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Adoption

What is Adoption Law?

Definition of Adoption Law

An adoption is when an adult legally assumes the role of a parent for a child. Adoptions happen for numerous reasons, such as when the child’s birth parents are unable or unwilling to care for their child, when the birth parents are deceased, or when one birth parent remarries a spouse who wishes to assume legal parental rights. Adoption can take place through a number of methods, ranging from adopting through an agency that places children with adoptive parents, adopting independently through an arrangement between the adoptive and birth parents, or adopting a child from another country.

Terms to Know

  • Birth parent – The genetic mother or father of a child
  • Confidential adoption – An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive parents never meet or exchange identifying information; also called a closed adoption
  • Foster parent – An adult who acts as a parent or guardian without legally adopting the child
  • Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption – An international treaty that governs how prospective adoptive parents can legally adopt children from other countries
  • Home study – A study of a prospective adoptive parent’s home in order to determine the household’s ability to properly care for and nurture an adopted child
  • Open adoption – An adoption in which the birth parents and the adoptive parents have contact with each other before and/or after the adoption becomes final; also called a cooperative adoption
  • Termination of parental rights – A legal process that permanently terminates a parent’s rights to care for his or her child