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Adoption Choices of Arizona’s Adoption Glossary 

Adoption comes with its own jargon that can often become misinterpreted. Some adoption professionals and agencies define one term a little differently compared to another professional or agency.

Adoption Choices of Arizona has created the following adoption glossary below as a way to help educate those who are new in the world of adoption. The terms listed are the more basic and common terms. Remember that as you go through your adoption journey, never hesitate to ask for clarification.

Adoptee – A person who was adopted. Similar terms include “adopted person” or “adopted child.” 

Adoption – The act of transferring complete parental rights and obligations from one set of guardians/parents to another. A legal adoption requires action from the court.  

Adoption agency – A licensed organization that provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents and children awaiting adoption. These agencies range from private to public, for profit and non-profit, and many other characteristics. 

Adoption assistance – Payments, most commonly by the month, from federal funds or the state to help adoptive parents raise their children who have physical, mental or developmental disabilities. 

Adoption caseworker – A social worker or caseworker who is assigned to a client. They are responsible for aiding the birth family and/or adoptive family. 

Adoption match(ing) – The matching process is when a birth mother looks through profile books of potential adoptive families and chooses who she would like to raise her child. An adoption match indicates that an adoptive family has all of the birth parent’s wants and requirements. Profiles are provided either online or in person by your adoption professional or caseworker. 

Adoption professional – An umbrella term for an individual who assists birth mothers in regards to placing their baby for adoption. An adoption professional is also someone who aids in the process of adoptive parents choosing their adoption journey.

Adoptive parents – Person(s) who are legally granted parental rights and responsibilities of the adoptee.

Adoption triad – Also referred to as the “adoption triangle” and “adoption symbol,” the adoption triad consists of the three major parties in adoption: adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.

Birth parent – A child’s biological parent. This term refers to the parents who placed their baby for adoption. Birth parent is the gender neutral term to “birth mother” and “birth father.

Domestic adoption – This is a type of adoption in which the adoptive parents are placed with a child in the same country the parents reside. For example, a family living in the United States adopts a child who is also in the U.S.

Finalization – This is the legal and final step in adoption. A court hearing is involved, in which a judge grants custody of the adoptee to the adoptive parents. This is when the adoptee becomes the permanent and legally adoptive child to their new parents.

Home Study – The process through which potential adoptive parents are educated and evaluated in order to determine their suitability for adoption. 

Interracial/Transracial Adoption – In the adoption world, when a couple or individual adopts a child from a different race, ethnicity or culture, this is referred to as an interracial or transracial adoption.

Open adoption – This type of adoption involves some type of communication that is agreed upon by the birth parents and adoptive parents. This allows a relationship between the adoptee and their birth parents.

Post placement – This is the period after the adoptee has been placed in the adoptive parents’ care. In regards to infant adoption, this happens right after the birth mother gives birth. Post placement is before the finalization of the adoption.

Relinquishment – When a birth parent voluntarily gives up their parental rights. This is a legally binding and permanent procedure.

Reunion – A meeting between the adoptee and birth parent(s) after the finalization of adoption. Reunion is a term associated, traditionally, with a closed adoption. A reunion can also happen between adoptee and any other birth relative.

Semi-open adoption – Only non-identifying information is shared between all parties of the adoption. The birth parents and adoptive parents may only meet a couple of times. Common forms of contact include letter writing and picture sharing. 

Travel/Transportation – Arrangements made for a prospective adoptive family to meet with the child they plan to adopt, or with the child’s birth parents. Traveling indicates the potential adoptive family lives a large distance away. It also refers to the act of traveling taken when placement occurs. 

Adoption Choices of Arizona’s Adoption Glossary 

If adoption is new to you, you’ll be confronted with a whole slew of terms and phrases that are unfamiliar and may sound scary. It’s important to understand these terms and more so you know exactly how your adoption journey will work. 

Remember that not all adoption agencies will have the exact same meaning for some of these phrases. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and clarification when need be. We hope this glossary of important adoption terms helps you make sense of words and phrases used in adoption.

For adoption resources or to begin your adoption journey, birth parents can visit us at Adoption Choices of Arizona or call or text us at 1-480-900-5520. If you are an prospective adoptive family hoping to adopt a baby, please instead, visit us here!

Meet the author: Sarah Aguilera, a Northern Arizona University linguistics and creative writing graduate, is an aspiring author with a passion for influencing others through written words. She has a healthy ardor for all things literature and is often found with a book in her hands. 

When she’s not working, Sarah likes to spend her free time swimming, playing with her dog, going to concerts with friends and having crazy adventures with her family. Her love for her own family is what pushed her to join the adoption writing team. She looks forward to educating those hoping to grow their family through adoption.

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