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Learning More About Arizona Adoption Definitions

As an expectant birth mother or hopeful adoptive parent, you may find many of the unfamiliar terms associated with the adoption process a little confusing. Don’t worry, though. First of all, that’s normal. Secondly, we’re here to help. We’ve assembled this guide to help you better understand a few key AZ adoption definitions.

Learning the adoption definitions in Arizona used today is an important part of every adoption experience. Of course, there are narrow dictionary definitions for adoption-related terms. These same adoption terms have alternative meanings, however, and they can carry different meanings to the people who use them.

Understanding the terms defined in our helpful guide is a helpful exercise if you’re considering adoption. We want to help you do that. You can speak to one of our professionals today by calling 1-800-ADOPTION or completing our online form.

Please continue reading, as you’ll gain a fundamental understanding of some of the most common adoption terms and their adoption definitions in AZ. 

What’s the Definition of Adoption in AZ?

Let’s start with the most important definition first. The most common definition of adoption in Arizona is “the act or process of adopting a child.” Technically speaking, adults over the age of 18 can legally be adopted, but child adoption is far more common. Generally speaking, adoption means a child is placed with a family other than their birth parents. Though the adoptive parents aren’t biologically tied to the child, they love them and support them as if they were.

“Adoptive Family” or “Adoptive Parents”

The “adoptive family” definition in AZ could be the easiest term to decipher on our list. The adoptive family is led by the part of the adoption triad that welcomes the adoptee into their family and commits to becoming their permanent parents. The adoptive parents get full legal parental rights and responsibilities for raising the adoptee once the adoption is finalized.

The AZ adoptive parents definition has a deeper meaning than that, however. The adoptive family is a source of love and hope for expectant birth parents who love their babies but, for any number of reasons, can’t parent when the child is born. For the adoptee, the adoptive family offers a path to a bright future. Becoming an adoptive parent means you’re making a commitment to love the child and ensure their needs are met.

In short, the definition of adoptive parents in Arizona can have positive meanings for the different parties involved: hope for the future, a wealth of opportunities, increased stability, and unconditional love.


At the heart of every adoption scenario is the child being adopted, and the AZ adoption definition for “adoptee” is one you should know. The adoptee is the child who is transferred from their biological parents to their adoptive parents through the adoption process. Depending on the type of adoption, adoptees might be babies or older children.  

Adoptees are the focal point of the adoption process. Every aspect of adoption is intended to benefit them and ensure their interests are protected. Regulations governing adoption practices such as home study are required to guard the adoptee’s safety and well-being. The adoptee is always the priority in modern adoption.

“Birth Parent”

The final member of the adoption triad (defined below) are the birth parents. The adoption definition in Arizona for  “birth parent” identifies them as the biological parents of the adoptee. In private adoptions, the birth parents voluntarily decide to place their child out of love and a desire to give them the best possible future. 

In foster care adoption, that’s not the case. There are many reasons that birth parents may have had their parental rights terminated, such as neglect or abuse. When that happens, children are cared for through the foster system in temporary homes. Once the birth parent’s rights are exhausted in family court, children in foster care may be adopted by loving adoptive families who are open to adopting an older child.

“Adoption Triad”

The “adoption triad” is an adoption definition in AZ that most people are not familiar with but that you already know if you’ve read this far. The term is used to describe the three-party coalition involved in every adoption scenario: the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee.

“Adoption Agency”

The next AZ adoption agency definition is the easiest to understand. Simply put, an adoption agency is a state-licensed professional organization that provides services to facilitate the placement of children through adoption.

Adoption agencies work with expectant mothers considering adoption to assist them in deciding whether adoption is a good option when dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. Agencies also partner with waiting adoptive families to help them find opportunities to adopt. The best adoption agencies (including American Adoptions) even handle the required adoption home studies to ensure the adoptive home is safe and stable for the adoptee.

“Adoption Professional”

Another adoption definition in AZ that’s good to know is “adoption professional.” Your adoption professional may be seen as an ally or counselor, but the primary role of an adoption professional is to serve as a licensed, skilled specialist who partners with expectant birth parents and potential adoptive families to accomplish their adoptive goals. They staff the adoption agencies defined above.

Adoption professionals are often social workers who are trained to help with many adoption-related tasks like creating adoption profiles, assisting birth parents with adoption plans, pairing expectant birth mothers with waiting adoptive families, and setting up communication between the parties.

You may be interested to know that at American Adoptions, our adoption professionals aren’t just highly-trained adoption professionals. Many of them are also adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents who are willing to share their own experiences with you throughout your journey.

“Adoption Plan”

Unless you have a deeper knowledge of the adoption process, one adoption definition in AZ you may not know is the adoption plan. What’s an adoption plan? It’s a document created by the birth parents to express and document their preferences for their adoption experience. Through the adoption plan, expectant birth parents communicate what kind of family they want to adopt their child and how details like the signing of adoption papers and hospital stay will go.

“Home Study”

What’s an adoption home study? If you’re a hopeful adoptive family, it’s an adoption definition in AZ that you need to know. Before any adoption in Arizona can be completed, a home study must first be performed by a licensed professional. The home study protects the adoptee and is intended to ensure the potential adoptive home is safe and stable.

American Adoptions is licensed to handle adoption home studies in Arizona in addition to being a fully licensed national child placement agency. When you partner with our agency, you’ll get all the services you need to fulfill your adoption requirements within one agency.

“Post-Placement Contact Agreement”

It’s important to consider the AZ adoption definition of the term “post-placement contact agreement” before learning about open, semi-open, and closed adoptions. The post-placement contact agreements in adoption are mutually agreed upon arrangements between the adoptive parents and birth parents to specify the type and frequency of contact before and after the placement of the child with an adoptive family.

“Open Adoption”

If you’re considering adoption, an important Arizona adoption definition you need to know is “open adoption.” Open adoption features an agreement between the involved parties to commit to free, open communication between the members of the adoption triad.

The kinds of communication that are involved in open adoption may include:

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

There’s a good reason that open adoption is the most popular kind of post-placement contact agreement today. At American Adoptions, we strongly recommend open adoption because of the advantages it offers everyone in the adoption triad.

“Closed Adoption”

Though they’re uncommon these days, it’s still good to include the adoption definition in AZ for closed adoption when making a list of key adoption-related terms. Closed adoption is a form of private adoption in which there’s no contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptee during the adoption process or after the child’s birth. Once the norm, closed adoptions have fallen out of favor in modern adoption and are increasingly rare.

“Semi-Open Adoption”

The last adoption definition in AZ on our list of terms you should know is “semi-open adoption.” A semi-open adoption falls into the middle ground between open and closed adoption contact agreements. Some contact is allowed among parties in the adoption triad, but the contact is more limited and is sometimes moderated by an adoption professional.

Final Words on Adoption Definitions in Arizona

This list of AZ adoption definitions mentioned above isn’t comprehensive, and there are more specialized terms you should know. It’s also worth noting that each term here has a special meaning for the people involved in adoption. Still, we hope this guide has been helpful.

If there’s more you want to know about adoption definitions in AZ, we want you to know that we’re here to help. You can speak to one of our adoption professionals today by calling 1-800-ADOPTION or by completing our free online form

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