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Heaven Sent

About us
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About Adoption
About Foster Care

Common terms in the world of adoption and foster care:

Adoption Certified - family/person who has completed a home study and been given the "stamp" of approval by the state to be an adoptive family.
Adoption Finalization - final court date in which the adoptive child's custody is "officially" changed over from his birthfamily (or the state) to his adoptive family. The birth certificate can be amended to state the adoptive parents names at this point.
Adoptive Family - the "forever"  (permanent) family of the adopted child.
AZEIP (Arizona Early Intervention Program) - division of the state that assesses and arranges interventions (therapies, etc.) for children under age 3 with developmental delays, disorders and risk factors (prematurity).
Birth Family - biological family of child
Birthparent Letter (also referred to as a "dear birthmother letter") - letter written to birthfamilies by prospective adoptive families regarding the adoptive family's desire to adopt. Usually includes general (not identifying) information about what the family is like, what they like to do, who they are, etc.) and is used in conjunction with a collection of pictures of the adoptive family.
Birthparent Placement - placement in which the birthparent (as opposed to a third party such as an adoption agency or the state) designates/decides the adoptive home of their child.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) - person appointed by the court to advocate for the foster child.
Case Manager - indivudual who works for CPS/DES who oversees the case (for foster care).
CMDP (Comprehensive Medical and Dental Plan) - Health insurance for foster children.
Closed Adoption - generally considered the traditional adoption of the past. In closed adoption, the adoptee and adoptive family have no contact or little to no information about the child's birthfamily (including names, medical history, etc.).
CPS/DES (Child Protective Services/Department of Economic Security)
DDD (Department of Developmental Disabilities) - division of the state that assesses and offeres services for individuals with developmental disabilities (including autism and other related illnesses).
Embryo "Snowflake" Adoption - adoption of frozen fetus originally obtained by IVF (in vitro fertilation) for implantation into the mother's uterus. A relatively new form of adoption in which frozen fetus' are adopted and then implanted into the adoptive mother's uterus.
Foster Care Review Board - Committee volunteers appointed by the court to review foster care cases and to make recommendations to the court based on it's findings. Usually are scheduled every 6 months.
Foster Certification - certification of family to do foster care, done by an agency licensed and contracted through the state.
Foster Family - temporary family that provides care for a child in foster care. Must be certified by the state.
Foster Placement - child(ren) placed by CPS/DES (or in some cases, by a birthparent) into a foster care licensed home.
Fingerprinting - process through which the state does a background check on all prospective foster and adoptive families. Fingerprints are taken and then sent for checks in national databases for criminal records, etc.

GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) - legal advocate for foster child.
Health Department Inspection - inspection done by the Arizona Department of Health on all foster homes every three years.
Home Study - Major part of the adoption certification process. Includes paperwork of questions prospective adoptive/foster family must answer regarding their childhoods, relationships, present financial and emotional status, etc. Also includes (usually) interviews with the family specialist (sometimes called "caseworker") who will be writing up the actual documents that go before the judge will be approving the certification for adoption/foster care.
International Adoption - adoption in which adoptee is adopted from a foreign country such as China, Russia, Korea, India, etc.
Licensing Agency - agency contracted by the state to provide homestudy services and represent prospective and licensed adoptive/foster families.
Lifebook - scrapbook/record of foster or adoptive child's journey from birthparent to forever family
Open Adoption - a "newer" type of adoption in which adoptee/adoptive family maintains contact with and has information about the birthfamily. There are several degrees of open adoption depending on the amount and type of contact between the adoptive and birthfamilies. Open adoption is believed by many to be more beneficial to the adoptee as they have access to the important and often changing medical history of their birthfamily as well as the ability to build relationships with their birthfamily.
Parent Aide - individual who works with the birthfamily in a foster care case. This person often coordinates visitation, therapies, etc.
Relative Placement/Adoption - adoption in which the foster child/adoptee is placed with an actual birthfamily relative.
Relinquishment - Process in which birthparents can "sign off" their parental rights willingly. Usually occurs in an adoptive situation.
Respite Care - services available to adoptive/foster families through their licensing agencies (usually). Paid for by subsidy.
Services - therapies, classes, transport and other resources provided by the state to birthfamilies, foster children/families and adoptive families (this includes but is not limited to: speech, occupational and physical therapy, counseling, parenting classes, drug abuse rehabiliation, transport to visits, etc.).
Severance - Process in which birthparent parental rights are removed from the foster child. In a foster care case, severance is accomplished after a long period of time through a court hearing (by bench or jury). See also "Relinquishment"
Subsidy - Monies and services available to foster and adoptive families.
Special Needs - Children who are considered "special needs" are generally anything that is not a "white, healthy infant." Qualifications for "special needs" are any of the following: over the age 5 years, sibling group, minority (any percentage), developmental delays, health issues (depending on severity - can be as "mild" as asthma), family history of mental illness, HIV risk, disorders, unwanted behaviors, etc. Children who are classified as "special needs" are eligible for extra services and subsidy in order to help cover the cost for therapies, medications, etc.

Don't see a term you're looking for or have a better definition of one here? Please, let us know!