What is Adoption? [Adoption Definition]

A Glossary of Common Adoption-Related Terms  

When searching “adoption definition,” it’s important to know what adoption means for your unplanned pregnancy, how it benefits you in your situation and the various terms associated with adoption.  

  • Adoption is a pregnancy option that creates a better future for everyone involved.  
  • Birth mothers searching to define adoption can also learn the many benefits of adoption.  
  • An adoption professional is the best source to learn more about the adoption definition.   

Because adoption is a life-changing pregnancy option, it’s important that you reach out to an adoption professional to get the help you need.  

When it comes to the adoption definition for your unplanned pregnancy, it’s first important to know what adoption is.  

What is Adoption?  

Adoption is a legal process where a child becomes a part of a new family. While there are many different kinds of adoption (international, foster care, step-parent, etc.), here we are focusing on domestic infant adoption — when a pregnant woman creates an adoption plan, chooses the adoptive family and gives her child a wonderful life. 

When parenting isn’t possible, and abortion isn’t an option, you can always choose adoption.   

Placing your child for adoption with a family allows you to remain focused on your goals in life without the burden of parenting. By working with an adoption agency, you are in complete control of your adoption experience, including hand-picking the adoptive family.  

So, when trying to define adoption, you first need to know that adoption is the chance at a brighter future for you and your child.   

The adoption process has several important steps, and when you work with the right agency, an adoption professional will guide you through each step and ensure that you have the support you need.  

Before we cover some important adoption terms, including the adoption process, you can find a complete guide to the adoption process here. You can also learn more about the definition of adoption and how to place your baby for adoption by filling out this form to connect with a professional today.  

The Benefits of Adoption  

When searching to define “adopt” and other related terms, you might also be looking for the benefits of adoption.  

Women considering adoption do so for a variety of reasons.   

  • Unstable living conditions  
  • Unstable finances  
  • Age  
  • Lacking support from the birth father  
  • Struggles with addiction  
  • Active-duty military  
  • And more  

No matter why you choose adoption, it’s always an option. It allows you to move forward in life to focus on your circumstances and goals while giving your child a life full of opportunities with a beautiful family.  

  • Remember, a professional is always available to help you with the adoption definition and start your adoption journey today. By completing our online contact form, you can quickly connect with a trusted professional.  

Now, let’s explore the many common adoption terms you need to know beyond the basic definition of adoption.  

Adoption Definition: A Glossary of Common Adoption Terms  

Whether you’re a birth mother, adoptee or adoptive family, there are many key adoption-related terms to know.   


Merriam-Webster defines adoption as, “the act of adopting: the state of being adopted.”  

As it pertains to the adoption definition for kids, you are choosing to place your child for adoption with another family legally.  

It’s also important to note that legal adoption includes adults over the age of 18 being adopted.  

When trying to define adoption based on what it means to birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents, you get a much more personal answer.  

Adoption is about creating a better future, building a family and self-identity. Birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive families will always recognize that their experience is a significant part of who they are as individuals.  

Regardless of who you are, adoption is positive, loving, selfless and heroic.  


When you search “define adopt,” you get multiple uses of the term.  

Regarding adopting a child, “adopt” means “to take by choice into a relationship.”  

Couples choose to adopt a child for many reasons.  

  • They want to grow their family through adoption  
  • LGBTQ+ couples are ready for parenthood  
  • They are experiencing infertility issues  
  • They are an older couple wanting to raise another child  
  • And more  


The adopted definition for a child means ‘legally made the son or daughter of someone other than a biological parent.”  

Searching for the formal adopted definition is one thing, but to truly understand what the term means is to see it from the adoptee’s perspective.  

Children who are adopted identify with being an adoptee for the rest of their lives. Some may view it as a negative, as though their biological parents didn’t want them. However, this is not the case for most children who are adopted today. 

Because adoptions were commonly closed due to stigma, adoptees often did not know their origin and why their biological parents “gave them up.”  

But, because open adoption is the most common type of adoption today, adoptees have the chance to know their biological parents and understand why “giving them up” for adoption was the right decision.  

Adoptees can also better understand that adoption is never “giving up.” Their biological parent chose to give them the best life possible when parenting wasn’t an option.  


While searching adoption definition, and more specifically, “adoptive,” you’ll discover that while similar to “adopted,” this particular adoption term relates more to an adoptive family.  

Being referred to as an adoptive family is much more relevant during the actual adoption process than post-placement. Even in open adoption, where a birth mother and her child maintain a connection, an adoptee will recognize their adoptive parents as “mom and dad.”  

Ultimately, these closely related terms within the adoption definition are more about how each person involved in the adoption process views them. Birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents have a unique and special connection and each common term used to describe adoption holds a special meaning.  

Adoption Agency  

You can’t define adoption without knowing what an adoption agency is and how they help birth mothers create a more hopeful future through the life-changing journey of adoption.  

Adoption agencies specialize in providing support, resources and services to help birth mothers place their children with adoptive families.  

There are smaller local adoption agencies and larger national agencies. Knowing which one to work with takes research and knowing more about what each agency offers.   

The benefits of working with a larger national agency include:  

  • A larger pool of waiting adoptive families  
  • Unique video profiles to help match with the perfect family  
  • More in-house services  
  • Paid medical expenses and legal representation  
  • And more  

We encourage you to complete this form to speak with a professional that can connect you with the best adoption agencies in your area.  

Adoption Professional  

As you continue to research the definition of adoption, you’ll learn more about the role of an adoption professional.  

Adoption professionals typically come from social work backgrounds and, in some cases, have a personal connection with adoption. When you begin the adoption process, your adoption professional is there to guide you through each important step, provide you with the emotional support you need and help you find the perfect family for your child.  

When placing your child for adoption, it’s crucial that you have a support system, and your adoption professional is always in your corner.  

You can speak to a trusted adoption professional today by filling out our online contact form.   

Adoption Attorney  

An adoption attorney is another important adoption professional you’ll learn about as part of the broader adoption definition.  

Because each state has specific adoption laws, you need to work with an experienced adoption attorney to ensure the proper legal steps are taken to make your adoption legal.  

All legal expenses are fully covered for prospective birth parents when you work with the right adoption agency.  

You can learn more about adoption attorneys by reaching out to a professional.   

Adoption Plan  

When searching “define adoption,” did you come across the term “adoption plan?”  

An adoption plan is essentially the blueprint to your entire adoption experience. The best agencies work with you to create an adoption plan based on your needs, expectations and preferences for a specific type of adoptive family.  

As a birth mother placing her child for adoption, you are in complete control of your adoption plan. Once you’ve chosen the right agency, you will immediately create a personalized plan with your adoption professional.  

You can also find a complete guide to creating an adoption plan here.  

Adoption Hospital Plan  

In addition to learning more about the adoption definition, your adoption professional can give you more information on creating an adoption hospital plan.  

This important aspect of your overall adoption experience allows you to determine what you expect and require for your hospital stay. Among the many decisions you get to make for your adoption hospital plan, you get to:  

  • Decide who gets to be with you at the hospital.  
  • Decide who will be in the delivery room.  
  • Determine how much contact you want with the adoptive family.  
  • Choose who gets to hold the baby first.  
  • Decide whether you want to take pictures with the adoptive family.  
  • And more  

Adoption Assistance  

Adoption assistance is a vital aspect of working with an adoption agency. Each state has adoption laws that allow for pregnancy-related living expenses.   

Your adoption professional and attorney will help you get the maximum allowed amount of adoption assistance so that you never have to worry about things like:  

  • Rent  
  • Utilities  
  • Transportation  
  • Groceries  
  • Maternity clothing  
  • Phone bill  
  • And more  

Again, when you define adoption, you have to include all of the details that make adoption a life-changing pregnancy option. That includes adoption assistance available to prospective birth mothers.  

Adoption Paperwork  

Adoption paperwork is the final paperwork you’ll complete to make your adoption legal. After the baby’s birth, your adoption professional and attorney will help you complete all remaining paperwork at the hospital.  

Birth Mother  

One of the most important terms associated with the adoption definition is “birth mother.”  

Your brave decision to choose adoption to give you and your child a better future is why the term “birth mother” is so important when talking about adoption.  

The adoption process is about you, what you need and want and how agencies and professionals can ensure that you match with the perfect adoptive family.  

Birth Father  

Unfortunately, in many cases, the role of the birth father in adoption can be tricky. It’s not uncommon for birth fathers to be relatively uninvolved in the adoption process, so when searching for the definition of adoption, you may notice it speaks primarily to birth mothers.  

Professionals always encourage birth fathers to be supportive of a birth mother’s adoption plan. In fact, unsupportive birth fathers often don’t know what adoption is, the many benefits it provides and how it helps create a better future for them, too.  

Professionals also encourage birth mothers to include birth fathers in finding a family, medical appointments and the birth of the baby, even if there isn’t a formal relationship between the two.  

It’s also crucial that birth fathers understand their rights in the adoption process.   

You can get more information on the adoption definition and birth fathers in adoption by filling out our online form to connect with a professional.  

For a complete list of terms commonly associated with adoption, take this link.  

About the Author

Lindsay Arielle has been a proud birth mother since placing her son for adoption in 2011. Her post-placement agreement has always been an open adoption. She loves the time she gets to spend with her son and his parents during visits. Lindsay truly believes that for herself and her family, adoption has been a blessing, and she enjoys writing about spiritual healing for birth mothers.

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