Adoption Glossary

EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE

Common Legal Adoption Terms

If you’re looking to adopt a child, it’s necessary to be familiar with some of the terms that may be involved in the adoption process. Read on to find out more!

ADOPTEE:

An adopted person.

ADOPTION AGENCY:

An organization, usually licensed by a state, and who provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and children  in need of families. Agencies may be public, or private, secular, or religious and in the state of Michigan must be non-profit.

ADOPTION ASSISTANCE/SUBSIDY:

Federal funds regulated by each state as a benefit and assistance in adopting special needs children. Monthly non-taxable payments are made to adoptive parents to assist in the day-to-day care of special needs children adopted from State Ward adoption systems. Payment is calculated on a daily rate, paid monthly, and is generally active until the child is 18 years of age. There are restrictions and qualifications and must be met for eligibility. The rate is based on the child’s needs not the economic status of the adoptive parents. Benefits can include: medical assistance, social service assistance, and reimbursement for non-recurring costs.

ADOPTION ATTORNEY:

A legal professional who has experience in adoption petition filing, processing, and final adoption proceedings in a court of jurisdiction.

ADOPTION EXCHANGE:

An organization which recruits adoptive families for children with special needs who are committed to the state for purposes of adoption. Exchanges use media, events and publications to raise awareness and attract adoptive parents to these children. In the state of Michigan: www.mare.org

ADOPTION FACILITATOR:

Individuals, agencies, adoption attorneys, whose main business is to connect birth parents with adoptive parents.

ADOPTION TAX CREDIT:

Non-refundable credit which reduces taxes owed by the adoptive parents who claim adoption expenses. There is a federal tax credit, and several states including Michigan, offer a state tax credit for adoption.

ADOPTION TRIAD:

Three major parties in an adoption: birth parents, child and adoptive parents; also called adoption triangle or adoption circle.

AGENCY ADOPTION:

In agency adoption, the parent releases the adoptee to a child placing agency, the child placing agency selects the perspective adoptive parents from amongst it applicants and consents to the adoption. In many child placing agency it is possible for the adoptee’s parent to participate in the selection of the perspective adoptive parents. The sharing of identifying information between the child’s parents and the adoptive parents is permitted, as well as an agreement for continued contact. Agencies can place a child with a perspective adoptive parents before formal placement through a temporary placement.

APOSTILLE:

A certification of public (notarized or true copy) documents required to complete an international dossier. Apostilled documents are required per the Hague Convention with countries operating international adoptions. Apostilled documents are considered authenticated, a step in the preparation of an international dossier for some countries.

BIRTH PARENT:

A child’s biological parent.

CONFIDENTIAL INTERMEDIARY:

State employees or trained adoption specialist, agencies, and courts who investigate and gain access to adoption records that have been previously sealed per the request of an appropriate party. All states have different rules governing the opening of adoption records. This process involves investigation and contact with all parties (birth parents, siblings and/or adoptee).

CONSENT TO ADOPTION:

Legal permission for an adoption to proceed. In a Direct Consent adoption the permission is granted by birth parents. In a state ward adoption, consent can be granted by the state, facility or court in which the child is considered a ward and is monitored.

DOSSIER:

A file of legal documents and necessary assessments and references that are required to complete an international adoption or assignment of guardianship in a foreign country.

DIRECT CONSENT (Direct Placement) ADOPTION:

Legal process through which a birth parent voluntarily agrees to make an adoption plan for their child with a specific family of their choice. Custody of the child is transferred directly from the birth parent to the adoptive family. The birth parent must choose the adoptive family from a “pool” of prospective approved adoptive parents. There are no waiting lists in a direct consent adoption process in the state of Michigan.

FINALIZATION:

The final step in the adoption process. May involve a court hearing which the judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child’s full legal parents.

HOME STUDY/ADOPTION PRE-PLACEMENT ASSESSMENT:

A process through which the prospective adoptive parents are investigated and evaluated to determine their suitability to adopt children.

INDEPENDENT ADOPTION:

An adoption that is arranged by the birth parent with an identified family; frequently facilitated by an attorney.

lNTERCOUNTRY AND INTERNNATIONAL ADOPTION:

The adoption of a child from another country, or from another state by a Michigan Family. Michigan Law permits courts to certify an adoption completed in another country so that a Michigan Birth Certificate can be issued for the child.

INSTERSTATE COMPACT:

A voluntary written agreement between two states regarding the placement of children for adoption or foster care across state lines.

LEGAL FATHER:

Father can be considered a legal father to a child if he has been identified as the father of a child and has established paternity or signed an affidavit of paternity, or is married to the birth mother at the time of conception or birth, or (some courts consider a status of legal) if he lives with the birth mother and has provided significant support during the time of pregnancy. It is possible that a legal father to a child is not the birth father.

OPEN ADOPTION:

An adoption that involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between the adoptive parents and the birth parents. Contact can range from letters and pictures to scheduled visits.

ORPHAN {International):

For immigration purposes, a child under the age of sixteen years whose parents have died or disappeared, who has been abandoned, whose sole surviving parent is impoverished by local standards and is unable to provide the child with proper care, and who has in writing, relinquished parental rights and irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.

PRE PLACEMENT ASSESSMENT:

Adoption home study

POST PLACEMENT SUPERVISION:

The range of counseling, or agency services provided to adoptive families post adoptive placement and prior to adoption finalization by a court. Social workers are required to submit in a specified time period a report detailing the adjustment of the adoption. These reports are submitted to a court of jurisdiction or to international programs to be forwarded to foreign countries where the adoption occurred.

PUTATIVE FATHER:

Legal term for alleged or supposed father of a child who is not married to the birth mother nor has filed an Affidavit of Paternity.

SAFE DELIVERY:

Safe Delivery allows parents to safely surrender their newborn child no more than 72 hours old to an employee who is inside and on duty at any hospital, fire department, police station, or by calling 911. This program is a safe, legal and anonymous alternative to abandonment or infanticide and releases the newborn for placement with an adopted family.

SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN:

Children whose emotional, physical, or psychological difficulties, age, sibling group, history of abuse, or other factors contribute to a placement outside the biological home.

STATE WARD ADOPTION:

Adoption of children currently placed in the child welfare system; foster care, residential, relative. These children enter the child welfare system due to abuse, neglect and/or abandonment by their birth parents. Birth parents parental rights are terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily by a court of jurisdiction and the child is committed to the state or court for the purpose of adoption.

VOLUNTARY RELEASE ADOPTION:

An adoption in which the birth parent releases their parental rights of their child voluntarily to an adoption agency for the purpose of adoption. They may or may not select the family. The child is required to be placed in foster care pending a placement order from a court of jurisdiction.

** Michigan Department of Human Services