Beginners Guide to Adoption Terminology
Our friends over at Family Advocacy Law Firm have developed a wonderful and comprehensive guide to basic adoption terminology. We think it’s a great resource for the beginner considering adoption! I’ve added comments throughout on how some of these terms apply to adoption profile books. I think it’s important to keep these terms in mind when crafting your adoption profile book- positive adoption language is so important. You can easily turn away an expectant parent by using the wrong terminology. The world of adoption is always evolving, so it’s key to stay up-to-date on the current vocabulary used within the community.
One of our priorities is to positively change the adoption conversation. Both Expectant Mothers, Birth Families, and Adoptive Families can all find greater joy in their adoption experiences if we all know a little better and do a little better when it comes to how we speak about adoption. In addition, we can help society better understand and appreciate adoption when we speak positively about it. We hope this guide helps.
A person who was adopted
Legal establishment of parent and child relationship
Monthly subsidy payments that help parents of children with special needs who were adopted
An attorney who files, processes, and finalizes adoptions in court; in some cases, these attorneys can also help arrange matches between Expectant Mothers and hopeful Adoptive Families
A personalized plan developed by an Expectant Mother and documented by an adoption attorney that details her wishes for the placement of her child
ADOPTION SUPPORT COORDINATOR
A person who helps Expectant Mothers and hopeful Adoptive Families navigate the delicate process of adoption with joy and confidence
The major parties of an adoption: birth family, adoptive family, and the child who was adopted
A man/woman who has placed his/her child for adoption and signed papers to terminate his/her parental rights (also called first father/mother)
This is a very common term used in adoption profile books. You often introduce yourself to expectant parents with “Dear Birth Mother”. We suggest this language!
An adoption where there is no communication between the Birth Family and Adoptive Family and all records are sealed
CONSENT TO ADOPT
A birth parent’s legal permission for their child to be adopted
An adoption that has been stopped by the birth family taking custody of the child; occurs before finalization
A woman who is pregnant and considering adoption for her child
The final step in the adoption process; the adoptive family appears at a court hearing where the judge orders that the adoption be granted and the adoptive parents be named the legal, permanent parents of the child
The process through which an accredited agency educates and evaluates prospective adoptive families
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children; the law that establishes uniform practices regarding the adoption of a child across states
Information from birth families or adoptive families that reveals their identity
Our Chosen Child can remove any and all identifying information in your adoption profile booklet! We can remove house numbers, vehicle plates, and logos or tags in your photos!
An adoption not facilitated by an adoption agency
An adoption by a biological relative
LEGAL RISK PLACEMENT
The placement of a child into an adoptive home prior to the birth parents‘ parental rights being terminated
An adoption that involves varying amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between the birth family and adoptive family ranging from letters and pictures to calls and visits
The period of time between when the child to be adopted lives with the adopted family and the adoption is finalized
‘Placement’ or ‘placed’ are important terms we think you should use in your profile book- as opposed to ‘giving up’ or ‘gave up’!
Visits conducted by an accredited agency or social worker to provide counseling and support to the adoptive family after placement has occurred and before the adoption is finalized
See independent adoption
Agencies not associated with the government
Social service agencies run by the state or individual counties; these agencies mostly deal with children in foster care
When an Expectant Mother voluntarily terminates her parental rights
The period of time a Birth Mother has to change her mind and regain custody of her child after she has signed consent; revocation periods vary from state-to-state; in South Carolina, for example, there is no revocation period and the Birth Mother cannot regain custody of the child; however, in Georgia, there is a four day revocation period
The attempt to locate and/or communicate with a birth parent or biological child
The Birth Family and Adoptive Family meet one or two times but reveal no identifying information
An adoption in which the child and Adoptive Family are not of the same race
Children in the public foster care or welfare system who cannot be returned to their birth families and are waiting to be adopted by loving families
Referring to an expectant parent’s child as ‘your child’ versus ‘our child’ is important because it removes the assumption that the expectant parent will choose adoption
We suggest clients use ‘your child’ versus ‘our child’ as much as possible in adoption profile books!