Adoption agencies in Missouri Birth Mother Blog

Important Adoption Terms for Birth Mothers to Know

Important Adoption Terms for Birth Mothers to Know

By Katy Reagan

If you are searching for how to give a baby up for adoption, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by just a quick Google search. You’re trying to learn about the adoption process, but the terms used are just making you more confused. We don’t want you to get discouraged. We don’t expect you to know everything right now because you’re so new to the adoption world. You might not even be sure adoption is right for you. Whatever your situation, we’re here to help. We at Adoption Choices of Missouri will walk you through the entire process. 

Finding the right terms for the adoption process

The language we use matters. It is important to understand adoption terminology so you can know all of your options and your rights as a birth mother. We want everything to be as clear as possible so you can make the best decision for you and your baby. 

Here is a glossary of adoption terms for you to know. Although this isn’t a complete list, we will continue to teach you everything you need to know.

Glossary of adoption terms


The legal transfer of parental rights from biological parents to someone else. 

Adoption agencies

Licensed organizations that provide services and support to birth parents, adoptive families, and children being adopted. 

Adoption plan

The decision to place a child for adoption and agreements for how it will be executed.

Adoption process

Includes pregnancy, birth, placement of the child in the adoptive home, and the time after an adoption is finalized. After adoption, Adoption Choices of Missouri continues to provide support services like counseling to birth mothers.

Adoptive family/parent

The parents and/or family that are adopting your child.

Adoptive family profiles

These provide information on the possible adoptive families you can choose from. You can decide based on what’s important to you, like location, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Adoptive match

When a birth mother chooses an adoptive family profile and the family agrees.

Birth father

The biological father of the child being adopted

Birth mother

The person who is pregnant with the child and placing them for adoption

Birth Parent Counselor

The adoption specialist assigned by Adoption Choices of Missouri to work with you. They will be your advocate and walk with you through the adoption process.

Closed adoption

Zero communication between the birth mother, adoptive family, and child. Identities will not be shared, and the birth mother will not be given updates on the child.

Decree of Adoption

The finalization of adoption through a legal order.

Expectant mother

The woman who is pregnant is considering adoption. This may be an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy.

Hospital birth plan

A plan created by the birth mother and Birth Parent Counselor outlines what the birth mother wants during birth, like who can see the child and who can be with her.

ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children)

A law regulating adoption between states, creating uniform administrative and legal procedures.

Open adoption

Full communication between the birth mother, adoptive family, and child. The birth mother will stay in contact with the adoptive family and their child, receiving updates on them. 

Presumed father

A man married to the birth mother or who has been divorced from her within 300 days of the birth.

Private adoption

When a birth parent voluntarily puts their child up for adoption. Private Missouri adoption agencies like Adoption Choices of Missouri give the birth parent control over where the child is placed.

Public adoption

When the state takes custody of the child, placing them in foster care without input from the birth parent.

Putative father

A man who is not married to the birth mother but legally claims the child as his.


The voluntary termination of parental rights.


The period in which birth mothers can revoke the termination of parental rights and claim their child. 

Semi-open adoption

Indirect communication between the birth mother, adoptive family, and child. Identities are usually not given, but they communicate through a third party. Adoption Choices of Missouri uses their confidential line ChildConnect.

Importance of positive adoption language in the adoption process

Adoption terms are also important for how you view adoption. Outdated and negative terminology gives you a negative outlook on adoption. In reality, adoption is an amazing choice that places your child in a loving and safe home. Through adoption, people who are unable to have children can become parents. Adoption brings new families together, so using positive adoption language reflects that.

An example of this is using the term “placing a child for adoption” instead of “giving up a child.” You are not giving up anyone or anything. You are creating the best life for your child. Even so, it can be hard to change the way we speak. We may even still use terms like these sometimes, but it is important to stay up to date. 

If you are a birth mother looking to learn about the adoption process and its terminology, we can help. Adoption Choices of Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond. Please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll-free at 877-903-4488 or, in Missouri, call or text us at 816-527-9800.