Terms to Know

Several terms related to the adoption process can be confusing. Here is a list of several terms that can be helpful in understanding the language associated with adoption.

Terms and Definitions:

  • Adoption Decree: A legal order that finalizes an adoption to the adoptive parents
  • Adoption Plan: The expectations and intended outcome of the adoption. An arrangement made by the birthparents, which can state their wishes on circumstances, such as: Open or closed adoption, and how much involvement they want with their child.
  • Adoption Triad: The child, birthparents, and adoptive parents make up the triad.
  • 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 with the supervision, background, and so forth.
  • 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 they terminate all legal rights to the child. These papers are signed no earlier than 48 hours after the child is born.

“Types of Adoption,” Bethany Christian Services. www.bethany.org
“Starting Adoption,” Adoption.org. 1994.

Last updated: 12/2006