Adoption Definitions

Adoption
When you become an adoptive parent, you will have the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent.

Advisement
As required by applicable state law, a birthmother is advised about legal and procedural issues prior to relinquishing her parental rights or consenting to an adoption.

Alleged Birthfather
A man identified by the birthmother as a possible birthfather must have his rights terminated before the baby is free for adoption.

Birthparent
The biological parent of a child.

Caseworker
During your adoption process, a professional social worker will conduct a homestudy. The caseworker works with the adopting parents and birthparents before and after the adoption is completed. Be kind to your caseworker, it can make help expedite the adoption process.

Closed Adoption
Some birthparents and adopting parents prefer anonymity. If you choose a closed adoption, you will not meet the birthparents and not learn their identity. You will not have any contact with birthparents after you adopt the child. Your adoption agency acts as an intermediary between you and the birthparents. When your adopted child is older, they may want to learn the identity of their birthparents. Check with your local adoption agency about the laws in your state and how they treat the release of identifying information.

Dear Birthmother Letter
You may need to create a parent profile or scrapbook to match-up with a prospective birthmother. You can think of it like a resume describing why you will make a great parent. You may want to write a synopsis of your family goals and background, and include photographs or videos to demonstrate why you will be such a great parents(s). This is your chance to set yourself apart from other potential parents. Finding a birthmother can be competitive, so do your best to sell yourself. When a prospective birthmother is ready to begin choosing a family to work with, she will receive these documents from her adoption agency.

Domestic Adoption
This refers to an adoption when the adoptive family and the child adopted both reside within the same country.

Domestic Partner or Stepparent Adoption
This process secures a second, legal parent for a child and is used when the parents are registered domestic partners (or legally married). In most cases an amended birth certificate can be ordered listing the partner as the other/second parent.

Dossier
Angelina and Madonna are well aware of how to prepare a Dossier. It is a set of documents used to support a petition to adopt a child from another county. While the specific paperwork varies by country, it tends to be similar to the documentation required for a domestic adoption in the US.

Facilitator
A facilitator is a matchmaker, acting as an intermediary between birthparents and adopting parents. Facilitators are not accredited, so be careful in your selection process.

Finalization
This is when the relinquishment paperwork is completed and court legalizes the adoption. Finalization occurs several months after the child has been placed with the adoptive parent(s).

Homestudy
Based on state law, a report is required for individuals and couples who wish to adopt. The goal of the homestudy is to determine if the parents can provide a home for an adopted child. During this process, the adopting parents will be required to provide detailed information about themselves and their plans and intentions as parents.

ICPC
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is statutory law in all 50 states, Washington DC and the US Virgin Islands and is a binding contract between member jurisdictions. The ICPC establishes uniform legal and administrative procedures governing the interstate placement of children. ICPC must be completed if the child being placed and the adoptive parents reside in different states. The ICPC must be filed and a state must grant consent before moving a child to your home state.

International Adoption
Refers to an adoption of a child born in a foreign country by adoptive parents living in the United States.

Match
A match occurs when a birthmother (or birthparents) or surrogate and the future parents make a verbal commitment to work toward an adoption or surrogacy.

Open Adoption
With an open adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents identification information is shared between each party. In some cases, an on-going relationship is created before and after the baby is adopted.

Post-Adoption Agreement
Post-adoption contact agreements, sometimes referred to as cooperative adoption or open adoption agreements, are arrangements that allow some kind of contact between a child’s adoptive family and members of the child’s birth family after the child’s adoption has been finalized. These arrangements can range from informal, mutual understandings between the birth and adoptive families to written, formal contracts. See the related State Statues and download the Post Adoption Agreements by State.

Presumed Birthfather
A presumed birthfather has the same rights as the birthmother, and must sign a relinquishment in the same way after the child’s birth.

Private Adoption Agency
This is an organization licensed by the state to prepare homestudies, complete relinquishment of birthparents’ parental rights, conduct post-placement supervision and finalize adoptions. Services may also include outreach and counseling support to adopting parents and birthparents.

Relinquishment
This refers to the legal termination of birthparents’ parental rights. After the birthmother signs relinquishment papers, they are filed with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and it becomes irrevocable.

Second Parent Adoption
This is common among gay and lesbian parents. This occurs when the biological or legal parent of a child or children is in a relationship with another adult wanting to share parental rights and responsibilities. In contrast to stepparent adoption/domestic partner adoption second parent adoption is used only when the parents cannot marry or become domestic partners. The biological or legal parent consents to relinquish sole custody of the child so that his/her partner can become a second, legal parent. The process takes many months to complete and an attorney is typically involved to file the paperwork.

Learn how to adopt a child, at the Health and Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Be sure to assess the reputation of licensed, private adoption agencies. The Health and Human Services administration lists the criteria for checking on an agency’s reputation.

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