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Adoption Glossary

Adoption Glossary: Adoption A to Z

Adoptee: The individual, often a minor child, who is adopted by the adoptive parent(s).

Adoption Agency: A licensed agency, public or private, that arranges adoptions by taking custody of a child and then relinquishing that custody to the adoptive parents.

Adoption Assistance: Government financial assistance for adoptive parents who could ordinarily afford to care for a child, but who are adopting a child with special needs that require more financial support than the family can provide.

Adoption Attorney: An attorney focusing on adoption law, such as the attorneys at Bouneff, Chally & Koh. Adoption attorneys play a critical role in independent adoptions and are also needed to finalize agency adoptions.

Adoption Ceremony/Hearing: The ceremony in which the court finalizes an adoption. In Oregon, adoptive parents may choose to attend the signing of the General Judgment of Adoption; in Washington, adoptive parents are required to testify at the signing of the Decree of Adoption.

Adoption Tax Credit: A tax credit that allows adoptive parents within a certain income range to offset eligible adoption-related expenses.

Adoptive Parent(s): The individual or couple whose legal parental rights are established by an adoption. May refer to those hoping to adopt as well as those with an in-progress or completed adoption.

Adult Adoption: Adoption of an individual who is 18 years of age or older. Requires the consent of the adoptee as well as the adoptive parents.

Agency Adoption: An adoption completed with the assistance of an adoption agency. There is no difference between a finalized agency adoption and a finalized independent adoption.

Birth Parent(s): The individual or couple whose legal rights to a biological child are terminated by an adoption.

Birth Plan: The written plan for what will happen at the birth of the child, including how much time both parties will spend with the child in the hospital, agreed upon by the birth parents and adoptive parents.

Closed Adoption: An adoption in which the adoptive parents and child do not know the identity of the birth parents and/or the birth parents do not have any contact with the child after placement.

Consent Documents: The documents terminating a birth mother's parental rights to her child, which she usually signs at the hospital shortly after the birth. These are accompanied by a waiver that terminates her ability to revoke her consent.

Decree of Adoption: In Washington, the court-issued decree that indicates an adoption is legally finalized, usually around two months after the birth of the child.

Domestic Adoption: An adoption in which both the adoptive parents and the birth mother reside in the United States.

Expectant Parent(s): A term sometimes used to describe birth parents before the birth, to acknowledge that they may still choose to keep and parent their child.

Family Profile: The print or web profile that includes descriptions and photos of people wishing to adopt, used to help birth mothers pick families they are interested in meeting.

General Judgment of Adoption: In Oregon, the court-issued judgment that indicates an adoption is legally finalized, usually three to five months after the birth of the child.

Gestational Carrier: A woman who is contracted to carry and deliver a fetus that is not biologically hers, but which is created from intended parent or donor sperm and eggs and transferred to her via IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Home Study: A study of the adoptive parents' home and lifestyle that ensure that they can provide a suitable environment for raising a child, usually conducted once before the birth or placement (for a Pre-Placement Report) and again after placement but before the adoption is finalized (for a Post- Placement Report).

Independent Adoption: An adoption completed without an agency, with the assistance of an adoption attorney. There is no difference between a finalized agency adoption and a finalized independent adoption.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): An act that limits and oversees adoptions involving an "Indian Child."

International Adoption: An adoption in which the adoptive parents and the birth mother live in different countries.

Interstate Adoption: An adoption in which the adoptive parents and the birth mother live in different states. Interstate adoptions are subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): A law enacted uniformly by all 50 states and the District of Columbia that regulates the transportation and placement of children across state lines with the purpose of coordinating and supervising interstate adoptions. Approval in both the sending and receiving states is required before an adopted child is taken across state lines.

Irrevocable Consent: The birth mother's permanent termination of her parental rights. Usually accomplished through the signing of consent forms and a waiver of her right to revoke that consent.

Open Adoption: An adoption in which the adoptive parents and child know the identity of the birth parents and the birth mother has ongoing contact with the child throughout his or her life.

Open Adoption Agreement: A written, legally binding agreement between the adoptive parents and the birth parents about the degree and type of contact the birth parents will have with the child after the adoption.

Petition for Adoption: The paperwork filed with the court officially requesting the adoption.

Post-Placement Report: A report based on the adoptive parents' post-placement home study. Must be completed in both Oregon and Washington before the adoption can be finalized.

Pre-Placement Report: A report based on the adoptive parents' pre-placement home study. Must be completed in both Oregon and Washington before they can take the adoptee home.

Private Adoption Agency: A private agency, licensed and regulated by the state, which arranges and completes adoptions.

Public Adoption Agency: A government-run agency that arranges adoptions of children placed in their care by the state. Public agencies may specialize in placing older or "special needs" children.

Relative Adoption: Adoption in which the adoptive parent is related to the adoptee.

Second Parent Adoption: Adoption by the unmarried partner of a child's biological parent, such as the non-biological parent in a same-sex couple.

Single Parent Adoption: Adoption by a single individual.

Stepparent Adoption: Adoption by the married spouse of a child's biological parent.

Surrogacy: A contract arrangement where a surrogate carries and delivers a baby for the intended parents, either using some of her own biological material (traditional surrogacy) or using biological material from the intended parents or donors (gestational surrogacy). Depending on the circumstances of the surrogacy, one of the intended parents may complete a stepparent or second parent adoption after the birth.

Surrogate: A woman who is contracted to carry and deliver a baby for intended parents.