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Adoption FAQ & Glossary

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions & a Glossary of terms relating to adoption. We hope they help familiarize you with adoption and increase your level of comfort with the process!

FAQs - 

  1. Can Birth parents show up anytime to reclaim their children?

    • No. Once the relinquishments/ termination are legally binding the birth parents cannot change their mind.

  2. Is Domestic Open Adoption confusing for children?

    • No. Adoptees are not confused by contact with their birth parents. They benefit from the increased understanding that their birth parents gave them life but their adoptive families are forever.

  3. Are adopted children are more likely to be troubled than birth children?

    • No. Research shows that adoptees are as well-adjusted as their non-adopted peers. There is virtually no difference in psychological functioning.

  4. Do birth moms ever show up unannounced?

    • No. This only happens on T.V. Would you drop in unannounced? No, and your birth mom won’t either.

  5. Who are birth moms?

    • Most of our birth parents are in their early 20s, often single and parenting other children and/or pursuing jobs or higher education. It generally takes a lot of maturity - and of course courage - to make the adoption decision because they want better lives for their children. That being said, we work with women of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and situations.

  6. Should I wait to tell my child they are adopted?

    • NO. Start telling your child their adoption story from day one, so when their understanding catches up, you have already perfected the words. Otherwise, children may wonder what else you haven’t told them or feel unnecessary guilt or shame.

Glossary of Adoption Terminology - 

  • Adoption “triangle” or “triad” - The relationships among adopted children, their birth parents, and their adoptive parents.

  • Apostille - An apostille or state certification is a document signed by the Secretary of State of the state where the documents originate, attesting that the individual who notarized the document is a notary in good standing in the state where the notary commission was issued.

  • At-risk placement - The placement of a child into the prospective adoptive family before the birth parents’ rights have been legally extinguished.

  • Certified copy - A true copy of an official documents that is indicated to be ‘certified’.

  • Designated adoption or identified adoption - An adoption in which the birth parent(s) choose(s) the adoptive parent(s) for the child.

  • Domestic adoption - The adoption of a child born in the United States.

  • Dossier - A collection of required documents that is sent to a foreign country in order to process the adoption of a child in that country’s legal system.

  • Exit medical - Required by the USCIS. The results of the medical must be presented to the U.S. Embassy before your interview to receive your child’s exit visa.

  • Facilitator - A person or organization that arranges domestic adoptions.

  • Finalization - The adoption becomes permanent and binding.

  • Form I-600 - Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

  • Form I-600A - Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition.

  • Form I-171H - Notice of Favorable Determination.

  • Form I-197C - Noticed of Favorable Determination. The electronic version of the I-171H and serves the same purpose.

  • Form 1824 - Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition.

  • Form 1864 - Affidavit of Support.

  • Form N400 - Application for Naturalization. This is the form you will complete if your child came on an IR4 visa.

  • Form N600 - Application for Certification of Citizenship.

  • Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption - A multinational agreement designed to promote the uniformity and efficiency of international adoptions.

  • Home study - A study of the prospective adoptive family and their home. Approval to adopt.

  • Home Study Agency - The licensed agency in your state of residence that will provide you with a home study, training and post placement services.

  • Inter-country or international adoption - The adoption of a child from a country outside of the U.S.

  • IR3 Visa - The child’s adoption was completed overseas and that the adoptive parents are the sole guardians of the child.

  • IR4 Visa - This means that the adoption was NOT finalized overseas and the adoptive parents will need to have a formal hearing in the appropriate court in their state of residence to finalize the child’s adoption.

  • Open adoption - An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive parents have contact with each other before and/or after the placement of the adopted child.

  • Placing Agency or International agency - The agency that is accredited/licensed in the overseas country.

  • Post adoption services - A service provided after the adoption is finalized.

  • Post placement services - A variety of services provided after the child is physically placed with the prospective adoptive family, though the adoption is not yet finalized.

  • Special needs child - A child with medical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or educational needs that could require extra on-going attention.

  • Termination of parental rights (TPR) - The process by which a parent’s rights are legally and permanently terminated, after which the child becomes eligible for adoption.

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau (USCIS or CIS) - An agency of the federal government that approves an adopted child’s immigration into the United States and grants U.S.> citizenship to children adopted from other countries.

    *Note - Many of the items in this glossary are adapted from

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