A-Z Glossary

Many adoption, foster care and child welfare vocabulary are subject to interpretation. This glossary identifies commonly held definitions for terminology that can be found in the field. It defines common acronyms and provides comprehensive definitions for a broad range of terms. The glossary will be updated as new terminology emerges in the field and as new legislation is enacted.

There are 27 names in this directory beginning with the letter C.
Cannabis / Cannabinoid
Cannabis or Cannabinoid are various parts of the plant of which Marijuana, Hashish, and other euphorigenic and hallucinogenic drugs are prepared.
The representative who works primarily with a child who is in state’s custody or someone who works directly with birth or adoptive parents. This person facilitates services that are needed by the client such as counseling, court appearances, etc. and advocates for this client. Also can be social worker or assessor.
Central Authority
The designated authority within the sending country that administrates and oversees the adoption process or the Department of State for the U.S.A
Centralized and Decentralized Adoption Administrations
These terms refer to the degree of authority and involvement overseas nations exercise in the administration of intercountry adoptions. Nations that consolidate adoption activities under government ministries are centralized and typically have two characteristics: 1) Only governmental adoption authorities may initiate adoption procedures; 2) All foreign adoption agencies and indigenous child welfare organizations must be accredited by the government and only such accredited entities are permitted to work in adoptions. With decentralization government ministries are considerably less involved in adoption procedures. Local courts and provincial or state authorities become the primary arbiters of adoption proceedings. The characteristics of decentralized administrations are: 1) The initiation of adoption procedures can originate from non-governmental sources; 2) There is no formal process of accrediting either foreign adoption agencies or indigenous child welfare organizations.
Cerebral Palsy
A non-hereditary condition that results from brain damage before, during or after birth. Children with cerebral palsy lack muscle control in one or more parts of their bodies or may experience speech and language difficulties, depending on the area of the brain damaged. Individuals with cerebral palsy can possess very normal mental functions.
Certificate of US Citizenship
In the past, adoptive parents had to apply for naturalization for their foreign-born children and children did not acquire US citizenship until the Immigration and Naturalization Service (BCIS) approved the application. Under current laws your child’s US citizenship status is no longer dependent on BCIS approving a naturalization application. If adoptive parents completed a full and final adoption abroad, their child is automatically a US citizen on the day he/she is admitted to the US as an immigrant. If they complete the adoption/re-adopt your child after their child has been admitted to the US as an immigrant (such as when an escort is used), their child automatically becomes a citizen on the day the full and final adoption is completed in the US. BCIS does not automatically provide adoptive parents with documentation of their child’s citizenship. If the adoptive parents want proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship, they may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from BCIS (INS) and/or a U.S. passport from the Department of State. (They do not need a BCIS Certificate of Citizenship issued by to obtain a US passport for their child.) If the adoptive parents want a Certificate of Citizenship for their child, file BCIS Form N-643, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child, along with the required filing fee and paperwork.
The approval process (detailed in State laws or regulations) that takes place to ensure, insofar as possible, that adoptive or foster parents are suitable, dependable and responsible. "Certification" of documents involves a seal or apostille required by law or regulation affixed to a public document (such as a birth or marriage certificate or court record) to attest to its authenticity, or to a general document to attest that an authorized official has notarized the document.
Certified birth certificates are either original or copied documentations of a live birth. These documents are legal documents and provide proof of citizenship, age and parentage. The information obtained on a certified birth certificate can vary across states, but the most pertinent information about the child and the child’s parents are standard. Typically these certified copies have a raised seal to show they are indeed certified.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
The law (P.L. 93-247) that provides a foundation for a national definition of child abuse and neglect. Reauthorized in October 1996 (P.L. 104-235), it was up for reauthorization at the time of publication. CAPTA defines child abuse and neglect as "at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."
Child Protective Services (CPS)
The designated social services agency (in most states) to receive reports, investigate and provide intervention and treatment services to children and families in which child maltreatment has occurred. Frequently, this agency is located within larger public social service agencies, such as Departments of Social Services.
Closed Adoption
The birth family and the adoptive family do not share any identifying information with each other and do not communicate with each other, either before or after the placement of the child. The adoptive family will, however, receive non-identifying health and other background information about the child and the birth family before placement occurs.
A long-term (formal or informal) agreement to support the needs of children with developmental disabilities by which extra caregivers support parents by providing ongoing respite parenting when needed. Co-parenting however is not adoption nor is it known as open adoption.
A bitter, crystalline alkaloid, C17 H21 NO4, obtained from coca leaves, used as a local anesthetic and also widely used as an illicit drug for its stimulant and euphorigenic properties.
Complaint Registry
As a source of accountability, the U.S. Secretary of State created the Complaint Registry as a tool to receive, distribute, and monitor complaints relevant to the accreditation or approval status of adoption service providers.
Concurrent planning
Concurrent planning is a practice technique used by social workers that takes place when the worker and the family simultaneously plan for reunification and an alternate permanent placement if reunification is not possible.
Conduct Disorder
A condition characterized by a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior which violates the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules. A child or teen with conduct disorder may: display aggressive conduct (bully or threaten others, initiate fights, use weapons that could cause serious harm, force someone into sexual activity, be physically aggressive or cruel to people or animals); engage in non-aggressive behaviors that result in property loss or damage; engage in deceitfulness or theft (steal, lie or break promises to obtain goods or to avoid debts or obligations); persistently engage in serious violations of rules that lead to confrontations with parents, school suspensions or expulsion; problems in the workplace; or legal difficulties (staying out after dark without permission, running away from home, truancy, etc.) Conduct disorder may lead to the development of antisocial personality disorder during adulthood.
Confidential Adoption
An adoption plan where birth and adoptive parents do not meet, do not share identifying information, and do not keep in contact. This type of adoption can also be known as a closed adoption.
The legally required process of keeping identifying or other significant information secret; the principle of ethical practice which requires social workers and other professional not to disclose information about a client without the client’s consent.
Consent Form
The legal document signed by the biological mother and father allowing their child to be placed for adoption. A consent is sometimes referred to as a surrender or relinquishment.
Consent to Adopt or Consent to Adoption
Legal permission for the adoption to proceed.
Cooperative Adoption
Adoption in which adopted child has access to both adoptive parents and birth parents that participate in decisions affecting their life. This is also known as an open adoption.
Country of Origin
The country of origin is considered to be the country in which a child is a legal resident and will be emigrating from in conjunction with an adoption case.
Court Appointed Special Advocate
An individual who is a trained community volunteer appointed by a judge to speak for the best interests of a child.
Acronym for Child Protective Services. The designated social services agency (in most states) to receive reports, investigate and provide intervention and treatment services to children and families in which child maltreatment has occurred. Frequently, this agency is located within larger public social service agencies, such as Departments of Social Services.
Criminal Clearances
Most states require one or more forms of criminal clearance as part of the home study process, which may include: Federal (FBI) criminal history check, state police criminal history check, child abuse clearance, domestic violence or sexual offense checks, and fingerprints. This usually involves completing a form with the prospective adoptive parent’s name, former names, date of birth, and social security number, possibly having the form notarized, and sending it to state child welfare or police agencies, who will check to see if anything is on file and notify the adoptive parents or the agency of the results.
Cultural Competence
A set of attitudes, behaviors and policies that integrates knowledge about groups of people into practices and standards to enhance the quality of services to all cultural groups being served.
Authority by a person or guardian embodying all of the rights and responsibilities.

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