Adoptive Placement: The point at which a child begins to live with the prospective adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized.
Certification: The approval process that takes place to ensure, insofar as possible, that adoptive or foster parents are suitable, dependable, and responsible.
Finalization: The final legal step in the adoption process; this involves a court hearing during which the judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents.
Home Study: A process through which prospective adoptive parents are educated about adoption and evaluated to determine their suitability to adopt.
IEP: Abbreviation for Individualized Education Plan, which is a plan for educational support services and outcomes developed for students enrolled in special education programs.
Legal Risk Placement: Placement of a child in a prospective adoptive family when a child is not yet legally free for adoption. Before another family may legally adopt a child, the parental rights of his or her birth parents must be terminated. In a “legal risk” adoptive placement, either this termination of parental rights has not yet occurred, or it is being contested. In some cased, termination of parental rights is delayed until a specific adoptive family has been identified.
Legally Free: A child whose birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated so that the child is “free” to be adopted by another family.
Respite Care: Temporary or short-term home care of a child provided for pay or on a voluntary basis by adults other than thte parents (birth, foster, or adoptive parents).
Special Needs Children: Children whose emotional or physical disorders, age, race, membership in a sibling group, a history of abuse, or other factors contribute to a lengthy stay in foster care. Guidelines for classifying a child as special needs vary by State. Common special needs conditions and diagnoses include:
- Serious medical conditions
- Emotional and behavioral disorders
- History of abuse or neglect
- Medical or genetic risk due to familial mental illness or parental substance abuse
Waiting Children: Children in the public child welfare system who cannot return to their birth homes and need permanent, loving families to help them grow up safe and secure.