Common Terminology Related to Florida Adoptions & Florida Foster Care
Abandoned: A situation in which the parent or person having legal custody of a child, while being able, makes no provision for the child's support and makes little or no effort to communicate with the child, which situation is sufficient to evince an intent to reject parental responsibilities. If, in the opinion of the court, the efforts of such parent or person having legal custody of the child to support and communicate with the child are only marginal efforts that do not evince a settled purpose to assume all parental duties, the court may declare the child to be abandoned. In making this decision, the court may consider the conduct of a father towards the child's mother during her pregnancy.
Adoption – The act of creating the legal relationship between a parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parent(s) and their heir at law, entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parent(s).
Adoptee – a person who is legally placed with an adoptive family.
Adoption Agency – a licensed organization that provides services in which to place children with families or individuals who are approved for adoption by the proper authority.
Adoption Certificate / Decree – also known as the Certificate of Adoption, this is the document that is signed by the presiding Judge upon finalization of the adoption. This official document allows for a new birth certificate to be issued for the adopted child by the appropriate authority. This new birth certificate will reflect the child's new information (name, adoptive parents, etc.) and will replace the original birth certificate.
Adoption Plan: An arrangement made by a birth parent or other individual having a legal right to custody of a minor, born or to be born, with an adoption entity in furtherance of placing the minor for adoption.
Adult: A person who is not a minor.
Birthfather: any man that is the biological father of a child that is given up for adoption.
Birthmother: any woman that is the biological mother of a child that is given up for adoption.
Adoption Facilitator – a person or organization that assists prospective adoptive parents and/or adoption agencies in finding adoptable children. Not all facilitators are required to have a license - it is all dependent upon where they do business.
Adoptive Parent – an individual who is granted parental rights for a child through a proper legal channel.
Caseworker / Social Worker – individuals that assist birthparents and/or adoptive parents with their adoption process. They are responsible for many things throughout the process such as completing home studies and counseling.
Certification – the process used to legitimately authenticate official documents. This typically requires that a seal or apostille (see above term) be affixed to the document in the manner that is specifically required by law or regulation to confirm its authenticity.
Child: Any unmarried person under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated by court order.
Closed / Confidential Adoption – an adoption in which neither the adoptive parents nor the birthparents have any identifying information regarding each other.
Consent – Legal process through which a birth parent voluntarily agrees to make an adoption plan for their child with a specific family through an Independent Adoption.
Consent Form – the legal document signed by birthparents that terminates their parental rights over their child.
Designated/Identified Adoptions – Process in which birthparents choose the individual or couple who will adopt their child and designates the placement of the child while still having the benefits of an ` agency assisted adoption.
Foster Care – Temporary, substitute care service for a planned period of time for children whose own families are unable to care for them. Foster care must be viewed as an interim placement process to provide care for a child until he is reunited with his family or is provided with another type of living situation.
Home Study – the in-depth review prospective adoptive parents must go through to be able to legally adopt. A home study typically includes evaluations of the adoptive parents' relationship, inspections of their residence, parenting ideals, medical history, employment verification, financial status, and criminal background checks.
Open Adoption –An adoption process in which birth parents meet and know · the adoptive parent(s). Ongoing contact could range from periodic pictures and letters to regular visits.
Open Records – Accessibility to own adoption records by each member of the triad. This includes access to identifying information.
Parental Rights: all legal rights and corresponding legal obligations that come with being the legal parent of a child.
Post-Placement Supervision – Upon placement, a caseworker will be assigned to complete post-placement supervision of the adoptive family. The caseworker will visit the home several times during a set period of time (according to state requirements) to determine if adoption of the child was in the "best interests of the child."
Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) – An individual or family that wishes to adopt a child and is somewhere in the process (selecting an agency, completing their home study, etc.).
Relative: A person related by blood to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity.
Relinquishment – Legal process by which birth parents voluntarily terminate their parental rights in order to free their child for adoption through a licensed agency.
Special Needs Child – A child whose permanent custody has been awarded to the Department of Children and Families or a licensed child placing agency, and
- Who has established significant emotional ties with his foster parents; or
- Is not likely to be adopted because he is:
- Eight years of age or older
- Mentally retarded
- Physically or emotionally handicapped
- Of Black or racially parentage
- A member of a sibling group of any age, provided two are more members of the group remain together for purposes of adoption
Subsidy - Money payment or services (social, medical, or rehabilitate)
Termination of Parental Rights - when birthparents sign a consent form to terminate parental rights to their child. This ends all legal rights and responsibilities of the birthparents for that child.