Adoption Terms to Know

Adoption terms and processes can be confusing. The following list of adoption words 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 birth parents stating their expectations and preferred circumstances (i.e., open or closed adoption and level of involvement)

Adoption Triad:  The child, birth parents, and adoptive parents

Birth father:  The biological father who has consented in the adoption plan

Birth mother:  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: Home study is an 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 birth parents 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.

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