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Glossary

ADD
Attention Deficit Disorder
 
ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
 
AFCARS
Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.( AFCARS) is a system for collecting data on children in foster care and children who have been adopted. State child welfare agencies are responsible for reporting to the federal government on children in the state's foster care system, and on children who have been adopted under the auspices of the state child welfare agency.
 
ASFA
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) is a federal law which was established to promote the safety, permanence, and adoption of children in foster care. ASFA amends the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 by taking further steps to promote the safety and permanence of children who have been abused or neglected.
 
The law limits the amount of time a child may stay in foster care by establishing shorter timelines for determining when children in foster care must have a plan for permanency. The law states that permanency court hearings must be held for children no later than 12 months after they enter foster care. The law also states that termination of parental rights proceedings must be begun for any child who has been in the care of a state agency for 15 out of the most recent 22 months. Exceptions may be made to this requirement if the child is in the care of a relative or for other compelling reasons.
 
ASFA also promotes interstate adoptions by prohibiting state agencies from denying or delaying a child's adoptive placement when an approved family is available outside of the child's jurisdiction. All 50 states have passed new legislation to comply with ASFA.
acting out.
 
When describing a child's behavior, acting out refers to expression of emotions, particularly feelings such as anger, sadness, through actions as opposed to words. Behavior which may be appropriate to younger children, such as a throwing a temper tantrum, may fall into the category of acting out for an older child. Children who have been sexually abused may engage in sexual acting out behavior.
 
addendum
An addendum, also called an update, is a brief addition made to a homestudy to bring its contents up to date, and keep the homestudy current and usable.
 
adoptee
A person who joins a family through adoption. An adoptee may be an adult who was adopted as a child.
 
adoption
A permanent, legally binding arrangement through which a person, usually a child or teenager, becomes a member of a new family. In this arrangement, persons other than the birthparents assume all parental rights and obligations. The birthparents no longer have these rights and obligations and are no longer the legal parents of the child.
 
adoption agency
An organization that is licensed to prepare families to adopt children and/or to place waiting children with adoptive families.
 
adoption assistance agreement
An adoption assistance agreement is an arrangement for providing assistance to families who adopt children with special needs who are in the custody of a state or county department. In addition to financial assistance (subsidy), it may include a service subsidy to cover needs such as respite care or medical equipment. An adoption assistance agreement should be completed and signed prior to finalization.
 
adoption assistance programs
State and federal programs that provide financial and medical assistance to help parents care for children with special needs.
 
adoption benefits
Benefits to employees who are adopting a child or children, offered by some employers. They may include adoption information and referral services, paid or unpaid leave time, and/or financial reimbursement.
 
adoption certificate, adoption decree
An adoption certificate may also be called an adoption decree. A legal document issued by the court upon finalization of an adoption that certifies a child has been adopted, the adoption has been finalized, and the adoptee is the legal child of the adoptive parents.
 
adoption exchange
An adoption exchange is an organization that assists in matching children in need of homes with parents wishing to adopt. As a rule, exchanges do not approve families for adoption, have children in their custody, or place children. However, they work closely with agencies that do these things, and perform other support and resource services, such as maintaining web sites featuring photolistings of waiting children. Families may register themselves or have their worker register them with one or more exchanges. Many exchanges are run by state governments, while others are run by non-profit organizations.
 
adoption petition
An adoption petition or intent to adopt petition is a brief document which gives identifying information about the adoptive parents and the child to be adopted. This, together with the adoptive parents' homestudy, is filed with the court to initiate adoption proceedings.
 
adoption plan, individual plan
A particular set of plans birth parents makes for the adoption of their child. "Making an adoption plan for a child" is a positive alternative to phrases such as "giving up a baby" or "putting a child up for adoption."
 
adoption triad
The three major people in an adoption: birth parent, adoptive parent, and adopted child or adult adopted person. The term "adoption triad" has generally replaced the less positive "adoption triangle." "Adoption circle" may also be used.
 
adoptive parent, adoptive family
A person or persons who become the permanent parents through adoption, with all the social, legal rights and responsibilities of any parent.
 
advocacy
Active support, defense, arguing for a cause, idea, or policy. As a prospective adoptive parent, you are encouraged to become your own advocate as you are navigating your way through the adoption process, acquiring the skills and knowledge to be an active participant in moving the process along. These advocacy skills will continue to be valuable after placement, to ensure that the adopted child receives needed services, such as medical care and appropriate educational placement.
 
affidavit
A legal document in which the party who makes it swears that the information contained in the document is true and correct to the best of his or her knowledge.
 
age out
Aging out," aging out of the foster care system" refers to a young person reaching the age of 18 or 21 depending on state regulations and therefore no longer considered eligible for adoption. Plans are usually made is to prepare the youth for independent living.
 
agency, adoption agency
An organization that is licensed to prepare families to adopt children and/or to place waiting children with adoptive families.
 
agency adoption
An adoption that is arranged by a public or private adoption agency, as opposed to an independent adoption or private adoption, which may be arranged by an adoption lawyer or other facilitator.
 
amended birth certificate
The document, issued after a child has been adopted, reflects the adoptive parents as the child's parents.
 
Apgar scores
Apgar scores or Apgars are the results of a series of brief tests given to newborn infants. Five areas are tested, with two points given in each area. For an infant in good condition, the highest possible score is ten. The areas tested are heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes and color. Scores are generally taken at one minute and five minutes after birth.
 
approved
A family approved to adopt is one that has completed the homestudy process and for whom the homestudy document has been written or updated, signed, and dated within the past year (or other period specified by the state in which the family lives). 
 
available
Refers to a waiting child is currently in need of an adoptive family and ready to begin the adoption process as soon as a family is located. Many in the adoption community prefer the more positive terms "waiting child" or "child in need of a family."
 
biological
In the adoption community, the term biological is often used to describe a genetic relationship between individuals. Since all people are actually "biological," many prefer to use other words to describe these relations, such as "birth children" or "children who were born to you" instead of "your biological children."
 
biracial
An individual whose racial heritage includes two different races. When using this as a descriptive term, it is helpful to indicate what the two races are, e.g. biracial African American/Latino.
 
birth certificate (amended)
The document issued after a child has been adopted reflecting the adoptive parents as the child's parents.
 
birth certificate (original)
A certified document, usually obtained only through a government agency, which 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, as well as the date and place of birth.
 
birthfamily, birth relatives
An individual's relatives by birth, as opposed to relatives in the family that adopted that individual. Birth families include extended families as well as birth parents and siblings.
 
birth order
The order in which children in a family were born. Each child has a place in the birth order (first child, youngest daughter, etc.) and adopting a child or children may change that order.
 
birthparent, birthmother, birthfather
The parents who gave birth to a child. In the adoption community, these terms usually refers to the parents who gave birth to a child, made an adoption plan for the child and subsequently relinquished the child for adoption.
 
CASA worker
Court Appointed Special Advocate is trained community volunteer who is assigned to a particular child and speaks for the best interests of a child in court.
 
CPS
Child Protective Services. A branch of the Department of Human Services, or other similar governmental department, which has responsibility for ensuring that children are protected from abuse, neglect, and dangerous or unhealthful living conditions. When these conditions exist, or when a birthparent is no longer able to care for a child or children, Child Protective Services is responsible for making an appropriate foster care arrangement and continued follow-up.
 
CWLA
Child Welfare League of America 
 
caseworker
A social worker who is responsible for working on a particular client's (family or dependent child's) case (affairs, needs, circumstances, problems, plans, and general well-being, and the records kept on these).
 
child abuse clearances
Similar to criminal clearances, this is a method of checking to see if a person has a history of child abuse. This is used as part of the approval process for prospective adoptive parents. In some states there is a central registry where the names of all known child abusers are kept on file. A prospective parent (or employee) must complete a form and submit it to this registry and the registry will send back information indicating that the person is either clear or has a record. These clearances must be updated annually as part of the annual updating of a homestudy.
 
child assessment, child profile
A child assessment or child profile, also called a social summary, is the written document completed by a child's caseworker which provides comprehensive information about the child, including family history; medical, educational, psychological and educational assessments; history of previous placements; and daily routines. Usually completed before an agency begins to recruit families for a child, it should be made available to any family (or family's worker) that the child's agency is seriously considering.
 
closed adoption
A closed adoption is an adoption in which no identifying information about the birthfamily or the adoptive family is shared, and there is no contact between birthparents and adoptive parents. The adoptive family usually receives non-identifying information about the child and the birthfamily before placement. In a closed adoption, after finalization, the records are sealed and typically are not available to the adopted child.
 
concurrent planning
In social work, this term refers to making plans for a child's reunification with the birthfamily, while at the same time recruiting adoptive families as a back-up plan. One way to do this is by placing a child in the home of a foster family or family member who could become the child's adoptive family if the biological parent fails to regain custody. Another is by beginning recruitment for an adoptive family before the child is legally free.
 
confidential information
In adoption, this usually refers to private information about a waiting child or child's birthfamily, which is not shared with the general public and may be only partially shared with the, adoptive family. Confidential information might include the birth parents last names, addresses, names and addresses of siblings, reasons why the child came into placement, information about physical or sexual abuse, birth parents' history of substance abuse, criminal history, reasons child moved from previous foster or adoptive homes, and in-depth information about the child's disabilities.
 
confidentiality
Protection of one's personal identifying information, or other information of a personal nature. Adoption agencies may not disclose identifying information about any client to any other source except in special circumstances as described in licensing regulations (such as when there is a child abuse allegation).
 
consent to adoption
Consent to adoption may refer to a legal document signed by the birth parents to give legal intent to their desire for the adoption of their child, or a document issued by the adoption agency allowing the adoptive family to finalize the adoption after all agency and legal requirements have been met. The consent of the child being adopted may also be needed. 
 
cooperative adoption
An open adoption or cooperative adoption allows for some form of association between the birthfamily, adoptees, and adoptive parents. This can range from picture and letter sharing, to phone calls to contact through an intermediary, and open contact between the parties themselves. Many adoptions of older children and teens are at least partially open, since the children may know identifying or contact information about members of their birthfamilies, or may want to stay in touch with siblings placed separately.
 
counseling
A process through which a person can receive assistance in sorting out issues and reaching decisions appropriate to their life circumstances. Counseling for adoption should be done by trained, experienced, adoption counselors. Birthparent counseling should involve exploration of all options, including parenting the child, kinship adoption, foster care and various types of adoptions, and should be a part of the adoption of any newborn infant.
 
criminal clearances
Similar to child abuse clearances, this is a method of checking through the state police department to determine if a person has a criminal record. The state supplies forms and the clearances must be updated on an annual basis. In adoptions, all adults living in a household must obtain criminal and child abuse clearances prior to a child being placed in that home.
 
custody
The legal responsibility for the care and maintenance of a child. Custody can be awarded by the court to an agency, such as a department of children and youth services, or to an individual. A department of children and youth services may assign this responsibility to another agency (known as a provider agency) while retaining legal custody of a child. Child welfare departments retain legal custody for children who are in foster care or pre-adoptive homes.
 
direct adoption
This term refers to an adoption in which a family is selected for a child and the child is placed by an agency, as opposed to an identified adoption, in which the family identifies a child and then seeks assistance in arranging the adoption.
 
disclosure
The release of previously confidential or unshared information. "Full disclosure" often refers to a social worker's sharing all known non-identifying information about a child. Information disclosed should be as complete, realistic, and accurate as possible. Disclosure may also mean revealing to a child that a particular family wants to adopt that child.
 
disruption
Sometimes called failed placement, disruption occurs when a child leaves the adoptive home prior to the finalization of the adoption. This can occur in three situations: (1) In a legal risk adoption, usually involving a newborn infant, the birth parents revoke their consent to the adoption, during the time period when this is still possible; (2) The adoptive parents choose not to continue with their plan to parent the child for reasons of their own; or (3) The agency disrupts the adoption if the adoptive parents are not complying with post-placement requirements or are endangering the child in some way.
 
dissolution
Similar to disruption, a dissolution is sometimes called a failed adoption. In a dissolution a child leaves the adoptive home after the adoption has been finalized. Once it has been finalized, birthparents cannot dissolve an adoption, but adoptive parents or the courts can.
 
domestic adoption
An adoption within the same country in which the adoptive parents reside; the adoption of a U.S. child by a family residing in the United States.
 
dual licensing
Some agencies are authorized to approve a family for both foster parenting and adoption. When an agency provides dual licensing, foster parents and adoptive parents go through the same homestudy training and background check processes, and in the end receive approval to provide foster and/or adoptive care.
 
exchange
An adoption exchange is an organization that assists in matching children in need of homes with parents wishing to adopt. As a rule, exchanges do not approve families for adoption, have children in their custody, or place children. However, they work closely with agencies that do these things, and perform other support and resource services, such as maintaining web sites featuring photolistings of waiting children. Families may register themselves or have their worker register them with one or more exchanges. Many exchanges are run by state governments, while others are run by non-profit organizations.
 
extended family
Extended family refers to relatives other than parents and siblings. 
 
FBI clearances
Similar to criminal clearances, this is a method of checking through the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if a person has a criminal record. In addition to completing an information form, the person must be fingerprinted. There is a fee for FBI clearances, and they must be updated annually. They are not required in every state.
 
failed adoption
Similar to disruption, a dissolution is sometimes called a failed adoption. In a dissolution, a child leaves the adoptive home after the adoption has been finalized. Once it has been finalized, birthparents cannot dissolve an adoption, but adoptive parents or the courts can.
 
failed placement
Sometimes called failed placement, disruption occurs when a child leaves the adoptive home prior to the finalization of the adoption. This can occur in three situations: (1) In a legal risk adoption, usually involving a newborn infant, the birthparents revoke their consent to the adoption, during the time period when this is still possible; (2) The adoptive parents choose not to continue with their plan to parent the child for reasons of their own; or (3) The agency disrupts the adoption if the adoptive parents are not complying with post-placement requirements or are endangering the child in some way.
 
family
Family may refer to any two or more individuals committed to one another by law, blood, social custom, or love. In considering prospective adoptive parents, a single man or woman is also recognized as a family.
 
family preparation class
A family preparation class or parenting preparation class is a class taken by prospective adoptive parents, usually as part of the homestudy process. Many states and/or agencies require a particular kind of training. Foster Family to Forever Family, is an online, parent-preparation class available through the National Adoption Center.
 
fees
Charges made by an adoption agency to prospective adoptive parents. Some agencies use a sliding scale, according to a family's ability to pay; most allow fees to be paid in installments. While private agencies usually charge fees for infant and international adoptions, few, if any fees are charged by public agencies for adopting waiting U.S. children and teens.
 
finalization
The legal process which transfers custody of a child from the adoption agency to the adoptive parents. In a court hearing, an attorney represents the family and presents the case to the judge, resulting in the adoption decree. This is the moment when the adoptee becomes the permanent, legally adopted child of the adoptive parents. This process cannot occur until the adoptive parents have had the child in their home for the time determined by state statute (usually at least 6 months).
 
financial assistance
Many waiting children are entitled to state or federal adoption assistance payments, also called financial assistance or subsidy. These payments are based on a child's needs or eligibility and not on the family's income. They provide a check for the child each month until the child reaches age 19 (sometimes age 21). Adoptive families may also be eligible for other resources to financing an adoption.
 
FMLA
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), signed into law in 1993, provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, for certain family and medical reasons, including the placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care. Employers covered by the law include federal, state and local public agencies, schools, and workplaces with 50 or more employees. Eligible employees must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months. The law also requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor website to view the FMLA compliance guide online.
 
foster adoption, fost-adopt
A form of adoption in which a child is placed into a home as a foster child, with the expectation that the child will become legally free for adoption and be adopted by the foster parents.
 
foster care
A temporary arrangement in which other adults provide for the care of a child or children whose birthparent is unable to care for them. This can be informal or arranged through the courts or a social service agency. The goal for a child in foster care is usually reunification with the birthfamily, but may be changed to adoption. While foster care is temporary, adoption is permanent.
 
foster child
A child being cared for by foster parents.
 
foster parent
A person who provides foster care for a child. When this is a formal arrangement through a child welfare agency, the foster parent must be approved through a screening, training, and licensing process.
 
goal, goal change
Each child in foster care is assigned a goal which may be reunification with the birthfamily, adoption, long-term foster care, or independent living. A court hearing is required for a goal to be changed. Usually a child must have a goal of adoption before adoptive families are considered.
 
group home
A home like setting staffed by trained personnel where a group of children, adolescents or young adults live. Group homes may provide temporary shelter or a long-term living arrangement, and may be staffed by one set of houseparents or a rotating staff. In some areas, children may move from foster care to pre-adoptive group homes to prepare for being adopted. Group homes are also typically used for adolescents who may be close to ageing out of foster care, and for adults who may need assistance with daily living skills.
 
guardian, guardianship
A guardian is a person who fulfills some of the responsibilities of a legal parent while the courts or birthparents may continue to hold other legal responsibilities for the child. Guardianship is subject to ongoing supervision by the court and ends by court order or when the child reaches the age of majority. Guardianship may be used as an alternative to adoption in some kinship care situations in which a child's relative is assuming a parental role but prefers not to adopt. In some states, such guardians are entitled to the same benefits as foster or adoptive parents.
 
guardian ad litem
A person, often an attorney, appointed by the court to represent the interests of a child in a particular court case.
 
high risk
High risk is a term used to describe a potential adoption from fostercare in which the child to be adopted is placed with the adoptive parents prior to termination of the birthparents' rights. An adoption placement of a child of any age is considered to be high risk if there is a strong likelihood that a birthparent or other relative will decide (and be approved) to parent. The adoption of newborn infants is often considered high risk because one or both birthparents'consent to the adoption is not yet legally final.
 
An adoption is considered low risk when the rights have not yet been terminated, but it is expected that they soon will be, and there is little likelihood of the child returning to his or her birthfamily.
 
hold, on hold
Hold or on hold means temporarily not available for adoption. A child may be placed on hold because an adoption is pending, because a goal change is pending, because a birth relative is interested to adopt, or because the child is currently not ready for adoption.
 
homefinder
Title used in some jurisdictions for an adoption social worker who completes family homestudies and serves as the family's advocate in the adoption process.
 
homestudy
The process of assessing and preparing a family for adoption. It is used to determine the family's suitability to adopt and the type of child whose needs would be best met by that family. The homestudy includes written materials, individual or group meetings with a social worker, and education about adoption and parenting issues. 
 
Homestudy also refers to the written document, completed by a licensed agency, which is the end result of this process. Sometimes called a family profile or an adoption study, it gives a summary of the applicant's family life. This document indicates approval of the applicant for adoption and clarifies what type of child the applicant is approved to adopt. It must be updated annually. Most agencies require different homestudies for foster care and adoption.
 
houseparent
An employee in a group home or other facility for children or teenagers whose job involves serving in a parental role. Often, houseparents reside at the facility.
 
ICAMA
The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA) was established as a mechanism to provide that children moving across state lines have continuity of adoption assistance agreements, medical provisions, and other post-adoption services. Three quarters of all states are members of this program. There is a contact person for each of these states. For more information, visit the website of the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance at http://aaicama.aphsa.org
 
ICPC
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is an agreement by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to provide a process to move children across state lines for the purpose of adoption, foster care or residential care, while protecting their safety and well-being. Every state has signed the ICPC and made it law. The compact guarantees that each state's adoption laws and procedures are met and that the child's placement is properly managed and finalized. For more information about the ICPC, visit at http://icpc.aphsa.org
 
ICPC 100A Form
ICPC Form 100A is the Interstate Compact Placement Request. In an interstate adoption, this form must be completed by the child's agency to comply with requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
 
ICPC 100B Form
ICPC form 100B is the Interstate Compact Report on Child's Placement Status. In an interstate adoption, this form must be completed by the family's agency to comply with requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
 
ICWA
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law passed in 1978 that protects the rights of Native American children, families, and tribes. In accordance with this act, when placing a Native American child for adoption, preference must be given to an extended family member, a member of the tribe, or an adoptive family of Native American heritage. The tribe has the right to make decisions regarding a child's placement, which may include placing a child with non-Native Americans if there is no other resource. For more information visit the website of The National Indian Child Welfare Association at www.nicwa.org. 
 
IEP
Individualized Educational Plan. This is a plan outlining specific individualized educational support services and expected outcomes for a student enrolled in a special education program. 
 
identified adoption
An identified adoption may also be called a parent initiated adoption. In this type of adoption, the adoptive parents and birthparents identify, find, or already know each other, and then use the services of an adoption agency or an independent adoption social worker or other facilitator, to arrange and finalize the adoption.
 
identifying information
Information which discloses an individual's identity, such as last name, address, social security number, or detailed family history. When families are recruited for a child in need of adoption, identifying information about the child is typically kept private. In a closed adoption, no identifying information about either set of parents is shared with the other. 
 
independent adoption
Independent adoptions, also known as private adoptions, are arranged through an intermediary such as a lawyer, physician, or other facilitator, rather than through a licensed adoption agency. Usually independent adoptions involve infants who are healthy or believed to be healthy. They often do not include counseling for the birthparents or parent preparation for the adoptive parents, and are not legal in all states. Children adopted through independent adoptions are not usually eligible for adoption assistance for special needs that may not have been noticeable at birth. Independent adoptions can be open adoptions, but this is not always the case. Private adoptions should not be confused with private agency adoptions.
 
Intent to Adopt Petition
An adoption petition or intent to adopt petition is a brief document which gives identifying information about the adoptive parents and the child to be adopted. This, together with the adoptive parents' homestudy, is filed with the court to initiate adoption proceedings.
 
intercountry adoption, international adoption
An international adoption or intercountry adoption is any adoption in which the child and the adoptive parents reside in two different countries. Extra legal work through immigration services must be done to authorize an international adoption.
 
interjurisdictional adoption
Jurisdictions are specific areas such as states or counties which may have adoption laws or policies that are particular to that area. An interjurisdictional adoption is one in which the child to be adopted and the adoptive parent live in different jurisdictions, such as different counties or states.
 
interracial
The term interracial refers to a couple, family, or other group which includes individuals who are members of different races. This differs from the term biracial, which refers to an individual whose racial heritage includes two different races.
 
interstate adoption
An interstate adoption is the adoption of a child who is a resident of one state by individuals who are residents of another state.
 
interstate compact
Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) A set of laws governing the movement of a child born in one state but being adopted by a family in another. For the purposes of an adoption, it is illegal to move a child across state lines without meeting the requirements of the ICPC. The documentation submitted to the ICPC for approval includes the adoptive parents home study, the child's birth information and other health information, biological information on the birth parents, and relinquishment or termination documentation from the birth parents. The ICPC offices review the documentations to verify that their state laws have been complied with. The ICPC also ensures that proper post-placement supervision has been arranged in the family�s home state. 
 
involuntary termination of parental rights
A legal procedure through which the legal rights of birthparents to parent a child are terminated by the court without the signed consents of the birthparents. Circumstances for such proceedings include abandonment and repeated or severe abuse or neglect of the child.
 
joint adoption
When two unmarried domestic partners adopt a child together at the same time, it is referred to as a joint adoption. While only a few jurisdictions permit joint adoptions, laws are changing in many parts of the country. 
 
jurisdiction
A specific area, such as a state or county, which may have authority over children in its care and may have adoption laws and policies that are particular to that area.
 
kinship adoption
A kinship or relative adoption is one in which the adoptive parents are relatives who are biologically related to the child to be adopted, such as a grandparent, aunt, or cousin. In kinship adoption, as opposed to kinship care, the relatives legally adopt the child.
 
kinship care
A relative placement or kinship care occurs when a child is placed in the care of birthfamily members, members of their tribes or clans, godparents, stepparents, or other adults who have a kinship bond with the child. This may be an informal agreement among the parties, a formal foster care placement made with the assistance of a public agency, or a pre-adoptive placement. The relatives may be awarded custody or legal guardianship by the court. When an agency is involved in a formal foster care placement, the relative may be entitled to the same benefits and supports as other foster care parents.
 
legal guardianship
A guardian is a person who fulfills some of the responsibilities of a legal parent while the courts or birth parents may continue to hold other legal responsibilities for the child. Guardianship is subject to ongoing supervision by the court and ends by court order or when the child reaches the age of majority. Guardianship may be used as an alternative to adoption in some kinship care situations in which a child's relative is assuming a parental role but prefers not to adopt. In some states, such guardians are entitled to the same benefits as foster or adoptive parents.
 
legal risk adoption
Legal risk is a term used to describe a potential adoption in which the child to be adopted is placed with the adoptive parents prior to termination of the birthparents' rights. 
 
An adoption placement of a child of any age is considered to be high risk if there is a strong likelihood that a birthparent or other relative will decide (and be approved) to parent. The adoption of newborn infants is often considered high risk because one or both birthparents is not yet legally final.
 
An adoption is considered low risk when the birthparents rights have not yet been terminated, but it is expected that they soon will be, and there is little likelihood of the child returning to his or her birthfamily.
 
legally free
A child is legally free for adoption when that child's birthparents' parental rights have been terminated in a court of law.
 
life book, life story book
A journal or scrapbook which provides a chronicle of a child's life story and personal history. A social worker, therapist, foster parent or adoptive parent can help a child to make a life book. It can then serve as a therapeutic tool to help facilitate the child's identity formation and understanding of adoption, and also provides a way to share parts of the child's life not spent with the current parents. 
 
long term foster care
Long term foster care, also called permanent foster care, is the intentional placing of a child in foster care for an extended, and often indefinite, period of time. Long term foster care may be assigned as a goal for a child when workers believe there are no possibilities for reunification with any members of the birth family, or adoption. It is also sometimes used as a plan for teenagers who believe they do not want a permanent family and are refusing a goal of adoption.
 
low risk
Legal risk is a term used to describe a potential adoption in which the child to be adopted is placed with the adoptive parents prior to termination of the birthparents' rights.
 
An adoption is considered low risk when the rights have not yet been terminated, but it is expected that they soon will be, and there is little likelihood of the child returning to birthfamily. 
 
An adoption placement of a child of any age is considered to be high risk if there is a strong likelihood that a birthparent or other relative will decide (and be approved) to parent. The adoption of newborn infants is often considered high risk because one or both birthparents is not yet legally final. In a situation where the birthparent is voluntarily relinquishing a child, the time period during which a birthparent can revoke consent (change his/her mind) and the adoption is at risk varies by state.
 
MAPP, MAPP training
Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting is a training curriculum developed by the Child Welfare Institute involving a series of classes required by many jurisdictions for those preparing to be foster or adoptive parents.
 
MEPA
A federal law, the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994, prohibits the denial or delay of a child's placement in a home due to the child's or adoptive family's race, color, or national origin.
 
The law states that any person or government involved in adoption or foster care placements may not "deny to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive or foster parent, on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the person or the child involved." The law also states that any person or government involved in adoption or foster care placements may not "delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption or into foster care, on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent, or the child involved." In addition, the law requires child welfare service agencies to "provide for the diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families that reflects the ethnic and racial diversity of children in the state for whom foster and adoptive homes are needed." 
 
The Multiethnic Placement Act was amended in 1996 by the addition of the Interethnic Adoption Provisions. Neither piece of legislation has any effect on the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
 
mainstreaming
Including children with special needs in a regular classroom situation rather than isolating them in special classes or schools. A child may be mainstreamed for part of the day, or for some subjects and not others. 
 
match, matching
In adoption, matching is the process of finding prospective families for a child. A match may refer to a family that a child's worker has selected or is strongly considering, but it also may refer to a family that the family's worker or adoption exchange worker is merely suggesting to the child's worker. 
 
medical assistance, medical assistance card, medical card
Children who have been in the care of an adoption agency are often eligible to receive Medicaid cards, which provide for the child's health care, free of charge, as part of an adoption assistance program. This coverage is usually provided until the child is 18, 19 years old.
 
multicultural
Relating to, reflecting, or adapted to diverse cultures. Multicultural may be used to describe a child's heritage, a family's composition, or other things, such as a school's curriculum. 
 
multiracial
Composed of, involving, or representing various races. This term can be applied to groups, such as a multiracial family, or individuals, or a child with a multiracial heritage.
 
NAATRIN
National Adoption Assistance Training Resource and Information Network.
 
NAC
National Adoption Center
 
NACAC
North American Council on Adoptable Children 
 
NAIC
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
 
No Claim to Paternity Document
A document the agency (or attorney) processing an adoption will obtain from the Child Support Enforcement Bureau that discloses if any person has filed a claim to be the father of a particular child.
 
non-recurring expense
Adoptive parents of children with special needs are eligible for a one-time payment of non-recurring adoption expenses, one form of assistance in financing an adoption. The amount varies by state, and can be used to cover adoption fees such as homestudy fees, court costs, and attorney fees.
 
OCD
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
 
ODD
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
 
older child
In today's adoption world, an older child usually refers to a school-aged child or teenager.
 
on hold
Hold or on hold means temporarily not available for adoption. A child may be placed on hold because an adoption is pending, because a goal change is pending, because a birth relative is interested, or because the child is currently not ready for adoption.
 
open adoption
An open adoption or cooperative adoption allows for some form of association between the birthfamily, adoptees, and adoptive parents. This can range from picture and letter sharing, to phone calls, contact through an intermediary, or open contact between the parties themselves. Many adoptions of older children and teens are at least partially open, since the children may know identifying or contact information about members of their birthfamilies, or may want to stay in touch with siblings placed separately.
open adoption agreement
 
An open adoption agreement spells out the terms of the contact between the parties in an open adoption. An open adoption agreement can specify frequency and manner of contact between adoptive and birthfamilies, and/or between siblings placed separately. However, while it may be drawn up in the form of a contract and signed by both parties, it is not legally binding.
 
open records
Open records refers to information contained in vital statistics records, such as an original birth certificate and adoption files, which is made available to the adoptee, adoptive parents, or others. Open records may also refer to the policy of allowing such persons access to records, upheld as the right of an adoptee in some states and jurisdictions.
 
orphan's court
In some jurisdictions, the court in which adoptions are finalized. An orphan's court handles estates and trusts of minors and other incapacitated persons.
 
PDD
Pervasive Developmental Delay
 
PRIDE
Parent's Resource for Information, Development and Education. A training program for foster and adoptive parenting developed by Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois. It is required in some states.
 
PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
 
parenting preparation class
A family preparation or parenting preparation class is a course taken by prospective adoptive parents, usually as part of the homestudy process. Many states and/or agencies require a particular kind of training. The Foster Family to Forever Family, an online parent preparation class.
 
parental rights
The legal right to parent a particular child. 
 
parent-initiated adoption
An identified adoption may also be called a parent-initiated adoption. In this type of adoption, the adoptive parents and birthparents identify, find, or already know each other, and then use the services of an adoption agency or an independent adoption social worker or other facilitator, to arrange and finalize the adoption.
 
permanency, permanency planning
Permanence, or permanency, is an arrangement for the care and parenting of a child that is expected to be lasting and to eliminate the need for further moves. Adoption, reunification with a birth relative, and legal guardianship are all permanency options. Permanency planning is the process through which planned and systematic efforts are made to assure that a child is in safe and nurturing family relationships expected to last a lifetime.
 
permanent foster care
Long term foster care, also called permanent foster care, is the intentional placing of a child in foster care for an extended, and often indefinite period of time. Long term foster care may be assigned as a goal for a child when workers believe there are no possibilities for reunification with any members of the birth family, or for adoption. It is also sometimes used as a plan for teenagers who believe they do not want a permanent family and are refusing a goal of adoption.
 
photolisting
A published listing, either online or in print, containing a photo and description of a child or sibling group that is available for adoption, used by agencies to recruit prospective adoptive parents. Photolistings are in book form at adoption agencies and libraries and, increasingly, online. Most states have photolisting services online.
 
placement
The move of a waiting child, teen or sibling group into the home of the family who plans to adopt them.
 
post-adoption services, post-legal adoption services
Services (such as counseling or respite care) provided by an agency or community organization to the adopted person, the adoptive parents, and/or the birthparents after placement or after an adoption has been legally finalized. 
 
post-placement
The period after a child has been placed in an adoptive home. Usually post-placement refers to the period before legal finalization. 
 
post-placement supervision
The process of providing support and supervision to the adoptive family between the time of placement and finalization. Post-placement supervision is required and usually includes a specified number of visits to the family's home and/or a specified period of time.
 
pre-adoptive home, pre-adoptive placement
A home in which a child is placed with a family, usually homestudied, with the understanding that the family plans to adopt the child.
 
presentation
The term presentation is used by some agencies to refer to a meeting during which staff from the child's agency meet with a family who has been selected for a child in order to present comprehensive information about the child. This includes the child's family background, developmental history, personality, special interests, interpretation of medical and psychological findings, any problems experienced in foster homes or school, legal status, and eligibility for adoption subsidy.
 
pre-service training (PRIDE, MAPP, etc.)
Required training for foster or adoptive families prior to their being approved to care for children. Popular curriculums for pre-service training include PRIDE MAPP, and the Adoption RoadMap (http://www.adopt.org/assembled/road_map.html) training available online.
 
private adoption
Independent adoptions, also known as private adoptions, are arranged through an intermediary such as a lawyer, physician, or other facilitator, rather than through a licensed adoption agency. Usually independent adoptions involve infants who are healthy or believed to be healthy. They often do not include counseling for the birthparents or parent preparation for the adoptive parents, and are not legal in all states. Children adopted through independent adoptions are not usually eligible for adoption assistance for special needs that may not have been noticeable at birth. Independent adoptions can be open adoptions, but this is not always the case. Private adoptions should not be confused with private agency adoptions.
 
private agency
A non-profit or for-profit agency licensed by the state but not government sponsored, and dependent on fees and donations rather than tax dollars to operate. Some private adoption agencies place infants or children from other countries; some work with (and are paid by) public agencies to place children who are in foster care. Some provide services to birthfamilies; others provide services only to adoptive families. 
 
private providers
Private adoption agencies who work in conjunction with or as subcontractors to public agencies to provide services to children, such as foster care supervision or adoption recruitment, while the public agency retains custody. In this situation, a child may have one social worker through the provider agency, who is in contact with prospective families, and another through the public agency, who makes final decisions on placement.
 
prospective adoptive family
A family interested in adopting a child or children.
 
provider agency
Private adoption agencies who work in conjunction with or as subcontractors to public agencies to provide services to children, such as foster care supervision or adoption recruitment, while the public agency retains custody. In this situation, a child may have one social worker through the provider agency, who is in contact with prospective families, and another through the public agency, who makes final decisions on placement.
 
public agency
State and county adoption agencies that are responsible for placing waiting children who are in their care with adoptive families. Public agencies may be known as the Department of Social Services, Division of Human Services; Children, Youth and Family Services; or by other names. The public agency is generally responsible for most older child adoptions and for handling cases where children have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their birthparents.
 
public system
The public welfare system or foster care system. These are known by various names in different states, such as the Department of Human Services, the Department of Social Services, Division of Children, Youth and Families, or Department of Protective and Regulatory Services.
 
purchase-of-service
In an interstate adoption or other adoption where more than one agency is involved, an agreement between the family's agency and the child's agency, in which the child's agency agrees to pay a fee to the family's agency for providing services, usually including a homestudy and post-placement supervisory visits and reports. Other services and expenses which may be negotiated into the purchase-of-service agreement include pre-placement travel, videoconferences, and legal costs associated with finalizing the adoption. When purchase-of-service fees are not available, the adoptive family may be expected to pay for these services.
 
RAD
Reactive Attachment Disorder
 
receiving agency
In an interstate adoption, the agency that works with the family, making sure the family has a completed homestudy, commenting on the suitability of the proposed match, and providing post-placement supervision.
 
reciprocal service agreements
In reciprocal service agreements, two states or jurisdictions agree to provide certain services for one another without charge. These agreements are often used by adjoining states or jurisdictions.
 
recruiter
An adoption worker whose job involves seeking and recruiting families to adopt waiting children. In some jurisdictions, children are assigned a recruiter in addition to their caseworker. A recruiter's job may also include retaining families by providing support to increase their possibilities of completing the adoption process.
 
recruitment
Activities for the purpose of encouraging families to adopt waiting children. Recruitment efforts may be general, such as an advertisement on television about the need for adoptive families, or child-specific, such as a waiting child feature in a newspaper. Recruitment may involve all forms of the media, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, photolisting books or pamphlets, videotapes and websites. But is also done by networking among social workers and using community resources.
 
referral
A service performed when an individual or family is sent or directed from one organization to another that is better suited for working with them. Adoption exchanges often refer families to agencies that can complete their homestudies, and may perform other referrals as well, such as referring birthmothers to pregnancy counseling services. In adoption, a referral may also be a match referral (suggestion), made by an exchange or other intermediary between child workers and families who may be appropriate matches for the children.
 
registry
A service through which any adult member of the adoption triad who wishes to learn about birth relatives may register personal data and request to be notified should the other parties in that adoption also register. Some states have state- run registries; there are also privately-sponsored registries such as the International Soundex Reunion Registry.
 
relative adoption
A kinship or relative adoption is one in which the adoptive parents are biologically related to the child to be adopted, such as a grandparent, aunt, or cousin. In kinship adoption, as opposed to kinship care , the relatives legally adopt the child.
 
relative placement
A relative placement or kinship care occurs when a child is placed in the care of birthfamily members, members of their tribes or clans, godparents, stepparents, or other adults who have a kinship bond with the child. This may be an informal agreement among the parties, a formal foster care placement made with the assistance of a public agency, or a pre-adoptive placement. The relatives may be awarded custody or legal guardianship by the court. When an agency is involved in a formal foster care placement, the relative may be entitled to the same benefits and supports as other foster care parents.
 
relinquishment
The voluntary surrender or termination of custodial and legal rights to a child by a birthparent. This is a legally binding, permanent procedure which involves the signing of legal documents and court action.
 
resource room
A classroom or designated area in which a child may receive special education or related services from a certified special education teacher trained to give specific support to students with disabilities in the appropriate subject and skill areas.
residential care facility, residential treatment facility
A facility which provides 24 hour care for severely troubled children, and therapeutic intervention to help them overcome behavioral, emotional, mental or psychological problems that prevent them from being able to function in the family, in school, and with peers.
 
respite, respite care
Temporary care provided for a child in order to give the child's foster or adoptive parents time off or a rest from parenting. 
 
reunification
Reunification occurs when a child who has been in foster care returns to his or her birth family. Reunification is the goal for many children in foster care.
 
reunion
A meeting of a birthparent and an adoptee who become re-acquainted with one another after having had no contact due to a closed (traditional) adoption.
 
reunion registry
A service through which any adult member of the adoption triad who wishes to learn about birth relatives may register personal data and request to be notified should the other parties in that adoption also register. Some states have state run registries; there are also privately-sponsored registries such as the International Soundex Reunion Registry.
 
revocation of consent
A withdrawal of consent to adoption which a birthparent had previously agreed to and signed, and a request by the birthparent that the child be returned to his/her custody. There is a limited period of time during which a birthparent may do this, which varies from state to state.
 
risk
Legal risk is a term used to describe a potential adoption in which the child to be adopted is placed with the adoptive parents prior to termination of the birthparents' rights. 
 
An adoption placement of a child of any age is considered to be high risk if there is a strong likelihood that a birthparent or other relative will decide (and be approved) to parent. The adoption of newborn infants is often considered high risk because one or both birthparents' consent to the adoption is not yet legally final. In a situation where the birthparent is voluntarily relinquishing a child, the length of the period during which a birthparent can revoke consent (Change his/her mind) and the adoption is at risk varies by state.
 
An adoption is considered low risk when the rights have not yet been terminated, but it is expected that they soon will be, and there is little likelihood of the child returning to birthfamily.
 
SACWIS
Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System. SACWIS refers to the system used by states to report child welfare information to the federal government.
 
SSI, SSI benefits
Supplemental Security Income is a program through the Social Security Administration that provides monthly cash benefits and, in most states, Medicaid eligibility to persons, including children, with specific, defined, handicapping conditions. Children eligible for SSI must be significantly disabled.
 
sealed records
In a traditional adoption, sealed records are the birth certificate and other confidential information to which the adoptee is denied access. Sealed records are required under some state laws. In others, records may be sealed until the adoptee reaches the age of majority.
 
search
In adoption, search may refer to (1) a process used by the agency to locate a missing birthparent in order to notify him/her of rights and responsibilities in regard to a child, (2) a process whereby a birthparent or adoptee seeks information and/or contact with a family member from whom they were separated through adoption proceedings, or (3) the process used by a family and/or the family's worker or agency to attempt to locate a child for the family.
For search and reunion see our chart Adoption Search and Reunion (http://www.adopt.org/assembled/reunion.html
 
second-parent adoption
The adoption of a child by the unmarried parent's domestic partner. Second-parent adoptions are similar to stepparent adoptions, but are not permitted in every jurisdiction.
 
self-contained classroom
A separate classroom where students with severe problems can receive special education instruction from one teacher for the majority of the school day. 
 
sending agency
In an interstate adoption, the agency that has custody of the child until finalization, and makes placement decisions for him or her. 
 
service subsidy
An adoption assistance agreement, prepared during the pre-placement period, may include other forms of assistance in addition to a monthly financial payment, such as respite care, medical equipment, or physical therapy.
 
siblings, sibling group
Brothers and/or sisters, children of the same parent. Many adoption professionals believe that, whenever possible, siblings should be placed together or remain in contact.
 
sibling group adoption
The adoption of two or more siblings or half-siblings by the same family at the same time.
 
sliding scale
A scale or table used to determine fees charged for services which allows the fee to be based on the client's ability to pay.
 
social security, social security benefits, social services benefits
The terms social security benefits or social services benefits may refer to any of a range of services, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Social Security Survivors Benefits, Medicaid, and Food Stamps.
 
social summary
A child assessment or child profile, also called a social summary, is the written document completed by a child's caseworker which provides comprehensive information about the child, including family history; medical, educational, psychological and educational assessments; history of previous placements; and daily routines. Usually completed before an agency begins to recruit families for a child, it should be made available to any family (or family's worker) that the child's agency is seriously considering.
 
special education
Special education refers to educational programs which are adapted to meet the educational requirements of children with various kinds of special educational needs and learning differences. Special education may involve self-contained classrooms, the use of a resource room, or mainstreaming. A child may be accommodated by a number of possible interventions, such as smaller class sizes, the use of behavioral management techniques in the classroom, the use of computers or other audiovisual equipment, or individually tailored assignments.
 
special needs
In the context of adoption, under federal guidelines, children with special needs are children who have a condition or history making it difficult to place them without adoption assistance, and who cannot or should not be returned to their birthfamilies. Special needs may refer to a child with specific physical, medical, mental, learning, or emotional disabilities, or may be determined by factors such as age (school-aged children and teens), sibling status, race (in some states), and risk factors such as a family history of mental illness. Guidelines for classifying a child as having special needs vary by state, according to state statute.
 
special needs child
While this term is still used by some, including the Internal Revenue Service, many people in the adoption community feel it is more appropriate to refer to "a child with special needs" or a "waiting child."
special needs adoption
The adoption of a child with special needs. Generally this includes a more extensive training process and often it involves lower or waived fees.
 
state adoption specialist
In each of the 50 states, an individual who is the designated authority on adoption for that state. The state adoption specialist is familiar with the laws of that state, and is a resource for complex adoption questions. For contact information for the state adoption specialist for each state, click on the left State and National Resources.
 
step-parent adoption
The adoption of a child by the parent's new spouse.
 
subsidy
Many waiting children are entitled to state or federal adoption assistance payments, also called financial assistance or subsidy. These payments are based on a child's needs or eligibility and not on the family's income. They provide a check for the child each month until the child reaches age 19 (sometimes age 21).
 
supplemental security income
Supplemental Security Income is a program through the Social Security Administration that provides monthly cash benefits and, in most states, Medicaid eligibility to persons, including children, with specific, defined, handicapping conditions. Children eligible for SSI must be significantly disabled.
 
support group
A group of individuals who share a common concern or experience, who provide support for one another. Many adoptive parents make use of adoptive parent support groups. Parents of children with special needs can find support groups with others whose children share that special need, through organizations or websites that focus on specific disabilities. 
 
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) is a court process which permanently ends all legal parental rights of a birthparent to a child. Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary.
 
TSS worker
Therapeutic Staff Support worker, or Teacher Support Services worker. A mental health worker who provides direct, one-to-one interventions to a child or adolescent at home, school, day care, or other community-based program or community setting, when the child's behavior, without this intervention, would require a more restrictive setting.
 
tax credit
A tax credit is an amount that you subtract from your total tax liability. Federal legislation has provided for tax credits for all adoptive families.
therapeutic foster home
A foster home in which the foster parents have received special training to prepare them to care for a wide variety of children and adolescents, usually those with significant emotional or behavioral problems. Foster parents in a therapeutic foster home continue to receive more supervision and assistance from their agency than other foster parents. 
 
Title IV-E
The Title IV-E section of Public Law 96-272, The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 Title IV-E refers to the Title IV-E section of Public Law 96-272, The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, which provides for adoption assistance payments for eligible children. To qualify for Title IV-E adoption assistance programs, a child must be considered to have special needs by state definition, and must have been eligible, before adoption, for either Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), or for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although AFDC was eliminated in 1996 and replaced by Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), eligibility for Title IV-E is still determined based on the states' AFDC standards as of June 1, 1995.
 
Children who qualify for Title IV-E assistance are automatically eligible for federal Medicaid benefits and the child's state of residence is required to provide them. States may also choose to provide Medicaid coverage for children who do not qualify for the federal program, through state funded Title IV-B programs.
 
Title XX
Title XX of the Social Security Act funds a range of services, including adoption, day care, foster care, child protective services, health related services, and disability services. The funds are used to support state and local programs as well as non-profit programs and services. The act also specifies that states are allowed to use the funds for administration, staff training, and case management directly related to the services funded.
 
Title XX Social Services is a block grant of money from the federal government to state governments. In some states, the money is passed from the state level to the county level, to local governments, or to non-profit service providers. It was once common practice for states to provide direct services to adoptive families from this money, but at present adoptive families, just like any other families, have access to these funds through other state provided services, such as day care or respite care.
 
total care
A child requiring total care is one who needs assistance with all daily routines, including personal hygiene, dressing and undressing, feeding, and mobility. 
 
traditional adoption
A closed adoption, also called a traditional adoption, is an adoption in which no identifying information about the birthfamily or the adoptive family is shared, and there is no contact between birthparents and adoptive parents. The adoptive family usually receives non-identifying information about the child and the birthfamily before placement. In a closed adoption, after finalization, the records are sealed and typically are not available to the adopted child.
 
transportation
In adoption, transportation, or travel refers to arrangements for a prospective adoptive family to meet a child or children they plan to adopt who may live some distance away, through visits. It also refers to the travel needed when the actual placement occurs. When transportation is provided, the child's agency will pay most or all of the travel costs. When it is not, the adoptive family is expected to cover these expenses.
 
transcultural adoption
Adoption of a child or adolescent of one culture by an adoptive family of another culture. For example, a family of Mexican American heritage might adopt a child of Puerto Rican heritage. Most transracial adoptions are also transcultural.
 
transracial adoption
Adoption of a child or adolescent of one race by an adoptive family of a different race. 
 
travel
In adoption, transportation, or travel refers to arrangements for a prospective adoptive family to meet a child or children they plan to adopt who may live some distance away, through visits. It also refers to the travel needed when the actual placement occurs. When transportation is provided, the child's agency will pay most or all of the travel costs. When it is not, the adoptive family is expected to cover these expenses.
 
triad
The three major people in an adoption: birthparent, adoptive parent, and adopted child or adult. The term "adoption triad" has generally replaced the less positive "adoption triangle." "Adoption circle" may also be used.
 
update (for homestudy)
An addendum, also called an update, is a brief addition made to a homestudy to bring its contents up-to-date, and keep the homestudy current and usable.
 
videoconference
A conference held among people at remote locations by means of transmitted audio and video signals. Participants in a videoconference can see each other's images on a screen and speak with one another. In adoption, videoconferences may be used for visits between children and prospective adoptive parents who live in another state, for sibling contact, for matching events involving children and families, and for training and education. 
 
visitation
Supervised visiting between a child, usually one who is in a foster care placement, and a family. The family may be members of the birth family, such as the birthmother or siblings, or an adoptive family.
 
voluntary termination of parental rights
The birthparents of a child voluntarily (of their own desire and choice) make an adoption plan for a child and relinquish their legal rights to the child. Whether termination of parental rights is voluntary or not, it must be done by a court of law. 
 
waiting children
A child who is in the legal care and custory of the Department of Human Services or similar organization of the state in which he or she resides. Many people in the adoption community prefer phrases such as "legally free for adoption" to describe this situation.
 
ward of the state
This term is used to describe children who are in foster care and are legally free for adoption, but for whom no adoptive parents have been located or identified. Most frequently these children are school-aged, part of a sibling group, children of color, or have special physical, emotional, educational or developmental challenges. "Waiting children" is a more inclusive term than "children with special needs." 
 
wrap-around services
Wrap-around services are intensive, community-based mental health services that are provided to children with severe and multiple problems, in order to prevent the need for more restrictive care. Most often used for children with a serious emotional disturbance or mental illness, they
may include treatment services as well as personal support services, individualized to address the specific needs of children and their families, and provided by multiple agencies.
 
wrongful adoption
In a wrongful adoption case, an adoptive parent takes legal action against an adoption agency, seeking a monetary award, based on the claim that the agency failed to disclose or misrepresented information about the child's or birth family's health or background at the time the child was placed with the adoptive parent.