Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Abandonment Desertion

Desertion of a child by a parent or adult primary care giver with no provisions for continued childcare nor with any apparent intention to return to resume caregiving.

Abuse and Neglect

Physical, sexual and/or emotional maltreatment. Child abuse and neglect is defined as any recent act or failure to act resulting in imminent risk of serious harm, death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child by a parent or caretaker who is responsible for the child’s welfare. Abuse and neglect are defined in both Federal and State legislation.

Adoption Assistance (AAP)

Monthly subsidy payments to help adoptive parents raise children with special needs. These payments were initially made possible by the Federal Government. States also fund monthly payments for children with special needs who are not eligible for federal subsidy payments.

Adoption Benefits

Compensation to workers through employer-sponsored programs. Some examples of such benefits are financial assistance or monetary reimbursement for the expenses of adopting a child, or provision of “parental” or “family” leave.

Adoption Disruption

The interruption of an adoption prior to finalization.

Adoption Exchange

An organization which is comprised of both private and public adoption agencies which meet for the purpose of exchanging information about available families and waiting children and making matches. Adoption exchanges also sponsor matching parties which bring together prospective adoptive parents, waiting children and their social workers in a child-focused setting. Adoption exchanges can be local, state wide or national in scope.

Adoption Petition

The legal document through which prospective parents request the court’s permission to adopt a specific child.

Adoption Subsidies

Federal or State adoption benefits (also known as adoption assistance) designed to help offset the short- and long-term costs associated with adopting children who need special services. To be eligible for the Federal subsidy program, children must meet each of the following characteristics:

  • a court has ordered that the child cannot or should not be returned to the birth family.
  • the child has special needs, as determined by the state’s definition of special needs
  • a reasonable effort has been made to place the child without a subsidy
  • the child must have been eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the time of the adoption, or the child’s birth family must have been receiving—or eligible to receive—Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), now known as CalWorks.

Benefits available through subsidy programs very by State, but commonly include:

  • monthly cash payments—up to an amount that is $1 less than the foster care payment the state would have made if the child were still in basic family foster care
  • medical assistance—through the federal program (and some state programs), Medicaid benefits
  • social services—post-adoption services such as respite care, counseling, day care, etc.
  • nonrecurring adoption expenses—a one-time reimbursement for costs such as adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, physical and psychological examinations, and other expenses related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs
Adoption Tax Credits

Non-refundable credit which reduces taxes owed by adoptive parents who claim adoption expense reimbursement under P.L. 10-188; may be claimed on Federal taxes (and in some States with similar legislation, on State taxes).

Adoption Tax Exclusions

IRS provisions in the Federal tax code which allow adoptive parents to exclude cash or other adoption benefits for qualifying adoption expenses received from a private-sector employer when computing the family’s adjusted gross income for tax purposes.

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