Several terms related to the adoption process can be confusing.
The following list of terms can be helpful in clarifying the language of adoption:
Adoption Terms and Definitions
Adoption Decree: A legal order that finalizes an adoption to the adoptive parents
Adoption Plan: An arrangement made by the birthparents stating their expectations and preferred circumstances (i.e., open or closed adoption and level of involvement)
Adoption Triad: The child, birthparents, and adoptive parents
Birthfather: The biological father who has consented in the adoption plan
Birthmother: The biological mother placing the child for adoption
Finalization: The adoptive parents appear in court, asking to become the child’s legal parents. The judge grants the request if all is in order
Home Study: Assessment of the adoptive parents’ ability to provide a healthy home. This provides information on the couple’s health, home life, financial standing, background information, and even about their extended families. The assessment is done by a licensed social worker and submitted to the agency and court as part of the adoption decree.
Relinquishment Papers: Legal documents that the birthparents must sign, showing that they choose to place their child for adoption and that they terminate all legal rights to the child. These papers are normally signed no earlier than 48 hours after the child is born.