Adoptable Child: Any child wanting to be
Adopted Person or Adoptee: Someone who
has been legally adopted.
Adoption Agreement: A document in which
birth and adoptive parents outline their plans
for contact and communication, best thought
of as a covenant promise.
Adoption Day: The day of either the adoptive
placement or the day the adoption is finalized
by the court.
Adoption of a Child With a Disability or
Other Special Placement Need: The adoption
of a child born either domestically or in
another country who:
• Has physical, emotional, and/or
• Is past the infancy stage
• Is a member of a sibling groups or racial
• Has some combination of these
Adoption Plan: The decision made by parents
to have their child grow up in an adoptive
Adoption Specialist: A trained professional
who assesses prospective adoptive parents
and counsels them regarding adoption andparenting.
Adoption Triad: Birthparents, adoptive
parents, and the adopted child.
Adoption Kinship Network or Adoption
Constellation: The adoption triad as well
as extended family members who have
relationships with the child.
Adoptive Parent: Adult who adopts a child.
At-Risk Placement or Legal-Risk Placement:
The placement of a child with an adoptive
family before the birthparents’ legal rights have
ended; or when rights have been ended but any
revocation period has not yet expired.
Birthparent (birthmother or birthfather):
Biological or genetic parents of a child,
sometimes called first parents, and generally
used to refer to parents who place their child
with an adoptive family.
Child who is HIV-Positive or Child With
HIV: A child who is infected with the human
Child With Identified Disabilities or
Child With Identified Special Needs:
Children with known physical, emotional, or
Child Without Identified Disabilities or
Child Without Identified Special Needs:
Children who may have physical, emotional,
or developmental disabilities, but they have
not been identified prior to adoption or an
Confidential Adoption or Closed Adoption:
An adoption plan where non-identifying
information is shared, but birth and adoptive
parents do not meet, do not share identifying
information, and do not have planned contact.
Designated Adoption, Private Adoption, or
Identified Adoption: An adoption in which
expectant parents identify an adoptive family
without the help of an agency or attorney.
Direct Consent Adoption: An adoption
where parental rights are transferred directly
from the birthparents to the adoptive parents.
Direct Placement: When adoptive families
receive the baby immediately after discharge
from the hospital.
Disrupted Adoption: An adoption that fails
Domestic Adoption: The adoption of a child
who is born and adopted within the same
Embryo Adoption: Embryos received from
one couple by another couple with the hope of
a pregnancy and birth of a child; while not a
legal adoption it has many of the same aspects.
Embryo Donation: The donation of embryos
created through Assisted Reproductive
Technology which will not be implanted in
the genetic mother but are instead donated to
another set of parents for the intended purpose of
pregnancy, birth, and parenting by that couple.
Expectant Parent: Parent expecting a child
who is considering whether to parent or make
an adoption plan.
Families Waiting to Adopt: Families who
have decided to adopt a child and have
completed a Home Study and educational
Finalization: The legal process that makes the
adoption permanent and binding.
Home Study or Family Assessment: A series of
interviews (both joint and individual) and home
visits, along with a collection of documents and
references that are part of the required preadoption
process for all adoptive families.
Identifying Information: Information
about members of the adoption triad, such
as full names, addresses, and other contact
In-Country Adoption: Adoption of a child by
parents in the child’s home country.
Independent Adoption: An adoption in
which the child is placed directly with the
adoptive couple, usually through an attorney or intermediary, often without pre-adoption
counseling for the birthparents or the adoptive
International Adoption: Adoption of a child
who was born in another country; sometimes
referred to as intercountry adoption.
Interstate Compact on the Placement of
Children: A law that requires written notice
and prior approval of the placement of a child
from one state to another state, either for foster
care or adoption.
Interim Care: A temporary, loving home
for an infant while the parents make a final
decision regarding adoption or parenting.
Multicultural Family: A family who adopts
transracially or transculturally, making the
family multicultural in identity.
Networking: A process in which families use
a variety of ways to make expectant parents
aware of their desire to adopt a child.
Non-Identifying Information: Information
that allows the members of the adoption
triad to know about each other, but without
identifying information. First names,
physical descriptions, occupation, education,
personality characteristics, hobbies, interests,
religious affiliation, and medical information
are examples of non-identifying information.
Older Child Adoption: The adoption of
children in the United States who have been
permanently removed from their parents
because of abuse or neglect. Sometimes
referred to as adoption after foster care or
foster adoption by other agencies.
Open Adoption: An adoption plan in which
identifying information about birth and
adoptive families is openly shared, and there is
ongoing and direct contact after placement.
Post-Adoption (or Post-Placement)
Counseling: Counseling offered for adoptive
families and birthparents after a child is placed
Post-Adoption (or Post-Placement) Reports:
Written reports submitted to the courts by
the social worker after the child is placed with
the adoptive family; the number of visits and
reports varies from state to state.
Post-Adoption (or Post-Placement)
Support Services: Any assistance provided
to the adoptive family and birthparents after
placement that always includes visits in order
to prepare post-placement reports; other
services are provided, as necessary.
Pre-Placement Counseling: Counseling
provided to prepare expectant parents for the
release of their child and to prepare adoptive
couples for parenthood.
Profile: Pictures and information that
introduce a prospective adoptive family
to expectant parents considering adoptive
Relinquishment of Parental Rights: See
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights.
Semi-Open Adoption: An adoption plan
in which there is planned communication
through pictures, letters, phone calls, or
e-mails, often spelled out in a written
agreement that takes place between the
adoptive parents and the birthparents;
communication is arranged and facilitated
through a third party who is sensitive to the
needs of both families.
Special Needs Adoption: The adoption of
children who have physical, emotional, and/
or developmental disabilities, who are older
children, or who are members of a sibling
group or a racial minority (as defined by the
federal government), either born domestically
or in another country.
Special Placement Needs: The needs of
a child for an adoptive family specifically
equipped or trained to meet the child’s
needs and/or disabilities. Examples might
be prospective adoptive parents who have a
flexible parenting style that better enables
them to parent a child with challenging
behaviors, or prospective adoptive parents who
have completed the specialized training and
education necessary to better parent a child
with specific medical needs such as HIV/
Traditional Agency Adoption: An adoption
in which an agency counsels and brings
together expectant parents, children, and
Transracial Adoption: Adoption of a child of
one race, color, or national origin by a family
of a different race, color, or national origin.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
(sometimes referred to as “Surrenders” or
“Relinquishment”): The legal step necessary
for parents to place their child with adoptive
Waiting Children: Children who are available
for adoption and are waiting for an adoptive
family to be identified who can meet their
Waiting Families: Families who have been
approved for adoption and are waiting for a
referral or to be chosen by expectant parents.