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Adoption Glossary


Adoptee - An adopted person.

Adoption - A court proceeding in which an adult assumes legal and other responsibilities for another as if the adoptee had been born into his or her family.

Adoption agency - An organization, usually licensed by the State, that provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents and children who need families. Agencies may be public or private, secular or religious, for profit or non profit.

Adoption Petition - The legal document through which prospective parents request the court’s permission to adopt a specific child.

Adoption plan - Birth parents’ decisions to allow their child to be placed for adoption.

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.

Birth parent - A birth parent is a child’s biological parent.

Decree of Adoption - A legal order that finalizes an adoption.

Finalization - The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a court hearing during which the judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents.

Home study - A home study is the process through which prospective adoptive parents are educated about adoption and evaluated to determine their suitability to adopt.

Identifying information - Information about birth parents which discloses their identities.

Inter-country or international adoption - The adoption of a child who is a citizen of one country by adoptive parents who are citizens of a different country.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) - An agreement regulating the placement of children across state lines. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have independently enacted the ICPC as law in their respective jurisdictions. Adoptive parents taking custody of a child in 1 state require ICPC approval in order to return with the child to their home state.

Non-identifying information - Facts about the birth parents or adoptive parents that would not lead to their discovery by another person.

Open adoption - An open adoption involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families, ranging from sending letters to exchanging names and/or information. The birth and adoptive families determine the degree of openness they wish to have.

Placement date - The time at which the child comes to live with the adopting parents.

Post-placement - This is the time after the child has been placed in your home and before finalization.

Post placement supervision - The range of counseling and/or agency services provided to the adoptive parents and adopted child after to the child’s adoptive placement and before the adoption is legally finalized in court. Social worker reports of this required supervisory period are forwarded to the court.

Pre-Certification - The legal process by which the adoptive parent(s) becomes authorized to take custody of a child. The Court determines the suitability of prospective adoptive parents to take custody of a child. Upon favorable review of medical, criminal, health and financial records, the court will grant an Order of Certification. An Order of Certification may be valid for a period of up to 18 months.

Putative father - Legal term for the alleged or supposed father of a child.

Putative father registry - Registry system that serves to ensure that a birth father’s rights are protected. Some states require that birth fathers register at these facilities while other states presume that he does not wish to pursue paternity rights if he doesn’t initiate any legal action.

Relinquishment - Voluntary termination of parental rights; sometimes referred to as a surrender or as making an adoption plan for one’s child.

Step-parent adoption - The adoption of a child by the new spouse of the birth parent.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) - The legal process which involuntarily severs a parent’s rights to a child.

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Sarisohn Law Partners LLP
350 Veterans Memorial Hwy
Commack, NY 11725
Phone: (631) 543-7667
Fax: (631) 543-7901

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