Adoption Glossary

A person who joins a family via adoption.

Adoption Decree 
The document issued by the court upon finalization of an adoption, stating that the adoptee is the legal child of the adoptive parents.

Adoptive Parent

Birth Parent
An apostille is a certificate issued by a designated authority in a country where a treaty called the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents applies. The Convention requires that all apostilles be numbered consecutively, with individual numbers applied to each apostille issued. Group or bulk numbers per customer rather than per document are not acceptable. Apostilles consist of 10 specific elements; a sample apostille can be found at Apostille Information
Adoption Triad
The three primary parties affected by an adoption: the birth parents, the child and the adoptive parent(s).
China Center of Adoption Affairs - the centralized committee in China responsible for the placement of children from China.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Closed Adoption
An adoption where there is no contact between birth parents and adoptive parents. Also called traditional adoption.
Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) is the Mexican government office of family (children, elderly, single moms) welfare and services.
Disruption v. Dissolution
In a disruption, a child leaves the adoptive home prior to the finalization of the adoption. This can occur in three situations: (1) the birth parents revoke their consent to the adoption; (2) the adoptive parents choose to return the child for reasons of their own; or (3) the agency disrupts the adoption if the adoptive parents are not complying with post placement requirements or are endangering the child in any way.
Definition from Hague Rules and Regulations: Disruption means the interruption of a placement for adoption during the post-placement period.
In dissolution, the adoptive parents have finalized the adoption and go through the process of "undoing" the legal adoption.
Definition from Hague Rules and Regulations: Dissolution means the termination of the adoptive parent(s)' parental rights after an adoption.
United States Department of State
The court hearing which results in the adoption decree. This is the moment when the adoptee becomes the permanent, legally adopted child of the adoptive parents. In Texas, this cannot occur less than 6 months after the adoption.
Foreign Dossier
Collection of legal documents providing information about prospective parent(s) to the foreign officials.
Foster Care
A temporary arrangement whereby persons other than the birth parents care for a child for a period of time. This can be informal or arranged through the courts or a social service agency.
Foster Adoption
A form of adoption where a child is placed into a home as a foster child, but, is eventually, legally adopted by the foster parents.
The Hague Convention
From USCIS Notice 8-26-2008: The Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) signed at The Hague, The Netherlands, on May 29, 1993 is a treaty that strengthens protections for children, birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents(s). It establishes internationally agreed upon rules and procedures for adoptions between countries that have a treaty relationship under the Hague Adoption Convention. It provides a framework for member countries to work together to ensure that children are provided with permanent, loving homes, that adoptions take place in the best interests of a child, and that the abduction, sale and trafficking in children is prevented. The President signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Adoption Convention on November 16, 2007, and the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008.
Home Study
A three-part process required before a child can be placed with a family for foster care or adoption: (1) Written portion includes autobiographies, references, medical reports, financial statements, child abuse and criminal clearances and other written materials; (2) Social work process includes a series of visits in the applicants' home to discuss a variety of issues from the applicant's background to their motivations to adopt and their understanding of adoption and parenting; (3) Educational process includes training in adoption and parenting issues. The end result of this process is a written document completed by a licensed agency giving a summary of the applicant's family life. This document indicates approval of the applicant for adoption (or foster care). It must be updated annually.
The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare is responsible for the process of inter-country adoptions of children from Colombia to other countries.
Intercountry Adoption
Intercountry adoption (or international adoption) involves children who were born in a country other than where the adoptive parents live. These adoptions are impacted by the laws of foreign countries and international treaties, and also require immigration approvals from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The Joint Council for International Children's Services (JCICS) is one of the oldest and largest membership associations of licensed non-profits international adoptions agencies, child advocacy groups, parent support groups and medical clinics. JCICS began its work over twenty-five years ago as a grassroots professional organization that provided a forum for agency directors to share and exchange information, ideas, and their visions of international adoption and child welfare.
Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
The ministry responsible for inter-country adoptions in Russia.
Ministry on Women's Affairs in Ethiopia- reviews the adoption files and writes an opinion regarding adoption cases including approval or objection.
The National Benefits Center ("NBC") is a national immigration office which processes immigration petitions from across the country, including I-129F (K-3 & K-4), I-765, I-131, and parts of I-485. NBC is located in Lee's Summit, MO USA, and housed in a large modern warehouse-style building of approximately 135,000 square feet consisting of conference rooms, work cubicles, file and staging areas, management offices and even a law library, spacious lunch hall and small gym.
National Council For Adoption has been a champion of adoption since its founding in 1980. Whether as an advocate for state laws that promote sound adoption policy, a resource for federal officials and policymakers about appropriate federal adoption initiatives and reform, a diplomat for sound international adoption policy, or a source of adoption facts and education, NCFA is devoted to serving the best interests of children through adoption.
Placement occurs when the child moves into the home of the adoptive parent(s).
If the child came to the U.S. on an IR4 visa (most of the time that type is issued when the child was not seen by both parents or by the single parent prior to his/her adoption), the adoptive parents must readopt the child in their home state.
If the adoptive parents finalized the adoption in the birth country and want a home state birth certificate, they will need to have the adoption recognizes by the court in their home state.
Relinquishment v. Abandonment
Relinquishment occurs when the biological parents surrender custodial and legal rights to a child. This is a legally binding, permanent procedure involving the signing of legal documents and court action.

Abandonment occurs when the biological parents "cast away, leave, or desert," a child with no intention of returning to claim rights.
Termination of Parental Rights
A process involving a court hearing whereby a judge enters a decree permanently ending all legal parental rights of a birth parent to a child. This must occur before a child is considered to be "legally free" for adoption.

To learn more about adopting from Gladney's International Adoption Programs, please request one of Gladney's free, comprehensive Adoption Information Packets. Make your request on-line or by calling 1-800-INT-ADOP.


Gladney Center for Adoption
6300 John Ryan Drive | Fort Worth, Texas 76132-4122

Headquarters: 817-922-6000   Pregnant?: 1-800-GLADNEY
International Adoptions: 1-800-INT-ADOP
Domestic Adoptions: 1-800-687-3097
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