A-Z Glossary

Many adoption, foster care and child welfare vocabulary are subject to interpretation. This glossary identifies commonly held definitions for terminology that can be found in the field. It defines common acronyms and provides comprehensive definitions for a broad range of terms. The glossary will be updated as new terminology emerges in the field and as new legislation is enacted.

A-Z Glossary – Choose a Letter

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Abandonment
Desertion of a child by a parent or adult primary caregiver with no provisions for continued childcare and without any apparent intention to return to resume care for child.

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).

Accredited Agency
An accredited agency is an adoption service provider who has been accredited by either the Council on Accreditation (COA) to provide adoption services in the United States for cases subject to the regulations set forth by the Hague Adoption Convention. Adoption STAR is a COA Hague Accredited Agency.

Accredited Body
An accredited body is an adoption agency that has been through a process of accreditation including meeting criteria for accreditation imposed by the accrediting country, and can perform certain functions of the Convention in the place of, or in conjunction with, the U.S. Central Authority.

Accrediting Entity
In the field of international adoption this definition is The Council on Accreditation (COA) as it is an organization that have been designated by the U.S. Secretary of State to accredit adoption service providers in the United States for cases subject to the Hague Adoption Convention

Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 was enacted on July 27, 2006. In addition to establishing a national sex offender registry law, the Act made significant changes to sexual abuse, exploitation, and transportation crimes. The Act created new substantive crimes, expanded federal jurisdiction over existing crimes, and increased statutory minimum and/or maximum sentences. The Adam Walsh Act requires states to check child abuse and neglect registries in all states in which any prospective foster or adoptive parent and any other adult living in the home has lived. Adam John Walsh (November 14, 1974 – c. July 27, 1981) was an American boy who was abducted from a department store in Florida on July 27, 1981, and later found murdered and decapitated. Walsh’s death earned national publicity. His story was made into the 1983 television film Adam. Adam’s father, John Walsh, became an advocate for victims of violent crimes and hosted of the television program America’s Most Wanted.

ADD
Acronym for attention deficit disorder. 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

ADHD
Acronym for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 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.

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) that provides 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 specialize in the practice of 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. Facilitators are not legal is many states. Check your state laws before engaging the services of a facilitator.

Adoption Decree
The document issued by the court when an adoption is finalized. The adoption decree states that that the adoptee is the legal child of the adoptive parents.

Adoption Disruption
The interruption of an adoption prior to finalization.

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 at least 20 states.

Adoption Insurance
Insurance that protects against financial loss that can be incurred for example, if 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 or authorized 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 Service Provider (ASP)
Any entity providing adoption services.

Adoption Services
The definition of adoption services within international adoption translates to six major services provided by adoption service providers: (1) Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption; (2) Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption; (3) Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study; (4) Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child; (5) Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or (6) When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. The definition of the term within domestic adoption may include any service provided by a licensed/authorized adoption entity.

Adoption Subsidy
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.

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). Tax Credit (Adoption): A tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from the adoptive parents’ tax liability: IRS Information page.

Adoption Tax Exclusions
IRS provisions in the federal tax code that 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 Taxpayer Identification Number
An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) is an issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a temporary taxpayer identification number for the child in a domestic adoption where the adopting taxpayers do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child’s Social Security Number. The ATIN is to be used by the adopting taxpayers on their Federal Income Tax return to identify the child while final domestic adoption is pending: IRS Information page.

Adoption Triad
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.

Adoptive Parent Profile
It is a presentation, often in the form of a photo-album, a life-book or scrap-book that provides a letter, photos and background information about prospective adoptive parents (individuals/couples that desire to adopt a child.) It is provided to the expectant parents (birth parents) to assist them in selecting adoptive parents for their child. Many of the adoptive parent profiles include a description of the adoptive family, statistical information, such as age, educational and employment background, and talents and hobbies, reasons for adopting, etc.

Adult Adoption
The adoption of a person over the age of majority (as defined in state law).

Agency Adoption
Adoption that is facilitated by a State Authorized or Licensed Agency that provides home studies to prospective adoptive parents, counseling services and post-placement programs for triad members.

Agency Assisted Adoptions
Agency adoptions in which contact between birth and adoptive parents occurs prior to agency involvement. In that sense, the adoption situation has already been ’identified’ and the agency ’assists’ with the placement. According to state statutes, the agency may temporarily assume guardianship of the child (this would be required in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota), or where permitted, the guardianship may be passed directly from the birth family or legal guardian to the adoptive family. Also known as Identified or Designated Adoptions.

Agency Placement
Adoptive placement made by licensed or authorized organization that screens prospective adoptive parents and supervise the placement of children in adoptive homes until the adoption is finalized.

AIDS
AIDS / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease affecting the immune system increasing ones susceptibility for infections such as pneumonia, certain cancers and neurological disorders.

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).

Amended Birth Certificate
Legal document after the adoption is finalized, replacing the original birth certificate, as indicated by the court in the adoption decree with the adoptive parents’ names replacing the birth parents’ names.

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.

Apgar
Apgar score was developed in 1952 by an anesthesiologist named Virginia Apgar, and is now known best for it’s acronym: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration. The Apgar score is typically given to a newborn twice: once at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes after birth. If there are concerns about the baby's condition or the score at 5 minutes is very low, a score may be taken for a third time at 10 minutes after birth. Five factors are used to evaluate the baby's condition and each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score: Appearance (skin coloration) Pulse (heart rate) Grimace response (medically known as "reflex irritability") Activity and muscle tone Respiration (breathing rate and effort) The Apgar is based on a total score of 1 to 10. The higher the score, the better the baby is doing after birth. A score of 7, 8, or 9 is normal and is a sign that the newborn is in good condition. A score of 10 is not very common, since almost all newborns lose 1 point for coloring. A score lower than 7 maybe a sign that the newborn needs medical attention. The lower the score, the more help the baby may need to adjust to being outside the womb. Most of the time a lower Apgar score is caused a difficult birth or c-section or fluid in the baby's airway. Newborns with low Apgar scores may receive oxygen and aspiration to clear out the airway to assist with breathing, stimulation to get the heart beating at a healthier rate. It is important to know that a low Apgar score does not mean a child will have serious or long-term health problems, though it can be a warning sign. The Apgar score is also not designed to predict the future health of the child.

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.

Approved Person
Within international adoption, this term could mean an approved person such as a lawyer or retired judge, is an individual that has been approved by an accrediting entity to provide adoption services in the United States for cases subject to the Hague Adoption Convention.

Artificial Insemination
Impregnation of a woman by one of many possible artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs).

ASFA
Acronym for Adoption and Safe Families Act. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) is a federal law that 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.

Assessor
Another name for adoption caseworker, counselor, or social worker.

Assignment and Arrival
Assignment is synonymous with referral and denotes to the acceptance of an adoptive placement. Arrival denotes a child’s relocation in the receiving nation.

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.

Asthma
Asthma is known as an allergic disorder of respiration, which includes bronchospasms and wheezing. Some also feel chest constriction.

ATIN
An ATIN is an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a temporary taxpayer identification number for the child in a domestic adoption where the adopting taxpayers do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child’s Social Security Number. The ATIN is to be used by the adopting taxpayers on their Federal Income Tax return to identify the child while final domestic adoption is pending: IRS Information page.

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.

Authentications
A generic name for getting the proper seals and or certifications from specific authorities for international adoption purposes (Dossier). This could include includes certifications, notaries, and/or apostilles depending on country requirements.

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.

Background Check
There are several kinds of background checks and clearances that may be required. Most states require a state criminal and child abuse clearance for people wishing to adopt usually done by submitting fingerprint cards or getting electronically fingerprinted. In addition, for international adoption, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service (BCIS) conduct their own criminal clearance checks through the FBI. In addition to any state required fingerprinting, adoptive parents will be fingerprinted at the BCIS regional/sub office closest to their home.

BCIS
Acronym for Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its functions were divided into various bureaus of that department. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services deals with those who are processing an international adoption. Because adoptive parents will be bringing a citizen from another country into the US when they adopt, that child is considered an immigrant and therefore subject to all immigration requirements of the BCIS. Adoptive parents will work through your regional BCIS office/sub office at various points in their adoption process: to get initial approval to adopt a child from abroad (I-600a, to include fingerprints, FBI background check). Adoptive parents will deal with the US State Dept. (US Embassy) who acts as BCIS representatives abroad and handles various requirements while they’re in the country. Adoptive parents will again deal with their regional BCIS when they return home and if they want to obtain a certificate of citizenship for their child.

Best Interests of the Child
When used in the adoption world, the term "best interests of the child" is a lawful determination by the law of the State with jurisdiction to decide whether a particular adoption or adoption-related action is in a child's best interests.

Bi-Racial
Refers to a child that has heritage of two races, usually African-American and another race.

Biological Child
The child of parents by birth.

Bipolar Disorder
A category of mental illnesses in which mood and affect are disturbed characterized by irregular cycles of mania and/or depression. During manic periods, the individual may be in a very elevated mood and exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity, wakefulness and distractibility or irritability. In very severe episodes, psychotic symptoms may also be present. Individuals experiencing depressive periods can exhibit sustained symptoms of depressed mood, diminished pleasure or interest in most activities, fatigue, sleep disturbance (either insomnia or hypersomnia), weight loss or weight gain and slowed thinking.

Birth Certificate
Original) Legal document issued at time of birth with the child’s biological history including the identity of one or both biological parents.

Birth Father
Biological father of a child that is adopted or planning to be adopted.

Birth Mother
Biological mother of a child that is adopted or planning to be adopted.

Birth Parent
Biological (or genetic) parent of a child.

Black Market
Illegal buying and selling of children

Boarder Babies
Infants abandoned in hospitals because of the parents’ inability to care for them. These babies are usually born HIV-positive or drug addicted.

Bonding
The process of developing lasting emotional ties with one’s immediate caregivers; seen as the first and primary developmental task of a human being and central to the person’s ability to relate to others throughout life.

Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS)
On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its functions were divided into various bureaus of that department. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services deals with those who are processing an international adoption. Because adoptive parents will be bringing a citizen from another country into the US when they adopt, that child is considered an immigrant and therefore subject to all immigration requirements of the BCIS. Adoptive parents will work through your regional BCIS office/sub office at various points in their adoption process: to get initial approval to adopt a child from abroad (I-600a, to include fingerprints, FBI background check). Adoptive parents will deal with the US State Dept. (US Embassy) who acts as BCIS representatives abroad and handles various requirements while they’re in the country. Adoptive parents will again deal with their regional BCIS when they return home and if they want to obtain a certificate of citizenship for their child.

Cannabis / Cannabinoid
Cannabis or Cannabinoid are various parts of the plant of which Marijuana, Hashish, and other euphorigenic and hallucinogenic drugs are prepared.

Caseworker
The representative who works primarily with a child who is in state’s custody or someone who works directly with birth or adoptive parents. This person facilitates services that are needed by the client such as counseling, court appearances, etc. and advocates for this client. Also can be social worker or assessor.

Central Authority
The designated authority within the sending country that administrates and oversees the adoption process or the Department of State for the U.S.A

Centralized and Decentralized Adoption Administrations
These terms refer to the degree of authority and involvement overseas nations exercise in the administration of intercountry adoptions. Nations that consolidate adoption activities under government ministries are centralized and typically have two characteristics: 1) Only governmental adoption authorities may initiate adoption procedures; 2) All foreign adoption agencies and indigenous child welfare organizations must be accredited by the government and only such accredited entities are permitted to work in adoptions. With decentralization government ministries are considerably less involved in adoption procedures. Local courts and provincial or state authorities become the primary arbiters of adoption proceedings. The characteristics of decentralized administrations are: 1) The initiation of adoption procedures can originate from non-governmental sources; 2) There is no formal process of accrediting either foreign adoption agencies or indigenous child welfare organizations.

Cerebral Palsy
A non-hereditary condition that results from brain damage before, during or after birth. Children with cerebral palsy lack muscle control in one or more parts of their bodies or may experience speech and language difficulties, depending on the area of the brain damaged. Individuals with cerebral palsy can possess very normal mental functions.

Certificate of US Citizenship
In the past, adoptive parents had to apply for naturalization for their foreign-born children and children did not acquire US citizenship until the Immigration and Naturalization Service (BCIS) approved the application. Under current laws your child’s US citizenship status is no longer dependent on BCIS approving a naturalization application. If adoptive parents completed a full and final adoption abroad, their child is automatically a US citizen on the day he/she is admitted to the US as an immigrant. If they complete the adoption/re-adopt your child after their child has been admitted to the US as an immigrant (such as when an escort is used), their child automatically becomes a citizen on the day the full and final adoption is completed in the US. BCIS does not automatically provide adoptive parents with documentation of their child’s citizenship. If the adoptive parents want proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship, they may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from BCIS (INS) and/or a U.S. passport from the Department of State. (They do not need a BCIS Certificate of Citizenship issued by to obtain a US passport for their child.) If the adoptive parents want a Certificate of Citizenship for their child, file BCIS Form N-643, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child, along with the required filing fee and paperwork.

Certification
The approval process (detailed in State laws or regulations) that takes place to ensure, insofar as possible, that adoptive or foster parents are suitable, dependable and responsible. "Certification" of documents involves a seal or apostille required by law or regulation affixed to a public document (such as a birth or marriage certificate or court record) to attest to its authenticity, or to a general document to attest that an authorized official has notarized the document.

Certified
Certified birth certificates are either original or copied documentations of a live birth. These documents are legal documents and provide proof of citizenship, age and parentage. The information obtained on a certified birth certificate can vary across states, but the most pertinent information about the child and the child’s parents are standard. Typically these certified copies have a raised seal to show they are indeed certified.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
The law (P.L. 93-247) that provides a foundation for a national definition of child abuse and neglect. Reauthorized in October 1996 (P.L. 104-235), it was up for reauthorization at the time of publication. CAPTA defines child abuse and neglect as "at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."

Child Protective Services (CPS)
The designated social services agency (in most states) to receive reports, investigate and provide intervention and treatment services to children and families in which child maltreatment has occurred. Frequently, this agency is located within larger public social service agencies, such as Departments of Social Services.

Closed Adoption
The birth family and the adoptive family do not share any identifying information with each other and do not communicate with each other, either before or after the placement of the child. The adoptive family will, however, receive non-identifying health and other background information about the child and the birth family before placement occurs.

Co-Parenting
A long-term (formal or informal) agreement to support the needs of children with developmental disabilities by which extra caregivers support parents by providing ongoing respite parenting when needed. Co-parenting however is not adoption nor is it known as open adoption.

Cocaine
A bitter, crystalline alkaloid, C17 H21 NO4, obtained from coca leaves, used as a local anesthetic and also widely used as an illicit drug for its stimulant and euphorigenic properties.

Complaint Registry
As a source of accountability, the U.S. Secretary of State created the Complaint Registry as a tool to receive, distribute, and monitor complaints relevant to the accreditation or approval status of adoption service providers.

Concurrent planning
Concurrent planning is a practice technique used by social workers that takes place when the worker and the family simultaneously plan for reunification and an alternate permanent placement if reunification is not possible.

Conduct Disorder
A condition characterized by a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior which violates the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules. A child or teen with conduct disorder may: display aggressive conduct (bully or threaten others, initiate fights, use weapons that could cause serious harm, force someone into sexual activity, be physically aggressive or cruel to people or animals); engage in non-aggressive behaviors that result in property loss or damage; engage in deceitfulness or theft (steal, lie or break promises to obtain goods or to avoid debts or obligations); persistently engage in serious violations of rules that lead to confrontations with parents, school suspensions or expulsion; problems in the workplace; or legal difficulties (staying out after dark without permission, running away from home, truancy, etc.) Conduct disorder may lead to the development of antisocial personality disorder during adulthood.

Confidential Adoption
An adoption plan where birth and adoptive parents do not meet, do not share identifying information, and do not keep in contact. This type of adoption can also be known as a closed adoption.

Confidentiality
The legally required process of keeping identifying or other significant information secret; the principle of ethical practice which requires social workers and other professional not to disclose information about a client without the client’s consent.

Consent Form
The legal document signed by the biological mother and father allowing their child to be placed for adoption. A consent is sometimes referred to as a surrender or relinquishment.

Consent to Adopt or Consent to Adoption
Legal permission for the adoption to proceed.

Cooperative Adoption
Adoption in which adopted child has access to both adoptive parents and birth parents that participate in decisions affecting their life. This is also known as an open adoption.

Country of Origin
The country of origin is considered to be the country in which a child is a legal resident and will be emigrating from in conjunction with an adoption case.

Court Appointed Special Advocate
An individual who is a trained community volunteer appointed by a judge to speak for the best interests of a child.

CPS
Acronym for Child Protective Services. The designated social services agency (in most states) to receive reports, investigate and provide intervention and treatment services to children and families in which child maltreatment has occurred. Frequently, this agency is located within larger public social service agencies, such as Departments of Social Services.

Criminal Clearances
Most states require one or more forms of criminal clearance as part of the home study process, which may include: Federal (FBI) criminal history check, state police criminal history check, child abuse clearance, domestic violence or sexual offense checks, and fingerprints. This usually involves completing a form with the prospective adoptive parent’s name, former names, date of birth, and social security number, possibly having the form notarized, and sending it to state child welfare or police agencies, who will check to see if anything is on file and notify the adoptive parents or the agency of the results.

Cultural Competence
A set of attitudes, behaviors and policies that integrates knowledge about groups of people into practices and standards to enhance the quality of services to all cultural groups being served.

Custody
Authority by a person or guardian embodying all of the rights and responsibilities.

Decree of Adoption
A legal order that finalizes an adoption.

Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the U.S. agency responsible for facilitating immigration cases, including those related to intercountry adoption.

Dependent Child
A child who is in the custody of the county or state child welfare system.

Designated Adoption
Agency adoptions in which contact between birth and adoptive parents occurs prior to agency involvement. In that sense, the adoption situation has already been ’identified’ and the agency ’assists’ with the placement. According to state statutes, the agency may temporarily assume guardianship of the child (this would be required in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota), or where permitted, the guardianship may be passed directly from the birth family or legal guardian to the adoptive family. Also known as Identified or Agency Assisted Adoption.

Developmental Delay
A developmental delay is any significant lag in a one’s physical, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, or social development, in comparison with the “typical” development of others of the same cognitive age.

Developmental Disability
Any disabling condition related to delays in maturation of or difficulties with skills or intellect.

DHS - Department of Homeland Security
DHS is the acronym for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. agency responsible for facilitating immigration cases, including those related to intercountry adoption.

Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that is often chronic in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood. This occurs because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.

Differential Response
An area of CPS reform that offers greater flexibility in responding to allegations of abuse and neglect. Also referred to as "dual track" or "multi-track" response, it permits CPS agencies to respond differentially to children’s needs for safety, the degree of risk present, and the family’s needs for services and support. See "Dual Track."

Direct Adoption
When birth parent(s) surrender their child directly to an agency.

Disclosure
The release or transmittal of previously hidden or unknown information.

Dispositional Hearings
Held by the juvenile and family court to determine the disposition of children after cases have been adjudicated, such as whether placement of the child in out-of-home care is necessary and what services the children and family will need to reduce the risk of maltreatment and to address the effects of maltreatment.

Disrupted Adoption
An adoption that fails before or after finalization.

Disruption
An adoption or potential adoption that fails before finalization.

Dissolution
The term dissolution is used to describe an adoption that fails after finalization, resulting in the child’s legal custody reverting back to the agency or court that made the original placement and the child returning to foster care and/or to other adoptive parent(s).

Domestic Adoption
the adoption of a child who is born in the United States.

Dossier
The collection of paperwork used in an international adoption that has been properly authenticated and translated. Requirements vary in each country.

Down Syndrome
A genetic disorder (caused by the presence of an extra chromosome), which results in physical and mental abnormalities. Physical characteristics include a flattened face, widely spaced and slanted eyes, smaller head size and lax joints. Mental retardation is also typical, though there are wide variations in mental ability, behavior, and developmental progress. Possible related health problems include poor resistance to infection, hearing loss, gastrointestinal problems and heart defects.

Drug Affected
Drug Affected is a term that is typically used to describe a child who appears affected by substances that his birth mother used or abused drugs during her pregnancy. A child who is deemed “affected” by such use and/or abuse could be a child born prematurely, of low birth weight, has facial or other dysmorphology or has other social, emotional, physical, cognitive or behavioral challenges. If the affects are not noted at birth or shortly after, but appear later in life, it is a challenge to decipher whether or not the child was affected by the use and abuse of substances or has unrelated special needs. Certainly the risk factor increases when a child is born to a woman who did not have a healthy pregnancy

Dwarfism
There are many types of Dwarfism today including Achondroplasia. Achondroplasia is a developmental anomaly that affects bone growth. The term Little Person rather than Dwarfism is often used today and characterizes extreme shortness of stature. The condition can also be associated with many other defects including varying degrees of developmental delays and mental retardation. The condition is not known to significantly shorten one’s life span but often women experiences miscarriages during a pregnancy involving a child with a form of Dwarfism.

Eating Disorder
An eating disorder is a psychological disorder characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions where the individual is preoccupied with food and weight. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Most people with eating disorders are females, but males can also have eating disorders. An exception is binge-eating disorder, which appears to affect almost as many males as females. Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems and can be life-threatening. Treatments for eating disorders should involve psychotherapy, nutrition education, family counseling, medications, and may require hospitalization.

Emancipation
Emancipation from foster care occurs when young people have "aged out" of out-of-home care and left the foster care system.

Embassy/Consulate
The United States has an Embassy or Consulate in countries where it currently maintains diplomatic relations. An Embassy can fulfill all exit requirements/visas for an adopted child. A Consulate can handle most of the exit requirements and the adoptive family may need to travel to the country’s US Embassy later to complete exit requirements.

Emotional Disturbance
Severe, pervasive or chronic emotional condition that prevents a child from performing everyday tasks. This condition is characterized by an inability to build or maintain relationships, inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances, a pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears related to personal or school problems. Children may require special classrooms and teachers trained to help children with these special needs. School systems may have varying "levels" and processes for educational planning.

Employer Assistance
Adoption benefits provided to employees by employers which may include direct cash assistance for adoption expenses, reimbursement of approved adoption expenses, paid or unpaid leave, (beyond federal leave requirements established through the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993) and resource and referral services. For a list of employers who provide benefits, call the National Adoption Center at (800)-TO-ADOPT.

Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a disorder that results from the surges in electrical signals inside the brain, causing recurring seizures. Some people with epilepsy simply stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure, while others have convulsions. It is not uncommon to experience an unprovoked seizure once in one’s lifetime. Having one seizure does not mean someone has epilepsy or another seizure disorder. Epilepsy affects 1-2% of the population of the United States. About 125,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed each year, and a significant number of children and adults that have not been diagnosed or treated have epilepsy. Treatment usually includes medications. Some children show no symptoms as they get older and some develop epilepsy later in life.

Equitable Adoption
The legal process used in some states to establish inheritance rights of a child, when the prospective adoptive parent had entered into an oral contract to adopt the child and the child was placed with the parent but the adoption was not finalized before the parent died.

Escort
An individual or group who supervise the transit of children from sending to receiving countries.

Evaluation of Family Progress
The stage of the CPS case process where the CPS caseworker measures changes in family behaviors and conditions (risk factors), monitors risk elimination or reduction, assesses strengths and determines case closure.

Exempt Provider
A social work professional or organization that only performs a home study or a child background study in the United States in connection with a Hague Convention adoption, and does not provide any of the other adoption services. However, the home study performed, must subsequently, be approved by an accredited adoption service provider.

Exit Visa/Process
The process/paperwork required for a child who has been adopted and now needs travel and immigration documents from the source country and the US Embassy before leaving the country (passport) and entering the US (immigrant visa). As a part of the immigrant visa application/exit process, the child will be examined by a U.S. approved foreign physician, to ensure that the child does not have a medical condition that the adoptive parents were uninformed about.

Expectant Parent
The term "expectant parent" is the preferred term over birth parent. One becomes a birth parent when their parental rights have been terminated. At Adoption STAR, if you are pregnant, then you are considered an expectant parent. Pregnancy in itself is a form of parenting. Adoption STAR encourages expectant parents to cherish their pregnancies and birth experiences and to be as involved as they wish in the adoption process.

Extended Family
A child’s relatives (other than parents) such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and sometimes close friends or birth family members.

Facial Dysmorphology
Facial dysmorphology is typically a congenital malformation of the face usually affecting the structure

Facilitator
Within domestic adoption a facilitator is typically a private individual or un-licensed entity that helps to arrange an adoption. The use of facilitators is illegal in the State of New York and many other states as well.

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.

Family Assessment
The stage of the child protection process when the CPS caseworker, community treatment provider and the family reach a mutual understanding regarding the behaviors and conditions that must change to reduce or eliminate the risk of maltreatment, the most critical treatment needs that must be addressed and the strengths on which to build.

Family Group Conferencing
A family meeting model used by CPS agencies to optimize family strengths in the planning process. This model brings the family, extended family and others important in the family’s life (e.g., friends, clergy, neighbors) together to make decisions regarding how best to ensure safety of the family members.

Family Preservation
A program of supportive social services designed to keep families together by providing services to children and families in their home. It is based on the premise that birth families are the preferred means of providing family life for children.

Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE)
A disorder associated with cognitive and behavioral difficulties in children whose birth mothers drank alcohol while pregnant. Symptoms are similar to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) but less severe or comprehensive.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Birth defects and serious life-long mental and emotional impairments that may result from heavy maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Symptoms of mental and emotional deficits may include significant learning and behavioral disorders (including attention deficits and hyperactivity), diminished cause-and-effect thinking, poor social judgment and impulsive behaviors.

Final Adoption Decree
Legal document issued by the court that completes the adoption.

Final Order of Adoption
A document that states the child is legally adopted by a specific family. This document comes from the country where the child is adopted, i.e., either in the US or in the country where the child was born.

Finalization
The legal process that makes the adoption permanent and binding and grants permanent legal custody of a child to the adoptive parents.

Finalization Hearing
Court action that grants permanent legal custody of a child to the adoptive parents.

Foreign Providers
Individuals or groups working in overseas nations who assist in arranging inter-country adoptions. They are frequently attorneys.

Fost-Adopt Placements
Foster placement of a child with adoption being the final goal once all legal requirements have been met, the couple must be certified as suitable to adopt with their home and licensed as a foster home. There is no assurance that placement will evolve into adoption.

Foster Adoption Placement
Foster placement of a child with adoption being the final goal once all legal requirements have been met, the couple must be certified as suitable to adopt with their home and licensed as a foster home. There is no assurance that placement will evolve into adoption. (Also known as fost-adopt placement.)

Foster Care
Substitute parental care for a short, extended or permanent period of time for a child whose biological parents cannot provide care for.

Foster Child
Child who is placed with a state-licensed family or facility because their biological parents cannot provide proper care.

Foster Parent
State-licensed adult who is paid or volunteers to take care of children, but is not related by blood, marriage or adoption

Foster-Adoption
A child placement in which the court has not yet severed birth parent rights or in which birth parents are appealing the court’s decision but foster parents agree to adopt the child if/when parental rights are terminated. Social workers place the child with specially trained foster-adopt parents who will work with the child during family reunification efforts but who will adopt the child if the child becomes available for adoption. The main reason for making such a placement, also called legal-risk adoption, is to spare the child another move.

Genealogy
A family’s genetic line, family tree or a record of such ancestry.

Gestational Diabetes
During pregnancy, some women develop high levels of blood sugar, a condition known as gestational diabetes, or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). If GDM occurs it is often around the 24th week of pregnancy. According to the American Diabetes Association, GDM affects 18 percent of all pregnant women. Having GDM does not mean the woman had Diabetes before pregnancy or after birth. In most cases, GDM develops in women who never had Diabetes. If this is left undiagnosed the mother and child will certainly be at risk. Often very high birth weight is associated with babies born to women with GDM that may cause a host of other problems for the woman and the child.

Green Card
(also called Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551): A child will enter the US on one of two types of immigrant visas. An immigrant visa gives permission to enter the US and apply for permanent residence. The proof of permanent residence (the right to live and work in the US permanently) is called a Green Card. The Green Card should arrive within 2 month’s of the child’s arrival in the US. BCIS form G-731 may be used if the adoptive parents need to check the status of their child’s Green Card. Adoptive parents may need their child’s the Green Card for various other legal purposes such as readopting, obtaining a social security card, obtaining certificate of US citizenship.

Grief
A feeling of emotional deprivation or loss. Each member of the adoption triad at some point may experience grief.

Guardian
Person who fulfills some of the responsibilities of the legal parent role, although the courts or birth parents may continue to hold some jurisdiction of the child. Guardians do not have the same reciprocal rights of inheritance as birth or adoptive parents. Guardianship is subject to ongoing supervision by the court and ends at the child’s majority or by order of the court

Guardian ad Litem
A lawyer or lay person who represents a child in juvenile or family court. Usually this person considers the "best interest" of the child and may perform a variety of roles, including those of independent investigator, advocate, advisor and guardian for the child. A lay person who serves in this role is sometimes known as a court-appointed special advocate or CASA. The status of guardian ad litem exists only within the confines of the particular court case in which the appointment occurs.

Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption
A multinational agreement developed at the beginning of this decade designed to promote the development of institutional structures for the supervision of adoption and to open lines of communication between sending and receiving countries. The United States has ratified this convention and has implemented it on April 1, 2008. Only Hague Accredited adoption agencies can send or receive children with other Hague Signatory countries. If the sending country is not a Hague Signatory country, a non-Hague Accredited agency may still operate in that country.

Heroin Abuse
Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiate family. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as a black sticky substance known on the streets as "black tar heroin." Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is "cut" with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin also can be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment. A child born to a woman who has abused Heroin or Methadone a synthetic analgesic drug that is used as a substitute to treat heroin or morphine addiction) is typically treated after birth with medications to reduce the affects of withdrawal.

HIV
HIV / Human Immunodeficiency Virus can be spread via infected blood and from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. HIV can damage the immune system interfering with the body's ability to fight organisms that cause diseases. It can take many years before HIV can weaken ones immune system converting the diagnosis to AIDS. Today in the U.S. the research for a cure has made dramatic positive leaps and there are medications that have shown to slow the onset or progression of he disease. Unfortunately in many underdeveloped countries, HIV/AIDS continues to be an epidemic.

HIV Positive
The Term HIV Positive /HIV+ means having a positive reaction on a test for the human immunodeficiency virus which is used to indicate if an individual has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus but does not yet have AIDS. Persons who are HIV+ require counseling, information regarding transmission of the virus, and close supervision of their health status. In the United States it is rare that their status will convert to an AIDS diagnosis due to the many medical breakthroughs we have had.

Home Study
A study of the home of prospective adoptive parents, completed prior to placement of a child in their home, validates suitability to adopt for the courts.

I-171H Letter
A form letter from the BCIS stating that they have processed and approved the adoptive parents’ Application to Advance Process Orphan Approval (I-600A or I-800A form) and that the National Visa Center has cabled the US Embassy abroad as indicated on your I-600A/I-800A. Approvals are primarily determined based on favorable FBI fingerprint clearances and home study content.

I-600 Form
"Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative": This form is required for all international adoptions. It is utilized by the US Embassy/BCIS when adoptive parents are in country/going through the exit process/interview after your completed court hearing. The form is very similar to the advanced processing form (I-600A) form most people initially submit; with the exception that it is blue in color and states adoptive parents have now identified a child. This form is used by the BCIS to determine whether the child the prospective parent(s) wants to adopt, meets the BCIS definition of an "orphan." If an I-600A was not previously filed, the prospective parent(s) will also be required to submit the documentation that would normally have been submitted with the I-600A.

I-600A Form
"Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition": For most people, this is the initial BCIS application submitted to their regional office/sub-office. The I-600A can speed up the adoption process in the US by allowing the BCIS to begin the part of the immigration approval regarding an adoptive parents ability to provide a proper home environment and their suitability as a parent. The adoptive parents do not need to have a completed Home Study or have identified a child or country in order to submit the I600A - the Home Study can be sent separately when completed, as well as information regarding which country’s embassy to cable the approval to once the I600A is complete. Adoptive parents will be required to submit photocopies of birth, marriage (current) and divorce decrees, plus the BCIS fee. The specific requirements are outlined on the form. Fingerprinting starts the FBI background checks required by the BCIS for all adults in your household.

I-800 Form
The purpose of this form is to determine the child’s eligibility for classification as a Convention adoptee. The petition is filed by the U.S. Citizen Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) to finalize the immigration process of a child who habitually resides in a Hague Convention Country. The petitioner must have an approved, valid Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country (Article 16), in order to file the Form I-800. This form is filed with the NBC

I-800A Form
The purpose of this form is to adjudicate the eligibility and suitability of the applicant(s) to adopt a child who habitually resides in a Hague Adoption Convention country. A prospective adoptive applicant should file Form I-800A with the NBC office, but may not do so until a Hague Accredited agency, acting as their Primary Provider, has approved, signed off on and released the home study.

I-864 Form
an "Affidavit of Support" in an international adoption

IAA - Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000
IAA is the acronym for the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, the Public Law that provides for the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention

ICPC
Acronym for Interstate Compact for Placement of Children, which monitors the movement of foster and adoptive children from state to state. The compact allows children for adoption to cross state lines.

Identified or Agency Assisted Adoptions
Agency adoptions in which contact between birth and adoptive parents occurs prior to agency involvement. In that sense, the adoption situation has already been ’identified’ and the agency ’assists’ with the placement. According to state statutes, the agency may temporarily assume guardianship of the child (this would be required in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota), or where permitted, the guardianship may be passed directly from the birth family or legal guardian to the adoptive family. Also known as Designated Adoption.

Identifying Information
Information about members of the adoption triad such as full names and addresses.

IEP
Acronym for Individualized Educational Plan is a written plan for educational support services and outcomes developed for students enrolled in special education programs.

IH-3 and IH-4 Visas
These visas are similar to the respective function of the IR-3 and IR-4 Visa noted above. However, the “IH” is a classification of immediate relative under section 201(b) to a child who has been adopted in a foreign state, or a child who is emigrating from a foreign state to be adopted in t he United States, when the foreign state is a party to the Convention

Immigrant Visa
See Visa

Immigration and Naturalization Service
See Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration.

Incest
Incest is defined as sexual intercourse between close blood relatives. It is a crime in all states, even if consensual by both parties. It is often also co-existent with sexual abuse since usually the younger person is a victim of the predatory sexual activities of an older relative. If a pregnancy occurs due to an incestuous relationship a miscarriage is possible as well as the birth of a child with mental or physical disabilities due to the joining of recessive family genes carrying such weaknesses.

Independent Adoption
An adoption arranged privately by a non-agency third party (i.e., lawyer) or between the birth family and adoptive parents.

Independent Living
A type of placement that provides life-skills training to youth to assist them to acquire the skills they will need to live independently as adults. The program is designed for children who are "aging out" of foster care and for whom there is no other permanency plan

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
Federal Act designed to protect the interest of Native American children and tribes. The Indian Child Welfare Act 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.

Indirect Adoption
When an agency through its collaborative relationships helps identify a child placement for one of their adoptive parent clients. The birth parent surrenders the child to the other agency or attorney not the adoptive parent’s agency.

Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
A plan for educational support services and outcomes developed for students enrolled in special education programs.

Infertility
Experiencing problems conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

INS
INS has changed its name to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, now a bureau under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Institutionalization
The placement of children in hospitals, institutions or orphanages. Placement in institutions during early critical developmental periods and for lengthy periods is often associated with developmental delays due to environmental deprivation, poor staff-child ratios or lack of early stimulation.

Intake
The process where the caseworker or intake specialist receives information on the prospective clients and shares information on the agency and the adoption process.

Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000
Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) is the Public Law that provides for the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention.

Intermediaries and Facilitators
An individual or group, which assists in adoptive placements but are not licensed adoption agencies. Activities by intermediaries and facilitators are prohibited in many states.

International Adoption
The adoption of a child born outside of the United States

International Facilitators and Intermediaries
In contrast to domestic adoptions, where these terms are used synonymously, these terms take on different meanings in the field of intercountry adoptions. Facilitators are individuals or groups working in the United States who assist in arranging intercountry adoptions. State authorities do not license facilitators, but they often make their services available to licensed agencies. Intermediaries are individuals or groups working in overseas nations who assist in arranging intercountry adoptions. They are frequently attorneys.

Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA)
An agreement between member States that governs the interstate delivery of and payment for medical services and adoption assistance payments/subsidies for adopted children with special needs. The agreements are established by the laws of the states, which are parties to the compact.

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 adopted the ICPC as statutory law in their respective jurisdictions. The Interstate Compact for Placement of Children monitors the movement of foster and adoptive children from state to state. The compact allows children for adoption to cross state lines.

Involuntary Termination of Rights
A situation where children have been removed from their birth parent(s) by the courts and parental rights were terminated due to abuse or neglect

IR-3 Visa
The child was adopted overseas and (1) the adoptive parent (if single parent) or both parents (if married couple) saw/observed the child prior to the adoption and (2) the foreign adoption grants both adoptive parents and child the same rights, responsibilities, & privileges as would an adoption in the US. Children issued IR/HR-3 immigrant visas do not require re-adoption in the US under federal laws.

IR-4 Visa
The child is coming to the United States for adoption. An IR/HR-4 is issued to a child when (1) the foreign country’s laws only permit the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of the child rather than to fully adopt the child in that country and/or (2) the prospective adoptive parent(s) did not see/observe the child prior to the foreign adoption. Children issued IR/HR-4 immigrant visas must be adopted or readopted after they enter the US. See also Re-Adopt.)

Juvenile and Family Courts
Established in most states to resolve conflict and to otherwise intervene in the lives of families in a manner that promotes the best interest of children. These courts specialize in areas such as child maltreatment, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, divorces, child custody and child support.

Juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency occurs when a person under the age of 18 years commits a violation of the federal or state laws which would have been a crime if committed by an adult; or when noncriminal acts are committed by a juvenile for which supervision or treatment by juvenile authorities is authorized.

Kinship Adoption
Adoption of a child by a family member.

Kinship Care
The full-time nurturing of a child by someone related to the child by family ties or by prior relationship connection (fictive kin).

Learning Disabilities (LD)
One or more impairments in reading, mathematics or written expression skills that interfere with academic performance in school or in activities of daily living requiring those skills. Performance on standardized tests below that expected for age, schooling and level of intelligence are used as preliminary diagnostic tools to identify areas where children are experiencing problems. Children with learning disabilities may be of average or above average intelligence, but have difficulty learning, sorting and storing information. Some children find learning in a regular classroom difficult and LD classes may be recommended to help them achieve their potential in school.

Legal Custody
Responsibility for a person according to law, such as a guardian’s authority (conferred by the court) over the person or property (or both.)

Legal Guardian
Any person who can make legal decisions for a minor child.

Legal Risk Adoption
An adoption in which the child is placed with a prospective adoptive family even though the prospective adoptive family can not be guaranteed that the child is eligible for adoption because birth parents rights have not yet been terminated. (Also known as At-Risk Placement or Legal-Risk Placement.)

Legal Risk Placement
Placement of a child in a prospective adoptive family when a child is not yet legally free for adoption. Before a child can be legally adopted, parental rights of his or her birth parents must be terminated. In a "legal risk" adoptive placement either this termination of parental rights has not yet occurred, or it is being contested. In some cases, termination of parental rights is delayed until a specific adoptive family has been identified.

Legally Free
A child whose birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated so that the child is "free" to be adopted by another family.

Liaison
The designation of a person within an organization who has responsibility for facilitating communication, collaboration and coordination between agencies.

Life Book
A pictorial and written representation of the child’s life designed to help the child make sense of his unique background and history. The life book includes birthparents, other relatives, birthplace and date, etc. and can be put together by social workers, foster parents or adoptive parents working with the child.

Long-Term Foster Care
The intentional and planned placement of a child in foster care for an extended period of time. After the goal of adoption has been explored and not selected, and relative options are not feasible, a goal of planned long-term foster care may be seen as a viable goal. Increasingly some States child welfare systems no longer view long-term foster care as a placement alternative.

Loss
A feeling of emotional deprivation that is experienced at some point in time. For a birth parent the initial loss will usually be felt at or subsequent to the placement of the child. Adoptive parents who are infertile feel a loss in their inability to bear a child. An adopted child may feel a sense of loss at various points in time; the first time the child realizes he is adopted may invoke a strong sense of loss for his birth family.

Low Birth Weight
An infant born weighing less than 5.5 pounds (2500 grams) regardless of gestational age is classified as "a low-birth-weight infant.” Low birth weight does not necessarily mean the child was born premature. A baby could be of low birth weight due to problem maternal malnutrition, nicotine usage, drug or alcohol use and abuse, illness and poor health care

Maltreatment
Physical abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Federal CAPTA legislation (P.L. 104-235) provides definitions that identify a minimum set of acts or behaviors that characterize maltreatment. Each state is responsible for providing its own definitions of child abuse and neglect within the state’s civil and criminal context.

Mandated Reporter
Individuals required by state statutes to report suspected child abuse and neglect to the proper authorities (usually CPS or law enforcement agencies). Mandated reporters typically include professionals, such as educators and other school personnel, health care and mental health professionals, social workers, childcare providers and law enforcement officers. Some states identify all citizens as mandated reporters.

Matching
The process of finding prospective families specifically suited to meet the needs of a waiting child, not to be confused with placement.

Maternity Home
Residence for pregnant women. The number of homes has decreased over the past three decades, and existing homes often have a waiting list of women. The women who live in a maternity home may pay a small fee or no fee to live in the home and they often apply for public assistance and Medicaid payments.

Mental Illness
Mental illnesses are often medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, communication skills and overall functioning. Often people with mental illness have a hard time coping with the everyday demands of life. Serious mental illnesses include major Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder. The good news about mental illness is that treatment and sometimes recovery is possible, however the diagnosed individual must follow a treatment plan which may include medication, psychosocial or behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, support groups, and other community based services. Mental illness affects people of all ages, race, religion, or socio-economic background. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Many mental illnesses are known to be heredity while others are exacerbated or brought on due to environment or traumatic experiences.

Mental Retardation
No longer a preferred term, this is meant to describe impaired or incomplete intellectual development characterized by an IQ of 70 or below and characterized by significant functional limitations in at least two of the following skills: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health and safety. Onset usually occurs before age 18. More than 200 specific causes of mental retardation have been identified. Degrees of severity reflect the level of intellectual impairment: Mild Mental Retardation - IQ level 50-55 to approximately 70; Moderate Retardation - IQ level 35-40 to 50-55; Severe Mental Retardation - IQ level 20-25 to 35-40; Profound Mental Retardation - IQ level below 20-25. Developmental disabilities and cognitive challenges are preferred terms.

MEPA
Acronym for Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994. A federal law, the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act 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.

Methadone
Methadone is a synthetic analgesic drug that is often used as a substitute to treat morphine and heroin addiction. Methadone is a powerful narcotic drug in the opiate family.

Methamphetamine
Often referred to as “Meth” or other street names including: Chalk, Crank, Croak, Crypto, Crystal, Fire, Glass, Meth, Tweek, and White Cross. It is a central nervous system stimulant that is highly addictive and is similar to amphetamine used as the hydrochloride salt in the treatment of ADHD. Methamphetamine is a crystal-like powdered substance that sometimes comes in large rock-like chunks. When the powder flakes off the rock, the shards look like glass. Methamphetamine can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked.

Minority Children
Children of partial or full non-Caucasian parentage, or mixed Caucasian and non-Caucasian heritage.

Moratorium
When a foreign country temporarily closes its international adoption program for reasons such as in order to restructure their programs.

Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA)
A federal law enacted in 1994 and implemented through state policy. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, as amended, P.L. 103-382 [42 USC 622] prohibits the delay or denial of any adoption or placement in foster care due to the race, color or national origin of the child or of the foster or adoptive parents and requires states to provide for diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children for whom homes are needed. The 1996 amendment, Section 1808 of P.L. 104-188, Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption, affirms the prohibition against delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or foster care on the basis of race, color or national origin of the foster or adoptive parents or of the child involved [42 USC 1996b].

Multi-Racial
Refers to a child that has heritage of two or more races.

Multidisciplinary Team
Established between agencies and professionals to discuss the best interest of a child at various stages. These terms may also be designated by different names, including child protection teams, interdisciplinary teams or case consultation teams.

N-643
Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child: (See Certificate of US Citizenship.)

Naturalization
When a child not born in the US becomes a US citizen. (See also Certificate of US citizenship or N-643).

Neglect
The failure to provide for the child’s basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational or emotional. Physical neglect can include not providing adequate food or clothing, appropriate medical care, supervision or proper weather protection (heat or coats). Educational neglect includes failure to provide appropriate schooling, special educational needs or allowing excessive truancies. Psychological neglect includes the lack of any emotional support and love, chronic inattention to the child, exposure to spouse abuse or drug and alcohol abuse.

Nicotine
Nicotine is a colorless, poisonous alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant and used as an insecticide. It is the substance in tobacco to which cigarette smokers can become addicted.

Non-Ambulatory
If one is deemed non-ambulatory then they are incapable of walking.

Non-Identifying Information
Information that allows the members of the adoption triad to know something about each other, but does not directly identify them to each other. First names, physical descriptions, occupation, education, personality characteristics, hobbies, interests, and religious affiliation are examples of non-identifying information.

Non-Recurring Adoption Expense
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.

Non-Sectarian Agencies
Any agency that does not have any religious requirements for its clients.

Notary
Authentication of a signature on a legal document. When a licensed notary of the state has witnessed the signature on a document, it is said to be notarized. The notary will attach a stamped notation and seal to the document that verifies that they are a licensed notary and witnessed the signature. For some countries, this is just the first step in authenticating documents that will still need further authentication by county, state, US, and/or foreign authorities.

Occupational Therapy
The science of using everyday activities with specific goals, to help people of all ages prevent, lessen or overcome physical disabilities.

Open Adoption
An adoption plan in which identifying information about birth and adoptive families is openly shared, and there is ongoing contact after placement occurs.

Open Records
Accessibility to own adoption records by each member of the triad. This includes access to identifying information. In states where this is authorized by state law, adult adoptees over a certain age, usually over the age of 21, are able to obtain their original birth certificate without the requirement of a court order.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
A recurrent pattern of negative, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least six months. This disorder is characterized by frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors: frequent loss of temper, tendency to argue with adults, refusal to obey adult rules or requests, deliberate behaviors to annoy others, spiteful and vindictive behavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry and resentful, use of obscene language and a tendency to blame others for mistakes or misbehaviors. Symptoms are less severe than those associated with Conduct Disorder but sometimes indicate the early stages of Conduct Disorder (CD) and may sometimes lead to the development of Antisocial Personality Disorder during adulthood.

Orientation meeting
An initial group meeting for prospective adoptive parents where information about the agency’s procedures and policies are explained and questions about adoption may be answered.

Original Birth Certificate
Legal document issued at time of birth with the child’s biological history including the identity of one or both biological parents.

Orphan
Child from another country that has no parents or only one parent that cannot care for them.

Orphan (international adoption definition)
For immigration purposes, a child under the age of 16 whose parents have died or disappeared, who has been abandoned or otherwise separated from both parents, whose sole surviving parent is impoverished by local standards and incapable of providing that child with proper care and who has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. To enter the United States, an orphan must have been adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen or be admitted to the United States for the purpose of adoption by a U.S. citizen.

Orphanage
Institution that houses children who are orphaned, abandoned or whose parents are unable to care for them. Orphanages are rarely used in the United States, although they are more frequently used abroad.

Out-of-Home Care
Child care, foster care or residential care provided by persons, organizations and institutions to children who are placed outside their families, usually under the jurisdiction of juvenile or family court.

PACA
Acronym for Post Adoption Contact Agreement. Post Adoption Contact Agreements are arrangements that allow for some kind of contact between a child’s adoptive family and members of the child’s birth family or other persons with whom the child has an established relationship, such as a foster parent. These arrangements, sometimes referred to as open adoption agreements, can range from informal, mutual understandings between the birth and adoptive families to written, formal contracts.

Parens Patriae Doctrine
Originating in feudal England, a doctrine that vests in the state a right of guardianship of minors. This concept has gradually evolved into the principle that the community, in addition to the parent, has a strong interest in the care and nurturing of children. Schools, juvenile courts and social service agencies all derive their authority from the state’s power to ensure the protection and rights of children as a unique class.

Parent
Person responsible for the care of the child. Also called caretaker.

Passport
An identification document/booklet, issued by the US State Department. It is needed in order to travel to a foreign country. Passport applications can be obtained and processed through specific post offices, federal buildings, and BCIS facilities. A child will be issued a passport before exiting the foreign country, allowing him or her to begin the exit process at the US Embassy and subsequently leave the country/enter the United States.

Permanency Planning
Permanency planning is a social work practice philosophy that promotes a permanent living situation for every child entering the foster care system with an adult; with whom the child has a continuous, reciprocal relationship; and within a minimum amount of time. For children and youth in the custody and placement responsibility of the county department of social services, permanence occurs when he/she has a lasting, nurturing legally secure relationship with at least one adult that is characterized by mutual commitment.

Permanent placement
When a child’s adoption is finalized and the adoptive family is now the child’s forever family.

Petition
Written request to the court for legal custody, guardianship or adoption of a child.

Photolisting book (Exchange book)
A photo book of children and families listed with an adoption exchange. It will usually include a brief description of the child’s background and what type of family is being sought, as well as a brief description of the family and the type of child being sought. Many state’s photolisting books are now obsolete as they now are posted via specified websites

Physical Abuse
The inflicting of a non-accidental physical injury upon a child. This may include burning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating or otherwise harming a child. It may, however, have been the result of over-discipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age.

Physical Therapy
The treatment of physical delay, dysfunction or injury by the use of therapeutic exercise and the application of modalities, intended to restore or facilitate healthy function or development. Also called physiotherapy.

Placement
A placement occurs when a child is brought to live in a home other than his or her birth family home. The placement of the child may be temporary or long-term in out-of-home care or foster care, or it may be permanent such as in an adoptive home.

Police Clearance
A criminal clearance issued by your local Police or Sheriff’s Dept. This clearance may be required for the home study and/or included in the Dossier. This check/clearance will be in addition to the state clearances/background checks and the BCIS background check through the FBI.

Post Adoption Contact Agreements (PACA)
Are arrangements that allow for some kind of contact between a child’s adoptive family and members of the child’s birth family or other persons with whom the child has an established relationship, such as a foster parent. These arrangements, sometimes referred to as open adoption agreements, can range from informal, mutual understandings between the birth and adoptive families to written, formal contracts.

Post Adoption Support Services
Any assistance provided to the adoptive family, the adoptee, and birth parents after finalization of the adoption.

Post Placement Reports
After the child is placed with an adoptive family, a social worker must visit the family and submit a report to the courts, or in the case of an international adoption, to the country from which the child came. The number of visits and reports varies from state to state and by country.

Post Placement Support Services
Any assistance provided to the adoptive family, the adoptee, and birth parents after placement and before finalization

Power of Attorney
A written, notarized permission for someone other than oneself to represent you. A Power of Attorney is sometimes used to allow someone in your child’s country to represent you at your child’s adoption hearing/court date.

Premature
A birth is considered “premature” or “preterm” when a child is born before 37 weeks gestation. Premature births are common when multiples are being expected or when the pregnancy is at risk for any reason.

Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is the use of a medication other than how it was prescribed or used without a prescription. According to several national surveys, prescription medications, such as those used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety, are being abused at a rate second only to marijuana among illicit drug users. The consequences of this abuse have been steadily worsening, reflected in increased treatment admissions, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths.

Primary Prevention
Activities geared to a sample of the general population to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring. Also referred to as "universal prevention."

Primary Service Provider (PSP)
A PSP is a Hague Accredited Agency with international placement programs and develops and implements all six adoption services required by the Hague for Convention country adoptions. Those six adoption services include: identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption Redefining What Makes a Parent securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption performing a background study on a child or a home study on prospective adoptive parents and reporting on such a study making non-judicial determinations of the best interest of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement of the child monitoring a case after a child has been placed with the prospective adoptive parents until finalization of the adoption when necessary because of a disruption before finalization of the adoption, assuming custody and providing facilitation of child care or any other special service pending an alternative placement.

Private Adoption Agencies
Non-governmental agencies licensed by the state to provide adoption services, primarily dealing with infant adoptions.

Profile
Also referred to as an "adoptive parent profile," an "adoption profile" or in its simplest form it is a document that gives background and current information about a parent that desires to adopt a child. It is intended to contain information that will be provided to birth parents to assist them in selecting adoptive parents to adopt their child. Although every adoption agency will have its own preferred format for parent profiles, if left to their own devices, the parent profiles that would be created by adoptive parents would be just as original, creative and different as the individuals that prepare them. Most commonly, a profile will include a narrative description of the adoptive parent or adoptive family, statistical information, such as age, educational and employment background, and talents and hobbies, plus a "Dear Birth Mother Letter," addressed to the potential birth mother and containing information about the adoptive parents’ reasons for adoption, their parenting philosophy, details about their relationship and perhaps even a discussion of their religious and spiritual philosophy on life. The parent profile may even be presented in the form of a Photo Profile or even a notebook or scrapbook.

Prospective Adoptive Parent
The parent that is registering with an agency to adopt or petitioning to adopt.

Protocol
An inter-agency agreement that delineates joint roles and responsibilities by establishing criteria and procedures for working together on behalf of children.

Psychological Maltreatment
A pattern of caregiver behavior or extreme incidents that convey to children that they are worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered or only of value to meeting another’s needs. This can include parents or caretakers using extreme or bizarre forms of punishment or threatening or terrorizing a child. The term "psychological maltreatment" is also known as emotional abuse or neglect, verbal abuse or mental abuse.

Psychotropic Medication
From the Greek psycho (the mind) and trop (a turning) = Capable of turning the mind. Psychotropic medication or psychodynamic medication is capable of affecting a person’s mind, emotion, and behavior. One common psychotropic medication is Lithium, which may be used to treat mental illnesses

Public Adoption Agencies
Governmental adoption agency or social services department providing adoption services, primarily dealing with older children in foster care.

Purchase of service
A contract between two agencies whereby the agency having custody of the child pays the agency working on behalf of the adoptive family for recruitment, placement and/or post-placement services.

Putative Father Registry
Also known as Birth Father Registry is state registry where alleged paternity can be listed and birth fathers have the opportunity to protest the birth mother’s adoption plans. Approximately one-half of the states have a putative registry.

Qualified Adoption Expense
In U.S. tax law, the expenses eligible for the adoption credit, which is a direct dollar-for-dollar reduction in one’s tax liability for each child under the age of 18 that a taxpayer adopts. Qualified adoption expenses include attorney’s fees, court costs, and traveling expenses. It is important to note, however, that expenses incurred while adopting one’s spouse’s child are not qualified adoption expenses.

Qualified Adoptive Parent
This term refers to an adoptive parent who meets the requirements qualifications to adopt which may be set forth by state law, an adoption agency or country with an international adoption program.

RAD
Acronym for Reactive Attachment Disorder is a mental health disorder in which a child is unable to form healthy social relationships, particularly with a primary caregiver. Often children with RAD will seem charming and helpless to outsiders, while exhibiting disturbing and challenging behaviors within the family. RAD is frequently seen in children who have had inconsistent or abusive care in early childhood, including children adopted from orphanages or foster care. It is a condition with onset before age 5, and often not identified until the child is older, resulting from an early lack of consistent care, characterized by a child’s or infant’s inability to make appropriate social contact with others. Symptoms may include failure to thrive, developmental delays, failure to make eye contact, feeding disturbances, hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound, failure to initiate or respond to social interaction, indiscriminate sociability, self-stimulation and susceptibility to infection.

Re-Adoption
Process by where international adoptive parents adopt their children for a second time in front of a U.S. judge.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
A mental health disorder in which a child is unable to form healthy social relationships, particularly with a primary caregiver. Often children with RAD will seem charming and helpless to outsiders, while exhibiting disturbing and challenging behaviors within the family. RAD is frequently seen in children who have had inconsistent or abusive care in early childhood, including children adopted from orphanages or foster care. It is a condition with onset before age 5, and often not identified until the child is older, resulting from an early lack of consistent care, characterized by a child’s or infant’s inability to make appropriate social contact with others. Symptoms may include failure to thrive, developmental delays, failure to make eye contact, feeding disturbances, hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound, failure to initiate or respond to social interaction, indiscriminate sociability, self-stimulation and susceptibility to infection.

Receiving Country
The country into which a foreign born and adopted child will take citizenship and residence.

Redacted
A term used when a document has had personal (or identifying information) deleted or blacked out; as a consequence, redacted is often used to describe documents from which sensitive information has been expunged.

Referral
When an agency matches what they know about the adoptive parents with what they have learned about a child from a hospital, orphanage and/or the caregivers. Referrals usually have the name and birth date of the child, a photo in an international adoption situation, and some medical information. The quantity/quality of information varies from just a few vital statistics to a full battery of laboratory test results. The prospective parents have a specific amount of time after a referral is made to decide whether to accept or decline the referra

Relinquishment of Parental Rights
Legal act by which birth parents consent to an adoption and give up all legal rights to a child so an adoption can take place.

Residential Care Facility
A structured 24-hour care facility with staff that provide psychological services to help severely troubled children overcome behavioral, emotional, mental or psychological problems that adversely affect family interaction, school achievement and peer relationships.

Residential Treatment
Therapeutic intervention processes for individuals who cannot or do not function satisfactorily in their own homes. For children and adolescents, residential treatment tends to be the last resort when a child is in danger of hurting himself or others.

Respite Care
Temporary or short-term home care of a child provided for pay or on a voluntary basis by adults other than the parents (birth, foster or adoptive parents).

Reunification
The returning of foster children to the custody of their parent(s) after placement outside the home.

Reunification Services
Interventions by social worker and other professionals to help children and their birth parents develop mutually reciprocal relationships that will help them to live together again as a family.

Reunion
A meeting between birth parent(s) and an adopted adult or between an adopted adult and other birth relatives. The adopted adult may have been placed as an infant and thus has no memory of the birth parent(s).

Review Hearings
Held by the juvenile and family court to review dispositions (usually every six months) and to determine the need to maintain placement in out-of-home care or court jurisdiction of a child.

Revocation of Consent Agreements
According to some state statutes, birth parents or legal guardians are permitted to revoke their consent to adoptive placements prior to the finalization of petitions to adopt. The period of revocation varies according to state guidelines, and could extend from a matter of hours to the finalization decree. Some states do not recognize a period of revocation; thus, consent agreements are irrevocable upon acceptance by the courts.

Revoke
Take back consent to an adoption. Some states offer no time for revocation while other states place a time limit.

Risk Assessment
To assess and measure the likelihood that a child will be maltreated in the future, frequently through the use of checklists, matrices, scales and other methods of measurement.

Risk Factors
Behaviors and conditions present in the child, parent or family that will likely contribute to child maltreatment occurring in the future.

Ritalin
A commonly prescribed drug that can help to control some of the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. It may have a calming effect and help to improve concentration.

Safety
Absence of an imminent or immediate threat of moderate-to-serious harm to the child.

Safety Assessment
A part of the case process in which available information is analyzed to identify whether a child is in immediate danger of moderate or serious harm. Safety assessments are also utilized when a there are potential concerns regarding the suitability of a prospective adoptive family.

Safety Plan
A casework document developed when it is determined that the child is in imminent or potential risk of serious harm. In the safety plan, the caseworker targets the factors that are causing or contributing to the risk of imminent serious harm to the child, and identifies, along with the family, the interventions that will control the safety factors and assure the child’s protection.

Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with everyday life and those around you and can manifest by a disintegration of personality and behavior expressed through delusions or hallucinations. Research shows that there is a hereditary factor.

Search
An attempt, usually by birthparent, adopted person or adoptive parent (but sometimes by volunteers or paid consultants) to make a connection between the birth parent and the biological child.

Search and Consent Procedures
Procedures, sanctioned in state law, that authorize a public or private agency to assist a searching party to locate another party to the adoption to determine if the second party agrees to the release of identifying information or to meeting with the requesting party. If consent is provided, the disclosure of information may be authorized by a court. In some states counseling is required before information is received.

Section 504
A federal law that prohibits any agency that gets federal money from discriminating against a person on the basis of disability. Section 504 requires "reasonable accommodation" of a disability. Section 504 can be used to address special education issues that may not be covered by the IDEA. For example, such issues may include the length of your child’s school day, the accessibility of your child’s school building, services to parents with disabilities, or the educational treatment of children who have disabilities that are not listed in the IDEA, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Section 504 can also be used to get reasonable accommodation for a child who has a disability but who does not need special education. For example, a child who has diabetes may need medication or a snack during the day, or a child who uses a wheelchair may need help getting from one part of the school building to another or special transportation for school field trips. When these accommodations are placed in writing this is called a 504 Plan.

Seizures
A seizure is a sudden disruption of the brain's normal electrical activity accompanied by altered consciousness and/or other neurological and behavioral manifestations. Epilepsy is a condition characterized by recurrent seizures, however there are many different seizure disorders. It is not uncommon for someone to experience at least one seizure sometime in their lifetime. This does not mean they have a seizure disorder. Most seizures are benign, but of course they can be dangerous and even be life-threatening. Undiagnosed seizures can lead to conditions that are more serious and more difficult to manage if left untreated.

Semi-Open Adoption
An adoption in which a child’s birth parents and pre-adoptive parents may exchange primarily non-identifying information. After the child is placed in the adoptive home, contact with the birth family may involve letters or pictures or other communications sent through the intermediary of the adoption agency or the attorney who assisted in the placement.

Sending Country
The country where the child resided prior to joining the adoptive family.

Sexual Abuse
The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution or other form of sexual exploitation of children; or incest with children.

Sexual Abuse Symptomology
Indicators and behaviors that suggest that a child may have been sexually abused, including: excessive masturbation, sexual interaction with peers, sexual aggression towards younger and more naive children, seductive behavior and promiscuity.

Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia or sickle cell disease is a disorder of the blood caused by abnormal hemoglobin (which is an oxygen-carrying protein within the red blood cells). The abnormal hemoglobin causes distorted (sickled) red blood cells. The sickled red blood cells are fragile and prone to rupture. When the number of red blood cells decreases from rupture (hemolysis), anemia is the result. Thus the name: sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia is one of the most common inherited blood disorders. The disease primarily affects Africans and African Americans however those of non-African descent may also inherit the disease.

Sickle Cell Trait
The condition in which a person has only one copy of the gene for sickle cell (and is called a sickle heterozygote) but does not have the disease known as sickle cell anemia. In order to actually have sickle cell anemia one must have two copies of the sickle cell gene. If two people with sickle cell trait have children together, each of their children has a 25 percent chance of having sickle cell disease. The trait is not the disease, it just means that the individual is a carrier of the gene for the disease and must be aware so when they choose to have a child they need to know if their partner also has the sickle cell trait.

Social Marketing
The use of marketing principles and techniques to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify or abandon a behavior for the benefit of individuals, groups or society as a whole.

Social Security Card
To claim an adopted child as a dependent for tax purposes, the child must have a social security number. If the child already has a number when he or she is adopted, the adoptive parents may either keep the same number or have a new number assigned. If the child is receiving Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income payments, or if the child has worked, the Social Security Administration will not assign a new number, but will update the child’s record. Adoptive parents will need to contact the Social Security Administration to be sure the number is registered correctly, reflecting them as the child’s parent.

Social Worker
A trained professional who counsels birth and adoptive parents regarding adoption and parenting. Also known as a caseworker

Special Needs
Refers to children who are physically, developmentally or emotionally disabled, or a sibling group and others who might remain in foster care should no adoptive family be available.

Special Needs Adoptions
Although states establish the criteria according to which children are classified as having special needs and, thus, are eligible for available benefits, the essential elements involved with state guidelines are derived from criteria set forth in the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (PL 96-266): There must exist a factor, such as minority membership, physical or psychological conditions, or membership in a sibling group, because of which the child could not be placed in an adoptive home without financial assistance.

Special Needs Children
he term Special Needs Children is out of date and should be known as Children with Special Needs. These are children who have emotional, physical or cognitive disabilities. Guidelines for classifying a child with special needs vary by state. Common special needs conditions and diagnoses include: serious medical conditions, emotional and behavioral disorders, history of abuse or neglect, medical or genetic risk due to familial mental illness or parental substance abuse.

Speech and Language Disorders
mpairments of speech or receptive language. Speech disorders usually involved difficulties with articulation, which can generally be improved or resolved with speech therapy, usually requiring treatment over months or years. Language disorders, on the other hand, often result in substantial learning problems, involving difficulty with language comprehension, expression, word-finding or speech discrimination. Treatment by a language therapist generally leads to improvement in functional communication skills, although treatment cannot be generally expected to eradicate the problem.

Speech Therapy
Focuses on receptive language, or the ability to understand words spoken, and expressive language, or the ability to use words to express oneself. It also deals with the mechanics of producing words, such as articulation, pitch, fluency, and volume. For children, it generally involves pursuing milestones that have been delayed. Some children only need help with language, others have the most problems with the mechanics of speech, and some need every kind of speech help there is. The professional in charge of a child’s speech therapy called a speech-language pathologist, speech therapist, or speech teacher will work to find fun activities to strengthen the child in areas of weakness. For mechanics, this might involve exercises to strengthen the tongue and lips, such as blowing on whistles or licking up Cheerios. For language, this might involve games to stimulate word retrieval, comprehension or conversation.

Spina Bifida
Spina bifida is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them. The neural tube forms early in the pregnancy and is supposed to close by the 28th day after conception. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the backbone. Depending upon when the diagnosis is made and the severity, surgery may be able to resolve the problem.

SSI
Acronym for Supplemental Security Income, a Federally funded needs-based disability program for adults and children which provides monthly cash benefits and, in most states, automatic Medicaid eligibility.

State Statutes
Are provisions enacted by State legislatures that regulate the way an issue is handled in that state. For the most part, adoption issues are subject to State laws and regulations, which may come either from state statutes or state case law (laws resulting from decisions of judges on court cases). State adoption statutes are included in the legal code of each state.

STD
Sexually transmitted disease (STD), or sexually transmitted infection (STI), is generally acquired by sexual contact. The organisms that cause STD OR STI may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids. Some such infections can also be transmitted non-sexually, such as from mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles. It's possible to contract sexually transmitted diseases from people who seem perfectly healthy — people who, in fact, aren't even aware of being infected. There are many different types of STD including Syphilis, Chlamydia, etc., that have different symptoms and treatment plans.

Stepparent Adoption
The adoption of a child by the new spouse of the biological parent.

Subsidy
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.

Substantiated
An investigation disposition concluding that the allegation of maltreatment or risk of maltreatment was supported or founded by state law or state policy.

Substitute Care
Any kind of care sanctioned by the court of jurisdiction in which the child does not live with the birth parent.

Supervised Provider
A Supervised Provider is any agency, person, or other non-governmental entity, including any foreign entity, regardless of whether it is called a facilitator, agent, attorney, or by any other name, that is providing one or more adoption services in a Convention case under the supervision and responsibility of an accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, or approved person that is acting as the primary provider in the case.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
A Federally funded needs-based disability program for adults and children which provides monthly cash benefits and, in most states, automatic Medicaid eligibility.

Surrender
The legal document signed by the biological mother and father allowing their child to be placed for adoption. (Also referred to as a consent or relinquishment.)

Surrogate Mother
A woman who carries another woman’s child by pre-arrangement or by legal contract.

System
Often referred to as "the public child welfare system" or “the system.” Refers to the network of governmental organizations providing a range of child welfare services.

Systems of Care
A system of care is a process of partnering an array of service agencies and families, working together to provide individualized care and supports designed to help children and families achieve safety, stability and permanency in their home and community.

Tax Credit (Adoption)
A tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from the adoptive parents’ tax liability: IRS Information page.

Temporary care
Is a provisional, safe place that a child may be staying at while a permanent placement is being sought after. This can include kinship care, relative placement, foster care, and placement in a care facility.

Terminal Illness
Terminal illness in advanced stage of a disease with an unfavorable prognosis and no known cure that will ultimately cause the person to die.

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

Tertiary Prevention
Treatment efforts geared to address situations where child maltreatment has already occurred with the goals of preventing child maltreatment from occurring in the future and of avoiding the harmful effects of child maltreatment.

Tertiary Prevention:

The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act
The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) was signed by President Obama on Monday, January 14, 2013. UAA applies the Hague Accreditation and Approval requirements to all agencies and persons providing “adoptions services” in cases where a child immigrates to or emigrates from the United States for purposes of adoption.

Therapeutic (or treatment) Foster Home
A foster home in which the foster parents have received special training to care for a wide variety of children and adolescents, usually those with significant emotional or behavioral problems. Parents in therapeutic foster homes are more closely supervised and assisted more than parents in regular foster homes

Title IV-E
The Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program is a federal program that provides assistance to families adopting qualifying children from foster care. Money through this program is distributed to adoptive families by each state.

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
Total care is a term referring to an individual who requires care in all areas of their life for the remainder of their life.

Tourette’s Syndrome
A treatable neurological disorder that consists of involuntary "tic" movements or vocalizations that become more apparent under stress. Common manifestations include shoulder-shrugging, neck-jerking, facial twitches, coughing, grunting, throat clearing, sniffing, snorting and barking. Children with Tourette’s often have problems with hyperactivity as well.

TPR
Acronym for Termination of Parental Rights, the legal process that involuntarily severs a parent’s rights to a child.

Traditional Adoption
Most often used to refer to a domestic infant adoption through an adoption agency in which confidentiality is preserved.

Transracial or Transcultural Adoption
The placement of a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group.

Treatment Foster Home
A foster home in which the foster parents are trained to offer treatment to children with moderate to severe emotional problems; also known as therapeutic foster home.

Tribal intervention
Tribal intervention in a child custody case occurs when a tribe acts on its right to participate in a child custody proceeding. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) states that “in any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child, the Indian custodian of the child and the Indian child’s tribe shall have a right to intervene at any point in the proceeding [italics added]” (USC Title 25, 1911.C.). This intervention can be wide in its interpretation: the tribe may request to transfer the case to tribal court (a “transfer of jurisdiction”) or the tribe may choose to only monitor the case through court records. Either the parent or the tribe can request transfer of jurisdiction. A tribe may intervene at any point in an Indian child custody proceeding.

UAA - The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act
UAA is the acronym for The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act that was signed by President Obama on Monday, January 14, 2013. UAA applies the Hague Accreditation and Approval requirements to all agencies and persons providing “adoptions services” in cases where a child immigrates to or emigrates from the United States for purposes of adoption.

Universal Prevention
Activities and services directed at the general public with the goal of stopping the occurrence of maltreatment before it starts. Also referred to as "primary prevention."

Unsubstantiated
An investigation disposition that determines that there is not sufficient evidence under State law or policy to conclude that the child has been maltreated or at risk of maltreatment. A CPS determination means that credible evidence does not exist that child abuse or neglect has occurred.

Verified Schedule
A court petition listing the facts within an agency adoption.

Visa
A document issued by the country (for a fee) allowing a person to enter its borders for a specific time and reason. In order to enter the U.S., the child will require an immigrant visa. This may be a piece of paper or a stamp in the child’s passport by the Embassy. Prior to issuing an immigrant visa for the child, a Department of State Consular Officer must conduct an investigation, called an I-604 Orphan Investigation. The purpose is: (1) to verify the orphan status of the child and (2) to ensure that the child does not have a medical condition that the adoptive parents don’t know about. As a part of the immigrant visa application process and I-604 Orphan Investigation, a U.S. approved foreign physician will examine the child. The child will enter the US on one of two kinds of IR ("Immediate Relative") Immigrant Visas: IR-3: The child was adopted overseas and (1) the adoptive parent (if single parent) or both parents (if married couple) saw/observed the child prior to the adoption and (2) the foreign adoption grants both adoptive parents and child the same rights, responsibilities, & privileges as would an adoption in the US. Children issued IR/HR-3 immigrant visas do not require re-adoption in the US under federal laws. IR-4: The child is coming to the United States for adoption. An IR/HR-4 is issued to a child when (1) the foreign country’s laws only permit the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of the child rather than to fully adopt the child in that country and/or (2) the prospective adoptive parent(s) did not see/observe the child prior to the foreign adoption. Children issued IR/HR-4 immigrant visas must be adopted or readopted after they enter the U.S. (Also see Re-Adopt.) Or… IH-3 and IH-4 visas: The visas are similar to the respective function of the IR-3 and IR-4 visa noted above. However, the “IH” is a classification of immediate relative under section 201(b) to a child who has been adopted in a foreign state, or a child who is emigrating from a foreign state to be adopted in t he United States, when the foreign state is a party to the Convention.

Visually Impaired
Visual impairment may mean very poor vision or any severe reduction in vision that cannot be corrected with standard glasses or contact lenses. Legal blindness (which is actually a severe visual impairment) refers to a best-corrected central vision of 20/200 or worse in the better eye or a visual acuity of better than 20/200 but with a visual field no greater than 20°. Total blindness is the inability to tell light from dark, or the total inability to see.

Voluntary Adoption Registry
A reunion registry system which allows adoptees, birth parents and biological siblings to locate each other if they wish by maintaining a voluntary list of adoptees and birth relatives.

Voluntary Termination of Rights
Situation where birth parents have chosen to legally relinquish their parental rights.

Waiting Children
Children who are waiting to be adopted. These are often children in the public child welfare system that cannot return to their birth homes and need permanent, loving families to help them grow up safe and secure.

Waiting Families
Families waiting to adopt a child.

Waiting List
Many years ago it was common to develop a list of prospective adoptive parents waiting to adopt a child. Today waiting lists are not typically used for adoption. Today adoption professionals take into consideration the preferences of the prospective adoptive parents, the expectant parents or birth family as well as considering what is in the best interests of the child. Often within infant adoption the birth parents will be the ones to select the adoptive family.

Waiting Period
Typically refers to the time period, which must lapse between birth and the time the consent to the adoption can be signed by the birth parents (varies from state to state).

Wraparound Services
This is a term used to describe a process by which service providers agree to collaborate to improve the lives of children, families and adults by creating, enhancing, and accessing a coordinated system of support through a strengths-based, client-driven model. An emphasis is placed on identifying and enhancing the client’s natural and informal supports, or to assist them in finding new informal supports. The client may be defined as an individual or as an entire family. Wraparound is specifically designed to address crisis concerns and keep an individual adult or child in their home and community. Examples of wraparound services include: respite services, intensive case management, drop in center or support group, other home or school based services.

Xenophobia
An irrational fear of foreigners or strangers.

Youthful Offenders
Yes Edit Delete Youthful Offenders A minor who is convicted of a crime. The age requirements vary by state, but a youthful offender generally is between 8 and 18. Many states have special youth offender programs that may offer such services as secure detention, home detention, observation and assessment, secure facilities, work camps, diversion services, community programs, and case management. Youthful offenders may have committed crimes that if committed by an adult would constitute a misdemeanor or a felony. Some commit acts that are illegal only due to their age, which may include: running away from home, continually skipping school, using tobacco and alcohol, violating curfew and acting beyond the control of their parents.


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