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5 Adoption Definitions and Terms You Should Know

What Does Adoption Mean to You?

The adoption process may be confusing at first, but it is rewarding once you get to hold your child in your arms for the first time.

Some of the adoption terms can be pretty technical. So, this guide will give you a basic rundown of five adoption definitions you should know to help make your adoption journey as smooth as possible.

If you would like to know how to adopt a baby in California, then you can contact us online now to get free adoption information now. For now, though, you can continue reading to learn some important adoption terminology.

The Adoption Definition for Adoptive Parents

Adoption is the path that adoptive parents take to start, grow or complete their family. Every person’s adoption story is different, and it can start from various situations, like:

Many adoptive parents describe their adoption as a gift.

Although some people choose adoption because it’s their only way to become parents, many others choose adoption as a way to provide a loving home for a child whose birth parents cannot provide one themselves. 

Adoption can be challenging, but it can also change adoptive parents’ lives in the best possible way. Their child is a daily reminder of the loving, selfless choice one birth mother made to give their child the best possible life.

You can read personal stories from American Adoptions' adoptive parents and see what the adoption definition means to them.

4 Adoption Definitions to Know

Just as there is no single definition of “adoption,” many other terms associated with the process may have many meanings to different people. Below are four other important adoption definitions and terms you should know:

“Adoptee” or “Adopted”

Being an adoptee or “getting adopted” refers to a child or adult who has legally been adopted by a family other than their biological parents’.

In other words, the term “adopted” means loved because the birth mother made the enduring decision to give their child a life they knew would be best for them.

Also, American Adoptions requires prospective adoptive parents to agree to some level of openness with the prospective birth mother. This is so that the love and healthy relationship can carry on throughout the child’s life.


Being an adoptive parent is an identity that many wear with pride and love. This term also helps distinguish between parents who gave birth and parents who have chosen to adopt.

Hopeful adoptive parents are people who are ready to give their full love and attention to a child once a prospective birth mother chooses them to raise their child.

“Adoption Professional”

That’s who we are! American Adoptions of California is a local affiliate of a national adoption agency. We work across the country to create families. That means our families experience better adoption opportunities and receive greater financial assistance throughout the process.

An adoption professional should be there for you every step of the way on your adoption journey, offering encouragement, helpful advice and resources to ensure your process is as simple as possible.

American Adoptions does just that. We can provide you with all the necessary resources and services for a successful infant adoption, such as:

“Adoption Disruption”

Though rare, an adoption disruption is the interruption of an adoption prior to finalization. Sometimes called a "failed adoption" or a "failed placement," this can happen for a variety of reasons. But, one of the most common examples is when a prospective birth mother decides they want to raise the child themselves.

If this is the case, then an adoptive family may have already invested considerable money into the adoption.

Fortunately, American Adoptions is respectful of the prospective birth mother’s choice and protects the financial investment of hopeful adoptive families. You never have to worry about losing significant amounts of money because of our Risk-Sharing Program.

There is an emotional loss when an adoption disruption occurs, but there doesn’t have to be a financial loss, too.


Adoption definitions may seem straightforward at first, but it’s important to remember that each term holds a special meaning for those involved in the process.

Adoption-related terms mean something different to everyone, but the adoption definitions in this article are a great place to start when you’re trying to understand more about the process.

If you have any further questions about how to define adoption and what the process is like, then you can contact us online today and get more free information now.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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