Adoption Glossary

Adoptee – One who is adopted.


Adoption attorney – A lawyer with the expertise and experience that is necessary to properly understand and apply the State and Federal laws pertaining to adoption matters. The adoption attorney generally represents the couple seeking an adopted child and handles all of the legal aspects of the adoption.


Adoption agency – A licensed state agency that coordinates all of the legal aspects with the birth parents and adoptive parents to place the adopted child in a loving, stable home.


Adoption counselor – A licensed professional who counsels both birth parents and adoptive parents in the best care and well-being of the adopted child. The adoption counselor will match birth parents with prospective adoptive parents.


Adoption registry – Any parties of the Adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptee) can register with the Illinois Adoption Registry to authorize the release of information or to request identifying information. Non-identifying information is available to any adopted person (21 years of age or older) and adoptive parents, any adoptee older than 18 with written consent of the adoptive parents. Identifying information can be exchanged by mutual consent, requiring a signed release of information by the involved parties.


Adoption tax credit – You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child.


Adoption triad – The connection or relationship between the three parties involved in an adoption: the adoptee, adoptive parents and birth parents.


Adoptive parents – A loving couple who wishes to add to their family through adoption or have already adopted a child.


Birth parents – The biological mother and father of a child.


Custody – The protection, care and welfare of a child that is awarded by a court of law to adoptive parents.


Domestic adoption – The adoption of a child by adoptive parents who are both citizens and residents in the United States.


Identified adoption – In this type of adoption, the birth mother knowingly selects the potential adoptive parents.


Identifying Information – Pertinent information about birth parents, adoptive parents or an adopted child that discloses or could lead to the discovery of the identity of these individuals, such as last names, addresses, phone numbers, drivers’ license numbers, social security numbers or even birth dates.


Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) – DCFS is a social agency to protect children by strengthening and supporting families. From abuse and neglect hotline calls to family reunification, foster care and adoption, to the well-being of children and families in Illinois.


Interim care – Care in-between relinquishment and placement of a child with an adoptive family. Interim care is provided by a licensed St. Mary’s family. This is not considered Foster Care.


Home study – This process includes a series of interviews, a home visit and investigation into the medical, criminal, family and home background of the prospective adoptive parents. Additionally, if there are other individuals living in the home of the prospective adoptive family, they will be part of the home study report. The home study report is a mandatory piece in the adoption process and is used by the court to confirm the adoptive parents are qualified by Illinois State Law to become adoptive parents.


Legal-risk adoptions – Prospective adoptive parents can elect to become foster parents to a child before he/she is legally available for adoption. There is the possibility of adopting the child if the birth parents terminate their parental rights. If the birth parents do not terminate their rights, the prospective adoptive parents are not allowed to adopt the child. The foster parents/prospective adoptive parents knowingly accept the responsibility of the legal-risk adoption.


Matching – The process of connecting prospective birth parents with prospective adoptive parents.


Non-identifying information – Health and family background information that can be exchanged between the adoption triad individuals (birth parent, adoptive parent, adoptee) and does not include identifying information such as name, address, birth date, etc.


Open adoption – When the birth parent(s) and adoptive parents mutually agree to maintain contact with each other throughout the child’s life. Each open adoption is different. Identifying and non-identifying information can be shared depending on the agreement of the birth parents and the adoptive parents.


Parental Rights – All legal rights and obligations of being a parent including, but not limited to:

  • The legal and physical custody of the child
  • The care, well being and educating of the child in a safe living environment
  • The right to visitation


Placement – The point in time when the adoptive child comes to live with the adoptive family in their home.


Post-placement supervision – Adoption law requires monthly visits with adoptive parents’ caseworkers during the time a child is placed in the home of the prospective adoptive parents and the time the child’s adoption is finalized in court. The number of visits, which usually lasts between 6 and 12 months time, is determined by the state’s adoption requirements.


Profile – A compilation of the prospective adoptive family’s photos, family history, etc. into a scrapbook for prospective birth parents to see to help in choosing an adoptive family.


Putative Father Registry – A public registry, required by most states, allows an unmarried man who believes he is the father of a child to register with the Putative Father Registry. In order to register, the alleged father must agree to be financially responsible for the care of the child. This registry gives the alleged father the parental right to object to the placement of the child for adoption as long as he meets his state’s adoption requirements.


Referral – A link to a social service agency to help with some need, for example, clothing needs, medical help, rent assistance, etc.


Surrender papers – The legal documents surrendering all parental rights to a child that is completed by the birth parent(s).

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