Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Post-placement Supervision

The range of counseling and agency services provided to the adopted parents and adopted child subsequent to the child’s adoptive placement and before the adoption is legally finalized in court. Social worker reports of this required supervisory period are forwarded to the court.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A condition in which victims of overwhelming and uncontrollable experiences are subsequently psychologically affected by feelings of intense fear, loss of safety, loss of control, helplessness, and extreme vulnerability and in children the disorder involves disorganized or agitated behavior.

Prenatal Substance Exposure

Fetal exposure to maternal drug and alcohol use which can significantly increase the risk for developmental and neurological disabilities. The effects can range from minor (resulting in normal outcomes) to severe (neurological damage and growth retardation). Infant and child long-term development depends not only on the prenatal exposure (type of drug, amount, length of time of use), but on factors related to the child’s own biological vulnerability and environmental conditions.

Psychological Parent

A person, though perhaps not biologically related to a child, whom the child considers as his parent; sometimes called a “de facto” parent. Putative Generally regarded to be true.

Putative Father

Legal term for the alleged or supposed father of a child.

Reactive Attachment Disorder

A condition with onset before age five, resulting from an early lack of consistent care, characterized by a child’s or infant’s inability to make appropriate social contact with others. Symptoms may include failure to thrive, developmental delays, failure to make eye contact, feeding disturbances, hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound, failure to initiate or respond to social interaction, indiscriminate sociability, self-stimulation, and susceptibility to infection.

Residential Care Facility

A structured 24-hour care facility with staff that provide psychological services to help severely troubled children overcome behavioral, emotional, mental, or psychological problems that adversely affect family interaction, school achievement, and peer relationships.

Residential Treatment

Therapeutic intervention processes for individuals who cannot or do not function satisfactorily in their own homes. For children and adolescents, residential treatment tends to be the last resort when a child is in danger of hurting himself or others.

Respite Care

Temporary or short-term home care of a child provided for pay or on a voluntary basis by adults other than the parents (birth, foster, or adoptive parents).


The returning of foster children to the custody of their parent(s) after placement outside the home.

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