ADOPTION TERMS, Page 1
- Desertion of a child by a parent or adult primary care giver
with no provisions for continued childcare nor with any apparent
intention to return to resume caregiving.
- Abuse and Neglect
- Physical, sexual and/or emotional maltreatment. Child abuse and
neglect is defined as any recent act or failure to act resulting in
imminent risk of serious harm, death, serious physical or emotional
harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child (a person under the
age of 18, unless the child protection law of the State in which the
child resides specifies a younger age for cases not involving sexual
abuse) by a parent or caretaker (including any employee of a
residential facility or any staff person providing out-of-home care)
who is responsible for the child's welfare. Abuse and neglect are
defined in both Federal and State legislation. The Federal
legislation provides a foundation for States by identifying a
minimum set of acts or behaviors that characterize maltreatment.
This legislation also defines what acts are considered physical
abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse (maltreatment).
- Access veto systems
- Type of reunion registry system. The veto is a document filed by
one party to the adoption which registers that person's refusal to
be contacted or denial of release of identifying information. In an
access veto or nondisclosure request system, an adopted adult may
receive identifying information about another party if no veto is on
file. Some States may have provisions for a contact veto, permitting
a party seeking information access to identifying information,
including an original birth certificate, but prohibiting contact
between the parties.
- Active registries
- Reunion registries which do not require that both parties
register their consent. Once one party is registered, a designated
individual (often an agency or court representative) is assigned to
contact those persons being sought and determine their wishes for
the release of information.
- An adopted person. Some adopted persons object to being called
an "adoptee" because: (1) It distinguishes an adopted child from a
birth child in the same family. (One does not say, "This is my birth
son, Johnny.") (2) It implies adoption is the central fact of that
person's life (which, of course, it may be).
- A court action in which an adult assumes legal and other
responsibilities for another, usually a minor.
- Adoption agency
- An organization, usually licensed by the State, that provides
services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and children who need
families. Agencies may be public or private, secular or religious,
for profit or nonprofit.
- Adoption assistance
- Monthly subsidy payments to help adoptive parents raise children
with special needs. These payments were initially made possible by
the enactment of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of
1980 (P.L. 96-272) which provided
Federal funding for children eligible under title IV-E of the Social
Security Act; States also fund monthly payments for children with
special needs who are not eligible for federally-funded subsidy
payments. "Adoption assistance" can also refer to any help given to
- Adoption attorney
- A legal professional who has experience with filing, processing,
and finalizing adoptions in a court having jurisdiction.
- Adoption benefits
- Compensation to workers through employer-sponsored programs.
Some examples of such benefits are financial assistance or monetary
reimbursement for the expenses of adopting a child, or provision of
"parental" or "family" leave.
- Adoption consultant
- Anyone who helps with the placement of a child, but specifically
someone who makes it his or her private business to facilitate
- Adoption disruption
- The interruption of an adoption prior to finalization--sometimes
called a "failed adoption" or a "failed placement".
- Adoption dissolution
- The interruption or "failure" of an adoption after finalization
that requires court action.
- Adoption exchange
- An organization which recruits adoptive families for children
with special needs using print, radio, television and Internet
recruitment, as well as matching parties (which bring together
prospective adoptive parents, waiting children and their social
workers in a child-focused setting). Adoption exchanges can be
local, state, regional, national or international in scope.
- Adoption facilitator
- Individual whose business involves connecting birth parents and
prospective adoptive parents for a fee (only allowed in a few
- Adoption insurance (adoption cancellation insurance)
- Insurance which protects against financial loss which can be
incurred after a birthmother changes her mind and decides not to
place her child for adoption.
- Adoption petition
- The legal document through which prospective parents request the
court's permission to adopt a specific child.
- Adoption placement
- The point at which a child begins to live with prospective
adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized.
- Adoption plan
- Birth parents' decisions to allow their child to be placed for
- Adoption reversal
- Reclaiming of a child (originally voluntarily placed with
adoptive parents) by birth parent(s) who have had a subsequent
change of heart. State laws vary in defining time limits and
circumstances under which a child may be reclaimed.
- Adoption subsidies
- Federal or State adoption benefits (also known as adoption
assistance) designed to help offset the short- and long-term
costs associated with adopting children who need special services.
To be eligible for the Federal IV-E subsidy program, children must
meet each of the following characteristics:
- a court has ordered that the child cannot or should not be
returned to the birth family
- the child has special needs, as determined by the state's
definition of special needs
- a "reasonable effort" has been made to place the child without
- the child must have been eligible for Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) at the time of the adoption, or the child's birth
family must have been receiving - or eligible to receive - Aid for
Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
Benefits available through subsidy programs vary by State, but
- monthly cash payments - up to an amount that is $1 less
than the foster care payment the state would have made if the
child were still in basic family foster care
- medical assistance - through the federal program (and
some state programs), Medicaid benefits
- social services - post-adoption services such as
respite care, counseling, day care, etc.
- nonrecurring adoption expenses - a one-time
reimbursement (depending upon the state, between $400 and $2,000)
for costs such as adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees,
physical and psychological examinations, and other expenses
related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs.
Before adopting a child with special needs, ask your agency about
the availability of federal and state subsidies. To request more
information about federal and state subsidy programs, call the
National Adoption Assistance Training, Resource, and Information
Network (NAATRIN) at (800) 470-6665.
- Adoption tax credits
- Non-refundable credit which reduces taxes owed by adoptive
parents who claim adoption expense reimbursement under P.L. 104-188;
may be claimed on Federal taxes (and in some States with similar
legislation, on State taxes). Through the Federal Internal Revenue
Service program, which took effect in tax year 1997, adoptive
parents whose annual adjusted gross income is $115,000 or less, can
take advantage of up to $5,000 ($6,000 for special needs adoption)
in tax credits to offset qualifying adoption expenses. After 2001,
the adoption credit applies only to an adoption of a child with
special needs and does not apply to an adoption of a foreign child.
The credit calculation can include adoption fees, court fees,
attorney fees, and travel expenses, incurred during or after 1997.
- Adoption tax exclusions
- IRS provisions in
the Federal tax code which allow adoptive parents to exclude cash or
other adoption benefits for qualifying adoption expenses received
from a private-sector employer when computing the family's adjusted
gross income for tax purposes.
- Adoption triad
- The three major parties in an adoption: birth parents, adoptive
parents, and adopted child. Also called "adoption triangle" or
- Adult adoption
- The adoption of a person over the age of majority (as defined in
- Agency adoption
- Adoptive placements made by licensed organizations that screen
prospective adoptive parents and supervise the placement of children
in adoptive homes until the adoption is finalized.
- Alcohol-related birth defects
- Physical or cognitive deficits in a child which result from
maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy--includes but is not
limited to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol
- Anti-social behavior
- Actions deviating sharply from the social norm. Children with
such behaviors commonly skip school, get into fights, run away from
home, persistently lie, use drugs or alcohol, steal, vandalize
property, and violate school and home rules.
- A simplified certification of public (including notarized)
documents used in countries that participate in a Hague Convention.
This simplified form contains numbered fields (which allow the data
to be understood by all participating countries regardless of the
official language of the issuing country). The completed apostille
form certifies the authenticity of the document's signature, the
capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, and
identifies the seal/stamp which the document bears. Documents needed
for intercountry adoptions require the attachment of an apostille
(rather than authentication forms) if the foreign country
participates in the convention.
- Artificial insemination
- Impregnation of a woman by one of many possible artificial
reproductive technologies (ARTs).
- The ability of a child to form significant and stable emotional
connections with other people, beginning in early infancy with one
or more primary caretakers. Failure to establish such connections
before the age of five may result in difficulties with social
relationships as severe as reactive attachment disorder.
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- A lifelong developmental disability (with onset in infancy,
childhood or adolescence) that affects a child's ability to
concentrate and control impulses. A child who has ADD is not
hyperactive, but often has problems sustaining attention in task or
play activities, difficulty in persisting with tasks to completion,
and concentrating for longer periods of time.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- A lifelong developmental disability (with onset in infancy,
childhood or adolescence) that involves problems with attention
span, impulse control, and activity level at home, at school or at
work. Typical behaviors include: fidgeting with hands or squirming
in seat; difficulty remaining seated when required; distractibility;
difficulty waiting for turns in groups; difficulty staying on task
with chores or play activities; difficulty playing quietly;
excessive talking; inattention; restlessness; and engaging in
physically dangerous activities without considering consequences.
- Autistic disorder
- A pervasive developmental disturbance with onset before age
three, characterized by markedly abnormal or impaired development in
social interaction and communication and a markedly restricted array
of activity and interests. Manifestations of the disorder vary
greatly depending on the developmental level and age of the
individual. Autistic children can be withdrawn and show little
interest in others or in typical childhood activities and instead
exhibit repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests
- Bipolar disorder
- A category of mental illnesses in which mood and affect are
disturbed--characterized by irregular cycles of mania and/or
depression. During manic periods, the individual may be in a very
elevated mood and exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity, wakefulness,
and distractibility or irritability. In very severe episodes,
psychotic symptoms may also be present. Individuals experiencing
depressive periods can exhibit sustained symptoms of depressed mood,
diminished pleasure or interest in most activities, fatigue, sleep
disturbance (either insomnia or hypersomnia), weight loss or weight
gain, and slowed thinking.
- Birth parent
- A child's biological parent.
- Black market adoption
- An adoption in which one or more parties make a profit from a
child placement, as opposed to receiving payment for providing
counseling, location, or other services.
- Boarder babies
- Infants abandoned in hospitals because of the parents' inability
to care for them. These babies are usually born HIV-positive or drug
- The process of developing lasting emotional ties with one's
immediate caregivers; seen as the first and primary developmental
task of a human being and central to the person's ability to relate
to others throughout life.
- Central auditory processing disorder
- A condition in which an individual has difficulty comprehending
and integrating information that is heard, although hearing is
normal. Central auditory processing disorder occurs when the ear and
the brain do not coordinate fully. The causes of this disorder are
varied and can include head trauma, lead poisoning, possibly chronic
ear infections and other unknown reasons. Because there are many
different possibilities or even combinations of causes each child
must be individually assessed.
- Cerebral palsy
- A non-hereditary condition which results from brain damage
before, during, or after birth. Children with cerebral palsy lack
muscle control in one or more parts of their bodies or may
experience speech and language difficulties, depending on the area
of the brain damaged. Individuals with cerebral palsy can possess
very normal mental functions.
- The approval process (detailed in State laws or regulations)
that takes place to ensure, insofar as possible, that adoptive or
foster parents are suitable, dependable, and responsible.
"Certification" of documents involves a seal or apostille required
by law or regulation affixed to a public document (such as a birth
or marriage certificate or court record) to attest to its
authenticity or to a general document to attest that the document.
has been notarized by an authorized official.
- Closed adoption
- An adoption that involves total confidentiality and sealed
- Concurrent planning
- A process used in foster care case management by which child
welfare staff work toward family reunification and, at the same
time, develop an alternative permanency plan for the child (such as
permanent placement with a relative, or adoption) should family
reunification efforts fail. Concurrent planning is intended to
reduce the time a child spends in foster care before a child is
placed with a permanent family.
- Conduct disorder
- A condition characterized by a repetitive and persistent pattern
of behavior which violates the basic rights of others or major
age-appropriate societal norms or rules. A child or teen with
conduct disorder may:
- display aggressive conduct (bully or threaten others; initiate
fights; use weapons that could cause serious harm; force someone
into sexual activity; be physically aggressive or cruel to people
- engage in nonaggressive behaviors that result in property loss
- engage in deceitfulness or theft (steal; or lie or break
promises to obtain goods or to avoid debts or obligations)
- persistently engage in serious violations of rules that lead
to confrontations with parents, school suspensions or expulsion,
problems in the workplace, or legal difficulties (staying out
after dark without permission; running away from home; truancy;
Conduct disorder may lead to the development of Antisocial
Personality Disorder during adulthood.
- Confidential Intermediary
- State employee or trained volunteer sanctioned by the courts,
who is given access to sealed adoption files for the purpose of
conducting a search. A confidential intermediary may be hired by the
inquiring party to conduct a searches for an adopted adult or birth
parent or other birth relatives (depending on State laws), make
contact with each party, and obtain each person's consent or denial
for the release of information. Depending on the particular laws of
the State, contact may be attempted once, after a specific time
period, or the file may be closed permanently if the party being
sought cannot be found.
- The legally required process of keeping identifying or other
significant information secret; the principle of ethical practice
which requires social workers and other professional not to disclose
information about a client without the client's consent.
- Consent to adopt or consent to adoption
- Legal permission for the adoption to proceed.
- A long-term (formal or informal) agreement to support the needs
of children with developmental disabilities by which extra
caregivers support parents by providing ongoing respite parenting
- The care, control, and maintenance of a child which can be
legally awarded by the court to an agency (in abuse and neglect
cases) or to parents (in divorce, separation, or adoption
proceedings). Child welfare departments retain legal custody and
control of major decisions for a child in foster care; foster
parents do not have legal custody of the children they care for.
resource: National Adoption