Adoption Terms and Vocabulary: Part 1

Putting your baby up for adoption, or adopting a baby or a child can be a confusing and stressful time. There are many documents to fill out and caseworkers and judges throwing out adoption terms that you are just not familiar with. We at Christian Family Services want to relive some of that stress by giving you the most up to date adoption terms and their definitions. Though these may not be all the terms, they are the ones you will hear the most often.

Adoptee: A person who was adopted. Some people prefer the terms “adopted child” or “adopted person.”

 Adoption agency: An organization, usually licensed by the state, which provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents and children who need families. Agencies may be public or private, secular or religious, for profit or nonprofit.

Adoption Counselor: a caseworker provided by an adoption agency/attorney to meet with expectant families to consider options for their pregnancy or child. Christian Family Services provides such guidance to expectant women and men, so they have the information needed to decide to parent or place their child with an adoptive family.

Adoption plan: A decision made by an expectant parent to allow their child to be placed for adoption. In Florida, expectant parents may only work with one agency/attorney at a time.

Birth parent: A child’s biological parent who has signed their consent to place their child for adoption. A pregnant woman who is considering adoption should not be called a “birth mother,” even if she has indicated her intent to place the child for adoption, until a placement has occurred. Also,   Birth Mother and Birth Father

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

Consent to adopt or consent to adoption: A birth parent’s legal permission for the adoption to proceed. In Florida, an expectant mother cannot sign consents until 48 hours following delivery or 72 hours after a C-section.

Expectant mother: A woman who is pregnant and considering adoption for her unborn child.

Home Study: A written description of an adoptive family, your strengths and weaknesses, dreams and fears, hopes and expectations. It is written by your caseworker after interviews with you and a visit to your home. Your worker evaluates such considerations as: is there adequate space in your home for a child can you financially support a child, and how strong are your parenting skills? The study includes photos of you, medical reports by your physician, criminal background checks, and autobiographies written by you. The home study is a valuable learning process for adoptive applicants and their worker. As a Home Study is written, caseworkers confirm the adoptive family is fit to parent. A Home Study validates the family and reassures an expectant Florida woman the family “Is” who they say they are.

LIFE/Profile Book: Collection of photos, stories, etc. that tell the story of the life of a child. Helping a child assemble his book results in a better sense of self and identity for that child, including birth history (if known), adoption, information and family life.

Placement: The point at which a child begins to live with prospective adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized. Families sign placement paperwork only after the birth family has relinquished her/their consent.

Post-placement supervision: The range of counseling and agency services provided to the adoptive family after the child’s placement and before the adoption is finalized in court.

Relative/Kinship Adoption: In Florida, relatives may adopt a child they are related to, depending on the relationship to the birth mother/father (parent, grandparent, uncle/aunt, or cousin).

Relinquishment: Voluntary termination of parental rights. Some prefer the phrase “making an adoption plan.”

Revocation: The legally specified period in which a mother who has consented to adoption may revoke that consent and regain custody of her child. The revocation period varies from state to state—in some, parental rights are terminated upon relinquishment and there is no revocation period, in others, the revocation period is 30 days. In Florida, birth families whose child is less than 6 months old when the consent paperwork was signed cannot revoke consent unless they can prove the adoption consent was done under duress. Expectant families with a child over 6 months old have a 3-day revocation period. Safe Haven laws allow 30 days revocation.

Support to expectant mothers: Christian Family Services provides financial support to women considering adoption for their child. This may include transportation, phone, living expenses. The state of Florida regulates support related to adoption.

Transracial Adoption: An adoption in which the child and the adoptive parent(s) are not of the same race.

We hope that these details will come in handy and help you with your adoption. If you have any more questions, the Caseworkers at CFS are here to help you navigate the adoption process or provide the resources needed to make this stressful time a little easier.


We are ready to answer your call or text to discuss judgment free options with you, and hear your concerns, fears, guilt, and anger about your situation. Consider your options for your unplanned pregnancy. Call or text 24/7 to speak to a caseworker.

Call: 800-226-2367

Text: 352-600-2138

UNDERSTANDING POSITIVE ADOPTION LANGUAGE: Blog posts of Christian Family Services are written using words people search for if they are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. To reach women and provide options to them, we use language our SEO agency suggests, not the positive adoption language we prefer to use! We consider women making an adoption plan as wanting to place her child with an adoptive family, but many times she first uses words like “give my baby up” for adoption.

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