Adoption Terms and Vocabulary: Part 2

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.

Adoption: The complete transfer of parental rights and obligations from one parent or set of parents to another. A legal adoption requires a court action.

 Adoption attorney: A lawyer who files, processes, and finalizes adoptions in court. In some states attorneys may also arrange adoptive placements.

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.

Adoption Tax Credit: Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it’s limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years.

 Adoption triad: The three major parties in an adoption: birth parents, adoptive parents and adopted child. Also called “adoption triangle” or “adoption circle.”

Closed adoption: An adoption that involves total confidentiality and sealed records. Birth families do not know the identity or meet the adoptive family, nor does the family know the name or identity of the birth mother or father.

Decree of adoption: A legal order that finalizes an adoption, handed down by the court.

Emergency placement: An adoption match that is made after the child has already been born. Also referred to as a “baby-born situation,” “hospital match,” or “stork-drop.”

Finalization: The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a court hearing, during which a judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents.

Legal guardian: A person who has legal responsibility for the care and management of a person (such as a minor child) who is incapable of administering his or her own affairs.

Legal risk placement: Placement of a child in a prospective adoptive family when the child is not yet legally free for adoption.

Open adoption: An adoption that involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families, ranging from sending letters through the agency to exchanging names and/or scheduling visits. Caseworkers from Christian Family Services review the variety of adoption with expectant families so they choose what is best for them and their circumstances.

Placement Fee: fees that are required of any family in domestic infant adoption. These fees help cover the services provided by the adoption agency as well as its essential operating procedures — things like staff, office space, paperwork and more.

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.

Reunion:   A meeting between an adopted person and birth parents or other birth relatives.

Semi-Open Adoption: An adoption in which a child’s birth parents and adoptive parents may meet once or twice, but exchange only non-identifying information.

Special-Needs Children: Children whom agencies consider difficult to place because of emotional or physical disorders, age, race, membership in a sibling group, history of abuse, or other factors.

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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