Adoption & Permanency Glossary
The birth family is the biological family of a child who is adopted. Many children who are adopted continue to have some form of contact with birth family members. If there is not direct contact many adopted people wonder and think about their birth families after they are adopted. Adoption records in Ontario are open, so adopted and birth families may search for each other and reconnect later in life.
The term, “best interests of the child” is meant to describe the set of principles which guide a court’s deliberation on matters involving children. The core philosophy is that the needs of the child take precedent over all other concerns. This principle is also used by Children’s Aid Societies to determine adoption decisions.
a community agency that is funded by the Ontario government to provide protective services where children are at risk of harm.
A closed adoption is one where the adopted child and adoptive family are not in contact with the child’s birth family and very little information is known about the birth family. Note that adoption records are open in Canada, so once an adopted person turns 18 they are able to request identifying information about their birth parents from the government regardless of how open or closed their adoption has been.
An organization with a national focus regarding adoption and permanency.
It is often the case that adoption professionals will be seeking to place a particular child with a family who has experience related to specific topic. This usually means that the child has particular needs that require parents who are more assured and confident in parenting.
Customary Care is the full-time care, nurturing and protection of a child by a customary caregiver identified by the child’s First Nation community. Caregiver(s) may include relatives, First Nation community members, or an adult whom the child has a bond with. This definition is designed to be inclusive and respectful of cultural values and ties to affection.
Children’s Aid Society.
Any adoption of an Ontarian child by a family in Ontario. Includes public, private, and relative adoptions, as distinct from international adoptions.
Extended society care is a term used in Ontario to describe when a foster child who has been made the legal responsibility of the government by a family court judge. In effect, the province has become the child’s parent. For example, once a child has been permanently removed from their family the individuals are then known to be in extended society care.
The title of a document that can be submitted by prospective adoptive parents to AO to their interest in learning more about a specific child they have learned about on the AO website.
This is an important principle which reminds us that all many children require and deserve a stable, safe and loving family. Adoption is one way to achieve this and should be considered as an option no matter the child’s age, sibling group size, special needs status, etc.
Adoption finalization is the last part of the adoption process. The family court judge signs the adoption order and adoptive parents become the legal parents of the child with all the rights and responsibilities of biological parents.
Foster care is a temporary living arrangement for a child who cannot live safely with their family of origin. Many children spend time in foster care before being adopted.
an organization whose goal is to provide education and support to families and individuals who experience FASD. (http://www.fasdontario.ca/cms/about-us/contact-us/)
When a child enters the adoptive home, they come with a tremendous amount of grief and loss. Losses that include birth parents, extended family, home, pets, neighborhoods, schools, friends, treasured belongings, and in some cases culture. Adults often have the words to describe losses in their lives and can communicate to others. Children don’t have those words so they express loss using behaviors. Examples of possible reactions of grieving children include anger, sadness, hyperactivity, changes in appetite, hoarding food, inappropriate emotional response, headaches, and difficulty making decisions, regressive behaviors, and clinginess. Because children (and adults) understand things differently at every developmental stage, grief and loss continues to be felt by the child as they grow into adulthood. Part of being an adoptive family is to understand and help the child work through loss issues throughout their lives.
“Humans” (with a capital H) is the term the NTL Team has designated to describe the older, caring adults in their lives who function in a parenting manner in order to be respectful that for some youth the term “parent” can be triggering or belongs to other people in their lives.
Name of a webinar/seminar that provides basic information about the adoption process in Ontario including eligibility requirements and the different adoption options (i.e., public, private and intercountry adoptions)
Is provided for children who are in the care of a Children’s Aid Society and are placed with a member of their extended family or community for adoption or long-term foster care. Kin n care applicants are treated as other foster or adoptive applicants. They are required to undergo the same process such as a homestudy and parent preparation training.
is a term used to describe a child welfare intervention when a family member or close friend provide care for child or youth on an informal basis, while the child’s parents address child protection concerns. These arrangements are sometimes made formal by the relative applying to the courts directly for legal custody of the child.
Describes an approach where Children’s aid society engage with family members and friends who are known to the child or youth to provide care to them while their parents address child protections concerns.
A Life Book is a record of a child’s life that is typically created while they live in foster care. Life books use words, photos, the child's artwork, computer graphics, and memorabilia in the form of a scrapbook. Life Books can help put all the information pieces together in a way that helps the child make sense of their history.
Openness in adoption is a common practice. Agreements and court orders set out the expectations about how information and contact will occur. Adoption records are open in Ontario, so once an adopted person turns 18, they are able to request identifying information about their birth parents from the government regardless of how open or closed their adoption has been.
Openness is a term to describe the level of information sharing and contact between a child's birth family and adoptive family. It can take many forms, including sharing non-identifying information and annual letters and pictures via the Children’s Aid Society, to in person visits with birth parents or extended birth family. The term is also used to refer to contact between the child's foster family, siblings, and extended family, and the new adoptive family.
OACAS is a membership organization representing Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario. These services have included the promotion of child welfare issues, government relations, advocacy, policy development, communications, research and special projects, member support, quality assurance in child welfare practice, and training for all protection workers throughout the province.
Ontario courts assign a lawyer to children or youth who are involved in child welfare proceedings. OCL may also get involved in cases in family court.
Stands for Report on the Adjustment of the Child in the Home. In the report, the adoption worker includes general information about the adoptive family, the adopted child and about how the adoption has progressed during the adoption probation period. The report is submitted to the Ministry of Children Community and Social Services and then to the Ontario courts as part of the requirements to obtain a final adoption order.
is a term used to describe the experience of those who have lived in a closed adoption when they move towards opening up communication and the exchange of information. Typically, it applies when the adopted person is an adult.