Do you know what an “adoption decree” is? How about “an independent adoption”? And while we’re at it, what’s a “lifebook”?

Never heard of them? Don’t worry, most people who begin the adoption process don’t, either. Adoption comes with its own set of terms and definitions. Here are some of the more common ones you’ll need to know.

Adoptee: person who has been adopted.
Adoption: a legal and social process involving the transfer of parental rights from a child’s birth parents to his adoptive parents.
Adoption Agency: state-licensed organization that facilitates the placing of children with prospective adoptive individuals or families.
Adoption Agreement: document signed by birth parents and adoptive parents that outlines the frequency and level of contact between them after the adoption takes place.
Adoption Decree: court document issued to the adoptive parents after an adoption has been finalized.
Adoption Facilitator: individual who helps match prospective birth parents and adoptive parents.
Adoption Match: process in which adoptive parents connect with prospective parent(s).
Adoption Plan: legally non-binding arrangement between birth parents and adoptive parents regarding the placement and rearing of their child. Adoption Records: legal documents pertaining to an adoption.
Adoptive Parent: person who legally assumes responsibilities of parenting an adopted child Adoption Profile: autobiographical letter created by hopeful adoptive parents for prospective birthparents.
Adoption Professional: individual providing adoption services.
Adoption Triad: three parties involved in an adoption relationship — birthparents, adoptees and adoptive parents.
Amended Birth Certificate: birth certificate issued to the adoptive parents after an adoption is finalized.
Biracial: person whose parents are of different races. Birthfather: biological father of the child placed for adoption.
Birthmother: biological mother of the child placed for adoption.
Closed Adoption: adoption in which the adoptive parents and the birth parents have no identifying information about each other or ongoing contact.
Consent Form: legal document signed by birth parents that terminates their rights over their child and transfer them to the adoptive parents
Criminal Clearance: process used by police or FBI to determine whether the waiting parent has a criminal record.
Disrupted Adoption: adoption that fails before finalization.
Facilitator: individuals who helps match prospective birth parents and adoptive parents Finalization: legal procedure granting the adoptive parent(s) permission to adopt.
Foster Care: temporary placement of a child. Home Study: process carried out by an adoption worker that assesses and prepares prospective adoptive parents for an adoption placement.
Hopeful Adoptive Parents: individuals or couple that has been approved to adopt but have not had a child placed with them.
Identifying Information: information about adoptive parents or birth parents such as full names and addresses.
Independent Adoption: any adoption not overseen by an agency.
Infertility: inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. International Adoption: also known as intercountry adoption, refers to any adoption from another country.
Lifebook: a scrapbook that tells a child’s pre-adoptive story through words, pictures and memorabilia
Networking: outreach efforts by waiting parents to spread the word about their desire to adopt.
Open Adoption: adoption where birthparents and adoptive parents exchange identifying information and keep in touch after the adoption.
Open Records: accessibility to adoption records. Placement: relocation of a child into a foster or adoptive home.
Private Adoption: adoption arranged through a privately-funded licensed agency.
Private Adoption Agency: non-government stage-licensed agency that arrange adoptions.
Public Adoption: adoption arranged through a publicly funded agency.
Public Adoption Agency: government agency that arranges adoptions.
Special Needs Child: child who may be physically, mentally and emotionally challenged.
Relinquishment Papers: legal documents that terminate birth parents legal rights to their child and transfers them to the adoptive parent(s).
Waiting Parent: another term for hopeful adoptive parents.