Birth Mother Blog Putting baby up for adoption

What Are Some Adoption Terms and What Do They Mean? 

By Shaina Santagata

Embarking on the adoption journey as a birth mother involves navigating a challenging time that can be overwhelming. At Adoption Choices of Missouri, we understand the importance of clear communication and respectful language throughout this experience.

Learning adoption terminology opens doors to making informed and confident decisions for you and your baby. Together, we can dive into the essential adoption terms that every birth mother should know. Whether you are considering adoption, currently in the process, or exploring post-placement options, this glossary will be a valuable resource.

Understanding adoption terms will empower you to communicate effectively with adoption professionals and navigate the adoption process with confidence as you go through this life-changing journey. Let’s explore the language of adoption together, ensuring that you have the knowledge and tools to make the best choices for yourself and your child.

Birth Mother and Birth Father:

A birth mother is the biological mother of the child who is placing the child for adoption. The birth father is the biological father of the child. Both birth parents can play key roles in the adoption process. Their rights and involvement are based on individual circumstances and state laws.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): 

ICPC is a legal agreement among all fifty states (including the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia) regulating children’s placements across state lines in foster care and adoption. This ensures that placements comply with the laws of both the sending and receiving states.


Relinquishment is the voluntary termination of parental rights by the birth parents, allowing the child to be legally adopted by another family. This process typically involves legal procedures and varies by state.

Adoption Etiquette:

Adoption Etiquette refers to having respectful and sensitive behavior and communication practices when discussing adoption-related topics or interacting with adoptive families, birth parents, and adopted children.

Open Adoption:

With open adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents have ongoing contact and share varying degrees of identifying information. Openness can include letters, pictures, visits, and more, depending on the preferences of those involved.

Semi-Open Adoption:

Semi-open adoption involves some communication and interaction between the birth parents and the adoptive family. Contact is facilitated through a mediator such as the adoption agency. This type of adoption allows for updates and information sharing while still maintaining some privacy and boundaries.

Closed Adoption:

A closed adoption occurs when the birth mother decides to have no communication with her child once the adoption process is finalized. Any identifying information is typically sealed.


Post-placement refers to the period after a child is placed with the adoptive family but before the adoption is finalized. During this time, social workers may conduct follow-up visits and provide support to ensure the well-being of all involved.

Adoption Agency:

An adoption agency is a licensed and specialized organization that enables adoptions, providing counseling, home studies, matching (between birth parents and adoptive families), and legal support for all involved.

Adoption Process:

The adoption process involves steps such as home studies, legal procedures, matching, and finalization. Agencies like Adoption Choices of Missouri help guide families through these steps with care and expertise.

Adoption Plan:

An adoption plan is a personalized outline created by the birth mother outlining her preferences for the adoption. This includes the type of adoptive family, level of openness, and post-placement communication.

Adoption Support Services:

Adoption support services include counseling, support groups, and resources. These are offered to birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptive individuals to address emotional, financial, and practical needs related to adoption.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR):

Termination of parental rights (TPR) consists of a legal process that will permanently end the legal parent-child relationship. This step is necessary for the child to be legally adopted by another family.

Adoption Profile:

An adoption profile is a document or presentation created by prospective adoptive parents to introduce themselves to birth parents. It typically includes photos, written descriptions, and information about their lifestyle, values, and parenting approaches.

Home Study:

A home study is an assessment completed by a licensed social worker. The social worker evaluates the prospective adoptive family’s suitability and readiness to adopt. This is when interviews are conducted, background checks are completed and verified, and home visits are conducted.

Unplanned Pregnancy:

An unplanned pregnancy refers to a pregnancy that occurs when it is not intended or expected. Adoption is one of the options available to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Local Adoption Agency:

A local adoption agency operates within a specific area and provides adoption services to families and birth parents within that region.

Adoptive family:

An adoptive family has welcomed a child into their home through the process of adoption. This family is legally the child’s new family and is there to provide love, care, and support just like the biological parents would. These families are made of individuals who have chosen a child to create a lifelong bond beyond biology.

Birth Plan:

A birth plan is a document that a birth mother creates to outline her preferences and wishes regarding her labor, delivery, and postpartum care during childbirth. Birth plans communicate the information to healthcare providers and adoption agencies in Missouri (if she is considering adoption for her baby), and they ensure that the birthing experience aligns with the birth mother’s desires and values as much as possible.

Adoption Disruption:

Adoption disruption refers to interrupting or halting the adoption process before it is legally finalized. This can occur for various reasons, such as changes in circumstances for either the birth parents or the adoptive family or challenges that arise during the post-placement period. This can be emotionally difficult for all parties involved and may require additional support and guidance from adoption agencies and their adoption professionals.

Addressing the Adoption Process with Adoption Choices of Missouri

At Adoption Choices of Missouri, we believe in empowering birth mothers with knowledge and support throughout the adoption journey. If you are considering adoption and seeking guidance, contact us today! We have helped hundreds of birth mother’s just like you. Let us help you create a personalized adoption plan that meets your needs and honors your choices. Our compassionate team is here to support you every step of the way!