Adoption Terms & Definitions

Adoptee

An adopted person.

Adoption Agency

An organization, usually licensed by the State, that provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and children who are in need of a family. The agencies may be private or public, secular or religious, for profit or non-profit.

Adoption Assistance

Monthly subsidy payments to help adoptive parents raise children with special need.

Adoption Disruption

The interruption of an adoption prior to its finalization. It is also called a failed placement.

Adoption Dissolution

The interruption or failure of an adoption after finalization that requires court action.

Decree of Adoption

A legal order that finalizes an adoption.

Dependent Child

A child who is in the custody of the State Child Welfare System.

Adoption Home Study

A process by which potential adoptive parents educate themselves about the challenges and rewards offered through parenting adopted children and assess their own skills, life experiences and strengths to determine the type of adoptive children they could best parent.

Legally Free

A child whose birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated so that the child is “free” to be adopted by another family.

Matching

The process of finding prospective families specifically suited to meet the needs of a waiting child, not to be confused with “placement”.

Surrender

Voluntary termination of parental rights. An action taken by birth parents to voluntarily “make an adoption plan” for a child or “relinquish” a child for adoption.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)

Voluntary termination of parental rights. An action taken by birth parents to voluntarily “make an adoption plan” for a child or “relinquish” a child for adoption.

Waiting Children

Children in the child welfare system who cannot return to their birth homes and need permanent, loving families to help them grow up safe and secure.

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