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 20 names in this directory beginning with the letter D.
Decree of Adoption
A legal order that finalizes an adoption.
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the U.S. agency responsible for facilitating immigration cases, including those related to intercountry adoption.
Dependent Child
A child who is in the custody of the county or state child welfare system.
Designated Adoption
Agency adoptions in which contact between birth and adoptive parents occurs prior to agency involvement. In that sense, the adoption situation has already been ’identified’ and the agency ’assists’ with the placement. According to state statutes, the agency may temporarily assume guardianship of the child (this would be required in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota), or where permitted, the guardianship may be passed directly from the birth family or legal guardian to the adoptive family. Also known as Identified or Agency Assisted Adoption.
Developmental Delay
A developmental delay is any significant lag in a one’s physical, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, or social development, in comparison with the “typical” development of others of the same cognitive age.
Developmental Disability
Any disabling condition related to delays in maturation of or difficulties with skills or intellect.
DHS - Department of Homeland Security
DHS is the acronym for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. agency responsible for facilitating immigration cases, including those related to intercountry adoption.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that is often chronic in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood. This occurs because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.
Differential Response
An area of CPS reform that offers greater flexibility in responding to allegations of abuse and neglect. Also referred to as "dual track" or "multi-track" response, it permits CPS agencies to respond differentially to children’s needs for safety, the degree of risk present, and the family’s needs for services and support. See "Dual Track."
Direct Adoption
When birth parent(s) surrender their child directly to an agency.
The release or transmittal of previously hidden or unknown information.
Dispositional Hearings
Held by the juvenile and family court to determine the disposition of children after cases have been adjudicated, such as whether placement of the child in out-of-home care is necessary and what services the children and family will need to reduce the risk of maltreatment and to address the effects of maltreatment.
Disrupted Adoption
An adoption that fails before or after finalization.
An adoption or potential adoption that fails before finalization.
The term dissolution is used to describe an adoption that fails after finalization, resulting in the child’s legal custody reverting back to the agency or court that made the original placement and the child returning to foster care and/or to other adoptive parent(s).
Domestic Adoption
the adoption of a child who is born in the United States.
The collection of paperwork used in an international adoption that has been properly authenticated and translated. Requirements vary in each country.
Down Syndrome
A genetic disorder (caused by the presence of an extra chromosome), which results in physical and mental abnormalities. Physical characteristics include a flattened face, widely spaced and slanted eyes, smaller head size and lax joints. Mental retardation is also typical, though there are wide variations in mental ability, behavior, and developmental progress. Possible related health problems include poor resistance to infection, hearing loss, gastrointestinal problems and heart defects.
Drug Affected
Drug Affected is a term that is typically used to describe a child who appears affected by substances that his birth mother used or abused drugs during her pregnancy. A child who is deemed “affected” by such use and/or abuse could be a child born prematurely, of low birth weight, has facial or other dysmorphology or has other social, emotional, physical, cognitive or behavioral challenges. If the affects are not noted at birth or shortly after, but appear later in life, it is a challenge to decipher whether or not the child was affected by the use and abuse of substances or has unrelated special needs. Certainly the risk factor increases when a child is born to a woman who did not have a healthy pregnancy
There are many types of Dwarfism today including Achondroplasia. Achondroplasia is a developmental anomaly that affects bone growth. The term Little Person rather than Dwarfism is often used today and characterizes extreme shortness of stature. The condition can also be associated with many other defects including varying degrees of developmental delays and mental retardation. The condition is not known to significantly shorten one’s life span but often women experiences miscarriages during a pregnancy involving a child with a form of Dwarfism.

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