waiting for adoption. These children generally are of school age, members of a sibling group, children of color, and have physical, mental/cognitive, and emotional problems that may be the result of experiences of abuse and neglect.