Adoption Glossary - A

As you begin to research adoption, you'll find that it comes with its own adoption terms and jargon. Although some adoption terms may be defined a little differently by another adoption professional, we hope the adoption glossary below will help you make sense of some buzzwords used in adoption. If you're unable to find the information you're looking for in the adoption glossary, call one of our knowledgeable Adoption Specialists at
1-800-ADOPTION.
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Abandonment - Desertion of a child by a parent or adult primary caregiver with no provisions for continued childcare nor with any apparent intention to return to resume caregiving.
Abuse and Neglect - Physical, sexual and/or emotional maltreatment. Child abuse and neglect is defined as any recent act or failure to act resulting in imminent risk of serious harm, death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child (a person under the age of 18, unless the child protection law of the state in which the child resides specifies a younger age for cases not involving sexual abuse) by a parent or caretaker (including any employee of a residential facility or any staff person providing out-of-home care) who is responsible for the child's welfare. Abuse and neglect are defined in both federal and state legislation. The federal CAPTA legislation provides a foundation for states by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that characterize maltreatment. This legislation also defines what acts are considered physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse (maltreatment).
Access Veto Systems - Type of reunion registry system. The veto is a document filed by one party to the adoption which registers that person's refusal to be contacted or denial of release of identifying information. In an access veto or non-disclosure request system, an adopted adult may receive identifying information about another party if no veto is on file. Some states may have provisions for a contact veto, permitting a party seeking information access to identifying information, including an original birth certificate, but prohibiting contact between the parties.
Active Registries - Reunion registries which do not require that both parties register their consent. Once one party is registered, a designated individual (often an agency or court representative) is assigned to contact those persons being sought and determine their wishes for the release of information.
ADD - Acronym for attention deficit disorder.
ADHD - Acronym for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Adjudicatory Hearings - Held by the juvenile and family court to determine whether a child has been maltreated or whether another legal basis exists for the state to intervene to protect the child.
Adoptee - Any person who has been adopted.
Adoption - Legal process where parental rights are transferred from birth parents to adoptive parents.
Adoption Agency - Organization placing children in homes, under the jurisdiction of state or licensing laws.
Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) - Signed into law November 1997 and designed to improve the safety of children, to promote adoption and other permanent homes for children who need them and to support families. The law requires Child Protective Services (CPS) to provide more timely and focused assessment and intervention services to the children and families that are served within the CPS system.
Adoption Assistance - Monthly or one-time only subsidy payments to help adoptive parents raise children with special needs. These payments were initially made possible by the enactment of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-272) which provided federal funding for children eligible under title IV-E of the Social Security Act; States also fund monthly payments for children with special needs who are not eligible for federally funded subsidy payments. "Adoption assistance" can also refer to any help given to adoptive parents.
Adoption Attorney - Lawyers who arrange adoptive placements and specialize in adoption.
Adoption Benefits - Compensation to workers through employer-sponsored programs. Some examples of such benefits are financial assistance or monetary reimbursement for the expenses of adopting a child, or provision of "parental" or "family" leave.
Adoption Consultant - Anyone who helps with the placement of a child, but specifically someone who makes it his or her private business to facilitate adoptions.
Adoption Disruption - The interruption of an adoption prior to finalization - sometimes called a "failed adoption" or a "failed placement."
Adoption Dissolution - The interruption or "failure" of an adoption after finalization that requires court action.
Adoption Exchange - An organization which recruits adoptive families for children with special needs using print, radio, television and Internet recruitment, as well as matching parties (which bring together prospective adoptive parents, waiting children and their social workers in a child-focused setting). Adoption exchanges can be local, state, regional, national or international in scope.
Adoption Facilitator - Unlicensed organizations or individuals offering adoption services, which is illegal in 20 states.
Adoption Insurance (adoption cancellation insurance) - Insurance which protects against financial loss which can be incurred after a birth mother changes her mind and decides not to place her child for adoption.
Adoption Petition - The legal document through which prospective parents request the court's permission to adopt a specific child.
Adoption Placement - The point at which a child begins to live with prospective adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized.
Adoption Plan - A plan created between a birth mother and a social worker specifying all aspects and desires with regards to an adoption.
Adoption Professional - Employee of a licensed adoption agency or a trained and educated adoption authority who has training and experiences in adoption services and authorized by the agency to provide adoption services.
Adoption Reversal - Reclaiming of a child (originally voluntarily placed with adoptive parents) by birth parent(s) who have had a subsequent change of heart. State laws vary in defining time limits and circumstances under which a child may be reclaimed.
Adoption Subsidies - Federal or state adoption benefits (also known as adoption assistance) designed to help offset the short- and long-term costs associated with adopting children who need special services. To be eligible for the Federal IV-E subsidy program, children must meet each of the following characteristics: a court has ordered that the child cannot or should not be returned to the birth family; the child has special needs, as determined by the state's definition of special needs; a "reasonable effort" has been made to place the child without a subsidy; the child also must have been eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the time of the adoption, or the child's birth family must have been receiving - or eligible to receive - Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Benefits available through subsidy programs vary by state, but commonly include: monthly cash payments - up to an amount that is $1 less than the foster care payment the state would have made if the child were still in basic family foster care medical assistance - through the federal program (and some state programs), Medicaid benefits social services - post-adoption services such as respite care, counseling, day care, etc. nonrecurring adoption expenses - a one-time reimbursement (depending upon the state, between $400 and $2,000) for costs such as adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, physical and psychological examinations and other expenses related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs. Before adopting a child with special needs, ask your agency about the availability of federal and state subsidies.
Adoption Tax Credits - Non-refundable credit which reduces taxes owed by adoptive parents who claim adoption expense reimbursement under P.L. 104-188; may be claimed on federal taxes (and in some states with similar legislation, on state taxes).
Adoption Tax Exclusions - IRS provisions in the federal tax code which allow adoptive parents to exclude cash or other adoption benefits for qualifying adoption expenses received from a private-sector employer when computing the family's adjusted gross income for tax purposes.
Adoption Triad/Triangle - The three parties involved in an adoption: adoptee, adoptive parents and birth parents.
Adoptive Parent - Person(s) who legally assume parental rights/responsibilities for adopted child.
Adult Adoption - The adoption of a person over the age of majority (as defined in state law).
Agency Adoption - Adoptive placements made by licensed organizations that screen prospective adoptive parents and supervise the placement of children in adoptive homes until the adoption is finalized.
Agency Placement - Completion of an adoption.
Alcohol-Related Birth Defects - Physical or cognitive deficits in a child which result from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy - includes but is not limited to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE).
Anti-Social Behavior - Actions deviating sharply from the social norm. Children with such behaviors commonly skip school, get into fights, run away from home, persistently lie, use drugs or alcohol, steal, vandalize property and violate school and home rules.
Apostille - A simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents used in countries that participate in a Hague Convention. This simplified form contains numbered fields (which allow the data to be understood by all participating countries regardless of the official language of the issuing country). The completed apostille form certifies the authenticity of the document's signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, and identifies the seal/stamp which the document bears. Documents needed for intercountry adoptions require the attachment of an apostille (rather than authentication forms) if the foreign country participates in the convention.
Artificial Insemination - Impregnation of a woman by one of many possible artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs).
ASFA - Acronym for Adoption and Safe Families Act.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) - Medical technologies that assist in the impregnation of a female. Technologies include oocyte (or egg) donation, embryo donation, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination and sperm donation. Different medical procedures are used within each of these procedures.
Attachment - The ability of a child to form significant and stable emotional connections with other people, beginning in early infancy with one or more primary caretakers. Failure to establish such connections before the age of five may result in difficulties with social relationships as severe as reactive attachment disorder.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - A lifelong developmental disability (with onset in infancy, childhood or adolescence) that affects a child's ability to concentrate and control impulses. A child who has ADD is not hyperactive, but often has problems sustaining attention in task or play activities, difficulty in persisting with tasks to completion, and concentrating for longer periods of time.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - A lifelong developmental disability (with onset in infancy, childhood or adolescence) that involves problems with attention span, impulse control, and activity level at home, at school or at work. Typical behaviors include: fidgeting with hands or squirming in seat; difficulty remaining seated when required; distractibility; difficulty waiting for turns in groups; difficulty staying on task with chores or play activities; difficulty playing quietly; excessive talking; inattention; restlessness; and engaging in physically dangerous activities without considering consequences.
Autistic Disorder - A pervasive developmental disturbance with onset before age three, characterized by markedly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication and a markedly restricted array of activity and interests. Manifestations of the disorder vary greatly depending on the developmental level and age of the individual. Autistic children can be withdrawn and show little interest in others or in typical childhood activities and instead exhibit repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities.



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