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Prospective Adoptive Parents

Common Adoption Terms

Adoption: A legal process in which parental rights of a child are granted to adoptive parents.

Adoptee: A person who is legally placed with an adoptive family.

Adoption agreement: The agreement in which the adoptive parent(s) and birth parent(s) put into writing their understanding of the terms of an adoption – including the degree of communication and contact they will have with each other and with the adopted child.

Adoption Attorney: A professional who handles the necessary legal functions involved with the placement of children with families or individuals who are approved for adoption. In most instances, attorneys are able to provide additional adoption related services such as re-adoption.

Adoption Certificate/Decree: Also known as the Certificate of Adoption, this is the document that is signed by the presiding Judge upon finalization of the adoption. This official document allows for a new birth certificate to be issued for the adopted child by the appropriate authority. This new birth certificate will reflect the child’s new information (name, adoptive parents, etc.) and will replace the original birth certificate.

Adoptive Parent: An individual who is granted parental rights for a child through a proper legal channel.

Birthfather: Any man that is the biological father of a child that is placed for adoption.

Birthmother: Any woman that is the biological mother of a child that is placed for adoption.

Finalization: The stage in the adoption process when the court awards the Petition to Adopt to the adoptive parents. For international adoption, finalization means that the judge has granted the adoptive family parental rights to the child – the adoption is finalized.

Home Study: The in-depth review prospective adoptive parents must go through to be able to legally adopt. A home study typically includes evaluations of the adoptive parents’ relationship, inspections of their residence, parenting ideals, medical history, employment verification, financial status, and criminal background checks.

Matching: The process of combining the best interest of the child with qualified adoptive parents. The best interest of the child is determined by the birthparent or legal guardian of the child.

Non-Identifying Information: Secondary information that is made available to adoption-related parties that does not include identifying information.

Open Adoption: Birthparents and adoptive parents in the process of an adoption are given information that could be used to identify them.

Placement: Describes the point in time when the child goes to live with his/her legal adoptive parents.

Post-Placement Supervision: Upon placement, a caseworker will be assigned to complete post-placement supervision of the adoptive family. The caseworker will visit the home several times during a set period of time (according to state requirements) to determine if adoption of the child was in the “best interests of the child.”

Placing for Adoption: The birthparents decide to make their child available for another family to adopt. This decision can be extremely difficult, and friends and family around the birthparents often add pressure both for and against such a decision. When deciding what to do, the birthparents will often use the services of a social worker.

Relinquishment: When a birthparent voluntarily forfeits his or her parental rights to a child. The parental rights are typically transferred to an agency, rather than directly to the new adoptive parents.
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