3.14.2007

Adoption Vocabulary

Approval is the point that an adoptive couple reaches after going to many meetings, paying a fee, completing a whole slue of forms, meeting with a caseworker for a variety of interviews, and having a home visit. It usually takes 4-6 months to complete. Being approved means that you are now officially available as a couple to adopt. LDS Family Services puts your profile on the website and birth mothers can start looking at your profile. Approval is a big step, but it is just the beginning. Technically a couple can be chosen by a birth mother any time after being approved, but the average wait time is two to four years.
 
A face-to-face meeting is between the birth mother (or birth families) and the adoptive couple. A face-to-face meeting allows the birth families to get a feel for you as a couple beyond what you look like on paper.
 
Placement happens after the adoptive couple has been chosen by a birth mother, the baby has been born, and the relinquishment documents have been signed (48-hours after birth). The couple can then take the baby home and get down to the business of raising him/her. However, the baby is still technically a ward of the state. Over the next six months the adoptive couple will have follow-up interviews and home visits to make sure that parents and child are bonding and that it is a good situation.
 
Finalization occurs at the end of the six-month trial period. The adoptive couple appears at court, the caseworker testifies in their behalf, and the judge states that the baby is lawfully and legally a member of the adoptive family. After finalization you can order birth certificates and take your baby to the temple to be sealed.
 
The birth family is the child’s biological family. It does not just include the birth mother and birth father, but their parents and siblings as well.
 
A child who joins a family through adoption was adopted, not is adopted.  Adoption will always be an important part of their life, which they can be proud of, but is not a definition of who they are.  Much like one does not say, "I am born."
 
A birthparent places their child for adoption.  They do not give up their child for adoption.  You may think the difference subtle, however "give up" implies a passive surrender or abandonment whereas "place" is an intentional action.  The decision to place a child in an adoptive family is one the hardest and most selfless decisions a birthparent will ever make.  It is done only after much soul searching, introspection, prayer, and tears.  The final decision to place a child for adoption is a sacrifice on the part of the birth parent who is putting the well being of their child before their own, very much the opposite of "giving up".