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 11 names in this directory beginning with the letter L.
Learning Disabilities (LD)
One or more impairments in reading, mathematics or written expression skills that interfere with academic performance in school or in activities of daily living requiring those skills. Performance on standardized tests below that expected for age, schooling and level of intelligence are used as preliminary diagnostic tools to identify areas where children are experiencing problems. Children with learning disabilities may be of average or above average intelligence, but have difficulty learning, sorting and storing information. Some children find learning in a regular classroom difficult and LD classes may be recommended to help them achieve their potential in school.
Legal Custody
Responsibility for a person according to law, such as a guardian’s authority (conferred by the court) over the person or property (or both.)
Legal Guardian
Any person who can make legal decisions for a minor child.
Legal Risk Adoption
An adoption in which the child is placed with a prospective adoptive family even though the prospective adoptive family can not be guaranteed that the child is eligible for adoption because birth parents rights have not yet been terminated. (Also known as At-Risk Placement or Legal-Risk Placement.)
Legal Risk Placement
Placement of a child in a prospective adoptive family when a child is not yet legally free for adoption. Before a child can be legally adopted, parental rights of his or her birth parents must be terminated. In a "legal risk" adoptive placement either this termination of parental rights has not yet occurred, or it is being contested. In some cases, termination of parental rights is delayed until a specific adoptive family has been identified.
Legally Free
A child whose birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated so that the child is "free" to be adopted by another family.
The designation of a person within an organization who has responsibility for facilitating communication, collaboration and coordination between agencies.
Life Book
A pictorial and written representation of the child’s life designed to help the child make sense of his unique background and history. The life book includes birthparents, other relatives, birthplace and date, etc. and can be put together by social workers, foster parents or adoptive parents working with the child.
Long-Term Foster Care
The intentional and planned placement of a child in foster care for an extended period of time. After the goal of adoption has been explored and not selected, and relative options are not feasible, a goal of planned long-term foster care may be seen as a viable goal. Increasingly some States child welfare systems no longer view long-term foster care as a placement alternative.
A feeling of emotional deprivation that is experienced at some point in time. For a birth parent the initial loss will usually be felt at or subsequent to the placement of the child. Adoptive parents who are infertile feel a loss in their inability to bear a child. An adopted child may feel a sense of loss at various points in time; the first time the child realizes he is adopted may invoke a strong sense of loss for his birth family.
Low Birth Weight
An infant born weighing less than 5.5 pounds (2500 grams) regardless of gestational age is classified as "a low-birth-weight infant.” Low birth weight does not necessarily mean the child was born premature. A baby could be of low birth weight due to problem maternal malnutrition

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