Adoption Glossary


Adoption is the process by which an adult becomes the legal parent of a child who is not biologically his or her own. There are many types of adoption, including international, independent, agency, identified, and relative.

Adoption Agency

An adoption agency is a corporation that helps place children with adoptive parents. The agency handles all financial, investigative, and legal aspects of the adoption, and it also conducts the home study of the prospective adoptive parents.

Adoptive Parent

An adoptive parent is an adult who becomes the legal parent of a child who is not biologically his or her own. The adoptive parent incurs all child support costs and obligations, while the child is granted inheritance rights.

Agency Adoption

An agency adoption places wards of the state-children who are in the foster care system-in permanent homes. Agency adoptions also allow expectant mothers or mothers who recently gave birth to place their children with families.

Home Study

A home study is an investigation of an adoptive parent's financial and marital status, criminal history, general lifestyle habits, and physical and mental health. It also serves as an informational session, allowing parents to learn more about the child whom they plan to adopt.

Identified Adoption

An identified adoption is an adoption in which birthparents and adoptive parents find one another on their own but finalize the adoption through an adoption agency.

Independent Adoption

An independent adoption places a child with an adoptive family without the intervention of an agency. However, an intermediary-such as a member of the clergy or a doctor-may be used, and an attorney is usually required to address all legal matters.

International Adoption

International adoption is an adoption in which adults adopt a child living in another country. This type of adoption requires parents to secure appropriate documents through the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, pay all costs (including travel costs), and comply with any and all regulations imposed by the child's native country.

Relative Adoption

A relative adoption refers to an adoption in which a child is related to his adoptive parents by blood (such as a grandparent) or marriage (such as a stepparent).

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