Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Employer Assistance

Adoption benefits provided to employees by employers which may include direct cash assistance for adoption expenses, reimbursement of approved adoption expenses, paid or unpaid leave (beyond federal leave requirements established through the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993), and resource and referral services.

Extended Family

A child’s relatives (other than parents) such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, and sometimes even close friends.

Family Preservation

A program of supportive social services designed to keep families together by providing services to children and families in their home. It is based on the premise that birth families are the preferred means of providing family life for children.

Fetal Acohol Syndrome (FAS)

Birth defects and serious life-long mental and emotional impairments that may result from heavy maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Symptoms of mental and emotional deficits may include significant learning and behavioral disorders (including attention deficits and hyperactivity), diminished cause-and-effect thinking, poor social judgment, and impulsive behaviors.

Fetal alcohol effect (FAE)

A disorder associated with cognitive and behavioral difficulties in children whose birth mothers drank alcohol while pregnant. Symptoms are similar to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) but less severe or comprehensive.

Fictive Kin

People not related by birth or marriage who have an emotionally-significant relationship with an individual.


The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a court hearing during which the judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents.

Foster Adoption

A child placement in which birth parents’ rights have not yet been terminated by the court or in which birth parents are appealing the court’s decision but foster parents agree to adopt the child if/when parental rights are terminated. Social workers place the child with specially-trained foster-adopt parents who will work with the child during family reunification efforts but who will adopt the child if the child becomes available for adoption. The main reason for making such a placement, also called legal-risk adoption, is to spare the child another move.

Foster Children

Children who have been placed in the legal custody of the State or county because their birth parents were deemed abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unable to care for them.

Foster Parents

State- or county-licensed adults who provide a temporary home for children whose birth parents are unable to care for them.

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