Adoptee: A person who joins a family by adoption.
Adoption: A permanent, legally binding arrangement whereby persons other than the biological parents parent the child.
Adoption Agency: An organization that is licensed by a particular state to educate and prepare families to adopt children and to do all the necessary legal, administrative and social work to ensure that adoptions are in the best interests of the children.
Adoption Order/Decree: The document issued by the court upon finalization of an adoption, stating that the adoptee is the legal child of the adoptive parents.
Adoption Plan: The unique, individual plan a particular set of biological parents makes for the adoption of their child.
Adoptive Parent(s): A person or persons who become the permanent parents with all the social, legal rights and responsibilities incumbent upon any parent.
Birth Certificate: When a child is born a certified document indicates the birth information of a person including mother’s and father’s name and the name given to the child at the time of birth. Once the adoption is finalized, the original birth certificate is amended reflecting the adoptive parents as the child’s parents and the original birth certificate is sealed and in many states remains confidential until the child is 18 years old.
Birth parents: The parents who conceived a child, made an adoption plan for the child and subsequently relinquished their parental rights to the child and created an adoption plan. Also referred to as the biological parents.
Employer Adoption Benefit Package: Adoption benefits provided to employees as part of an employer-sponsored benefit program, which are included within their employment compensation package.
Facilitator: An individual that is not licensed as an adoption agency or licensed as an attorney, and who is engaged in the matching of biological parents with adoptive parents.
Finalization: The court hearing that results in the adoption order. This is the moment when the adoptee becomes the permanent, legally adopted child of the adoptive parents.
Homestudy: A three-part process required before a child can be placed with a family for foster care or adoption: (1) Written portion includes autobiographies, references, medical reports, financial statements, child abuse and criminal clearances and other written materials; (2) Social work process includes a series of visits in the applicants’ home to discuss a variety of issues from the applicants’ backgrounds to their motivations to adopt and their understanding of adoption and parenting; (3) Educational process includes training in adoption and parenting issues. The end result of this process is a written document completed by a licensed agency giving a summary of the applicants’ family life. This document indicates approval of the applicants for adoption. In most states it must be updated annually.
Match or Matching: The process of bringing together qualified prospective adoptive parents and willing biological parents, who by choice choose to explore the compatibility of each other and who can agree on the terms under which the adoptive parents can adopt the child.
Placement: A term used to describe the point in time when the child comes to live with the adoptive parents in their home.
Tax Credit (Adoption): A tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from the adoptive parents’ tax liability.