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Understanding Florida Adoption Definitions

Are you an expectant birth mother or hopeful adoptive parent? If so, you’ve probably come across some unfamiliar terms as you’ve researched the adoption process. You’re not alone. The lingo surrounding adoption can be confusing, but we’re here to help. We’ve assembled this guide to give you a better understanding of key Florida adoption definitions. 

Understanding key adoption definitions in Florida is a critical step in your adoption journey. To truly comprehend many of these terms, you must understand they have both a formal definition and alternative meanings that bear different meanings for the people who use them.

This guide will help provide you with foundational knowledge of important terms if you’re considering adoption. You can also get more information from one of our professionals today by calling 1-800-ADOPTION or completing our online form.

If you’d like to gain a fundamental understanding of some of the most common adoption terms and their adoption definitions in FL, please keep reading below.

What’s the Definition of Adoption in FL?

Before we get into some of the more specific terms related to adoption, it’s wise to define adoption itself. The most common definition of adoption in Florida is “the act or process of adopting a child.” While adults over the age of 18 can legally be adopted, child adoption is more common. In most cases, adoption means a child is placed with an adoptive family. The adoptive parents aren’t biologically related to the child, but they love them and support them all the same.

“Adoption Triad”

The “adoption triad” is an adoption definition in FL that’s probably unfamiliar to many, but it’s an important one. The term describes the three-party coalition that is a part of every adoption scenario: the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee.


Adoption is primarily focused on the good of the child being adopted, and knowing the FL adoption definition for “adoptee” is at the heart of the process. The adoptee is the child who is transferred from their biological parents to their adoptive parents through adoption. Adoptees can be infants (as in domestic adoption) or older children (as in foster care adoption.) 

The adoption process is almost wholly focused on the adoptee. Every aspect of the process is meant to protect them and make sure their interests are guarded. Laws regulating adoption practices (like the adoption home study requirement) are intended to ensure the adoptee’s safety and well-being. The adoptee is always the priority in modern adoption.

“Adoptive Family” or “Adoptive Parents”

The “adoptive family” definition in FL could be the easiest term to define on this list. The adoptive family is the party in the adoption triad that accepts the adoptee into their family and makes a commitment to being their permanent parents. The adoptive parents have full legal parental rights and the responsibility of raising the adoptee.

The FL adoptive parents' definition goes beyond that, though. The adoptive family offers love and stability. They also give expectant birth parents a way to make a loving choice that provides their child with hope for a better future, even when they can’t parent. Choosing to become an adoptive parent means you’re committing yourself to loving the child and ensuring their needs are met.

The definition of adoptive parents in Florida has different meanings for everyone involved in the adoption, but they’re all positive: hope for the future, a wealth of opportunities, increased stability, and unconditional love.

“Birth Parent”

The third member of the adoption triad is comprised of the birth parents. The adoption definition in Florida for the term “birth parent” identifies them as the adoptee’s biological parents. In private adoptions, the birth parents voluntarily choose to put their child up for adoption out of love to give them their best possible future. 

In foster care adoption, that’s not the case, however. Many factors can lead to birth parents losing their parental rights, including neglect or abuse. Children in this circumstance are cared for through the foster system in temporary homes. However, when the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated by the family court, children in foster care are eligible for permanent adoption by loving adoptive families who wish to adopt an older child.

“Adoption Agency”

The next FL adoption agency definition is a simple one. An adoption agency is a state-licensed professional organization that offers services to allow for the placement of children through adoption.

Adoption agencies may work with expectant mothers who want to place their children and assist them in deciding if adoption is the right option when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Agencies partner with hopeful adoptive families to assist them in identifying adoption opportunities. At American Adoptions, we are even licensed to perform the required adoption home study to make sure the adoptive home is safe and stable for the adoptee.

“Adoption Professional”

An adoption definition in FL that’s similar to the definition of “adoption agency” is “adoption professional.” That’s because adoption professionals are the people who staff adoption agencies.

Your adoption professional is your counselor, advisor, and ally throughout the adoption process. Your adoption professional is a licensed, skilled specialist who works with both expectant birth parents and potential adoptive families to accomplish their adoption goals.

Adoption professionals are usually trained social workers who can perform many adoption-related tasks including:

  • Creating adoption profiles
  • Assisting birth parents with adoption plans
  • Matching expectant birth mothers with waiting adoptive families
  • Setting up communication between the parties
  • And much more

At American Adoptions, it’s true that our adoption professionals are highly-trained experts when it comes to the adoption process. But they’re so much more than that. Many are also adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents who have been in your shoes and are willing to share their experiences as you navigate your own adoption journey.

“Adoption Plan”

Another adoption definition in FL you may not know is the definition for the term, “adoption plan.” So, what’s an adoption plan? It’s a document the birth parents create with help from their adoption professional to communicate and record their preferences for their adoption experience. It allows expectant birth parents to proclaim what kind of family they want for their child and how details such as signing the adoption papers will go.

“Home Study”

What’s an adoption home study? If you’re a hopeful adoptive family, you’ll definitely need to know this adoption definition in FL before you go further into the process. For any adoption in Florida, a home study must be performed by a licensed professional. The home study protects the adoptee and ensures the potential adoptive home is safe and stable.

American Adoptions can perform adoption home studies in Florida and is also fully licensed as a national child placement agency. Partnering with our agency provides you with all the services you’ll need to complete an adoption without ever going outside of our agency.

“Post-Placement Contact Agreement”

Another FL adoption definition you should know is “post-placement contact agreement.” There are three types of post-placement contact agreements in modern adoption: open, semi-open, and closed. These post-placement contact agreements are mutually agreed upon by the adoptive parents and birth parents with the intention of setting the type and frequency of contact between the parties before and after the placement of the child.

“Open Adoption”

Would you like for the members of the adoption triad to stay in contact after the placement of the adoptee? If so, you should know the Florida adoption definition for “open adoption.” Open adoption is an agreement between the members of the adoption triad to commit to free, open communication before and after placement of the adoptee.

Open adoption can include a variety of types of communication, such as:

  • Calls
  • Emails
  • Videos
  • Letters
  • Even in-person meetings.

Open adoption is the most popular kind of post-placement contact agreement today, and there’s a good reason for that. At American Adoptions, we recommend open adoption because it bestows many advantages on everyone involved in the adoption triad.

“Semi-Open Adoption”

The next adoption definition in FL you need to know that relates to post-placement contact is “semi-open adoption.” Semi-open adoption is found in the area between open and closed adoption contact agreements. There is some contact among the parties in the adoption triad, but it’s limited and may be moderated by an adoption professional.

“Closed Adoption”

The final adoption definition in FL you should know is closed adoption. Closed adoption, though uncommon in modern adoption, features no contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptee during the adoption process or after placement. While once common, closed adoption has fallen from favor and has become increasingly rare.

Closing Words Regarding Adoption Definitions in Florida

Our guide to FL adoption definitions isn’t meant to be comprehensive, as there are many other specialized terms you may need to learn depending on your situation. Also, it’s important to remember that each of the terms above has special meaning for the people involved in adoption.  

If you’d like to get more information about adoption definitions in FL, please know we’re here to help with that. To speak to one of our adoption professionals today, simply call 1-800-ADOPTION or complete our free online form

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