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- Infant/newborn/domestic: A child who is born in a country and who is adopted shortly after birth (within the same country).
- Transnational/Intercountry/International: A child who is born in one country and is adopted by a family who lives in another country. Often, the child is orphaned. For statistics and information about intercountry adoptions visit this website.
- Kin: Children adopted by a relative such as an aunt, uncle, sister, brother, grandparent, or other relative.
- Foster care: Children who are no longer able to be cared for by their primary caregiver(s) who are adopted by another family member.
- Stepparent: Children adopted by one parent’s spouse; the spouse agrees to take full responsibility for the child.
- Embryo: Families can adopt an embryo produced from the sperm and egg of one couple. Clinics and agencies help match donating families and recipient/adopting families.
- Surrogacy: A surrogate mother carries a fertilized egg in utero. After the birth of the child, the intended parent(s) adopt(s) the child.
- Adoption Triad: Birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child(ren).
- Disrupted Adoption: An adoption agreement that ends before finalization.
- Dissolution of Adoption: An adoption that ends after finalization.
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: A law that requires written notice and prior approval of the placement of a child for adoption or foster care from one state with a family in another state.
- 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).
- Reunification: The returning of foster children to the custody of their parent(s) after placement outside the home.
- Relinquishment/Termination of Parental Rights: The legal step necessary for parents to voluntarily or involuntarily have their parental rights terminated to allow their child to be adopted by adoptive parents; sometimes referred to as a surrender or as making an adoption plan for one’s child.
- Special Needs: Children with physical, behavioral, or mental impairments, children with siblings in need of adoption, and at-risk children.
Levels of Openness/Degrees of Contact
Table: Adoption terminology, accurate and inaccurate language
|Accurate Language ||Inaccurate Language |
|Birthparent, first parent ||Real parent, natural parent |
|My child ||Adopted child |
|Choosing an adoption plan ||Giving away/giving up your child |
|Finding a family to parent your child ||Putting your child up for adoption |
|Deciding to parent the child ||Keeping your baby |
|To parent ||To keep |
|Child in need of a family/parent ||Adoptable child; Available child |
|International or intercountry adoption ||Foreign adoption |
|Child who has special needs ||Handicapped child, hard to place |
|Child from another country ||Foreign child |
|Was adopted ||Is adopted |
- Adoption is a legal transfer of parental rights of a child
- There are many types of adoption and ways to build a family
- Families can negotiate how they wish to communicate after the adoption process is completed
- Using appropriate adoption terminology is very important