Adults Adopting Special Kids program is a collaborative venture of the N.D. Department of Human Services, a North Dakota licensed child placement agencies. AASK provides adoption services for children being placed for adoption from the foster care system and for the families who adopt them.


An adopted person.


A court action in which an adult assumes legal and other responsibilities for another, usually a minor.

Adoption Agency (or LCPA - Licensed Child Placing Agency)

An organization, licensed by the state that provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and children who need families; agencies may be public or private, secular or religious, for profit or nonprofit.

Adoption assistance

These monthly subsidy payments to help adoptive parents raise children with special needs, were made possible by the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-272) that provided federal funding for children eligible under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. States also fund monthly payments for children with special needs who are not eligible for federally funded subsidy payments. Adoption assistance can also refer to any help given to adoptive parents.

Adoption disruption

The interruption of an adoption prior to finalization, this is sometimes called a failed adoption or a failed placement. The child would return to foster care and/or be placed with another adoptive parent.

Adoption dissolution

The interruption or "failure" of an adoption after finalization that requires court action (The child would return to foster care and/or be placed with another adoptive parent.)

Adoption exchange

An organization that recruits adoptive families for children with special needs using print, radio, television, and Internet recruitment, adoption exchanges can be local, state, regional, national or international in scope.

Adoption petition

The legal document through which prospective parents request the court's permission to adopt a specific child.

Adoption placement

The point at which a child begins to live with prospective adoptive parents or, in the case of foster adoption, the point at which the status of the placement changes to adoption; the period before the adoption is finalized.

Adoption plan

Birth parents' decisions to allow their child to be placed for adoption.

Adoption subsidies

Federal or state adoption benefits (also known as adoption assistance) designed to help offset the costs associated with adopting children who are being adopted from public foster care who may need special services. To be eligible for the federal IV-E subsidy program, children must meet each of the following characteristics:

Benefits available through subsidy programs vary by state, but commonly include:

Prospective parents should ask their adoption agency about the availability of federal and state subsidies. Information about federal and state subsidy programs is available at the National Adoption Assistance Training, Resource, and Information Network (NAATRIN) at (800) 470-6665.

Adoption tax credits

Non-refundable credit which reduces taxes owed by adoptive parents who claim adoption expense reimbursement under P.L. 104-188; may be claimed on federal taxes.

Adoption triad

The three major parties in an adoption: birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted child; also called "adoption triangle" or "adoption circle".

Adult adoption

The adoption of a person over the age of majority (as defined in state law).

Agency adoption

Adoptive placements made by licensed organizations that screen prospective adoptive parents and supervise the placement of children in adoptive homes until the adoption is finalized.

Birth parent

A child's biological parent

Closed adoption

An adoption that involves total confidentiality and sealed records.

Concurrent planning

A process used in foster care case management by which child welfare staff work toward family reunification and, at the same time, develop an alternative permanency plan for the child (such as permanent placement with a relative, or adoption) should family reunification efforts fail; planning intended to reduce the time a child spends in foster care before a child is placed with a permanent family.


The legally required process of keeping identifying or other significant information secret; the principle or ethical practice which requires social workers and other professionals not to disclose information about a client without the client's consent.

Consent to adopt or consent to adoption

Legal permission for the adoption to proceed.

Decree of adoption

A legal order that finalizes an adoption.


The dissemination of non-identifying and/ or identifying adoption information as allowed by statute.

Disruption See Adoption disruption

Dissolution See Adoption dissolution


A set of legal documents which are used in an international adoption to process a child's adoption or assignment of guardianship in the foreign court.


The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a court hearing during which the judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child's legal parents.


In this type of placement, foster parents agree to adopt the child if/when parental rights are terminated. Social workers place the child with specially trained foster-adopt parents who will work with the child during family reunification efforts but who will adopt the child if the child becomes available for adoption and cannot be placed for adoption with a relative.

Home study (or Adoption assessment or investigation)

A process through which prospective adoptive parents are educated about adoption and evaluated to determine their suitability to adopt.

Identifying information

Information about birth parents that discloses their identities.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

A federal law (Public Law 95-608) regarding the placement of Native-American children that establishes a tribe's sovereignty as a separate nation over the welfare of children who are tribal members or who are eligible for tribal membership.


Acronym for U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, a federal agency under the Justice Department that oversees all visas issued to allow entry into the United States.

Inter-country or international adoption

The adoption of a child who is a citizen of one country by adoptive parents who are citizens of a different country.

Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA)

An agreement between member states that governs the interstate delivery of and payment for medical services and adoption assistance payments/subsidies for adopted children with special needs. The agreements are established by the laws of the states that are parties to the compact. The Children & Family Services Division of the N.D. Department of Human Services administers ICAMA.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)

An agreement regulating the placement of children across state lines.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have independently adopted the ICPC as statutory law in their respective jurisdictions. It establishes orderly procedures for the interstate placement of children and fixes responsibility for those involved in placing the child. ICPC is administered through the Children & Family Services Division of the N.D. Department of Human Services.


A federal funding source for foster care and adoption assistance.

LCPA or Licensed Child Placement Agency

As governed by N.D. Century Code 50-12, those agencies are licensed by the state to make foster or adoptive placements, but does not include human service zone offices. For the purposes of adoption, these agencies are the only entities authorized by law to do adoption assessments (home studies) or to provide adoption services.

Legal risk placement

Placement of a child in a prospective adoptive family when a child is not yet legally free for adoption Before another family can legally adopt a child, parental rights of his or her birth parents must be terminated. In a "legal risk" placement either this termination of parental rights has not yet occurred, or it is being contested.

Legally free

A child whose birth parents' rights have been legally terminated so that the child is "free" to be adopted by relatives or another family.

MEPA or Multi-Ethnic Placement Act

A federal law enacted in 1994 [as amended, P.L. 103-382 [42 USC 622] prohibits the delay or denial of any adoption or placement in foster care due to the race, color, or national origin of the child or of the foster or adoptive parents and requires states to provide for diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children for whom homes are needed The 1996 amendment, Section 1808 of P.L. 104-188, Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption, affirms the prohibition against delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or foster care on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the foster or adoptive parents or of the child involved [42 USC 1996b].

Non-identifying information

Facts about the birth parents or adoptive parents that would not lead to their discovery by another person and may include social and medical history of the birth parents and their extended family.

Non-recurring adoption costs

One-time adoption expenses, which, through the provisions of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, may be at least partially reimbursed by states up to a maximum limit of $2,000 to families adopting children with special needs Allowable expenses for this reimbursement benefit can include the cost of a home study, adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, physical and psychological examinations, travel to visit with the child prior to the placement, and other expenses related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs.

Open adoption

An adoption that involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families, ranging from sending letters through the agency, to exchanging names, and/or scheduling visits.

Paternity testing

Genetic testing that can determine the identity of the biological father; paternity testing can be done with or without access to the biological mother.

Permanency planning

The systematic process of carrying out (within a brief, time-limited period) a set of goal-directed activities designed to help children live in permanent families by providing continuity of relationships with nurturing parents or caretakers and the opportunity to establish lifetime family relationships.

Placement date

The time at which the child comes to live with the adopting parents, or in the case of "foster adoption," the point at which the formal status of the placement changes to adoption.

Post-legal adoption services

Services provided subsequent to legal finalization of the adoption, which may be provided by social service agencies, private therapists, mental health clinics, and self-help groups. North Dakota has a formal post-adoption program that is known as the ND Post Adopt Network. Information regarding this service can be found in the links on this page as well as on social media platforms.

Post-placement supervision

The range of counseling and agency services provided to the adoptive parents and adopted child subsequent to the child's adoptive placement and before the adoption is legally finalized in court; social worker reports of this "required supervisory period" are forwarded to the court.


Voluntary termination of parental rights; sometimes referred to as a surrender or as making an adoption plan for one's child.


An attempt, usually by birth parent, adopted person, or adoptive parent to make a connection between the birth parent and the biological child.

Search (as it pertains to adoption)

Procedures, sanctioned in state law, that authorize a public or private agency to assist a searching party to locate another party to the adoption to determine if the second party agrees to the release of identifying information or to meeting with the requesting party.

Special needs children

Children whose emotional or physical disorders, age, race, membership in a sibling group, a history of abuse, or other factors contribute to a lengthy stay in foster care.
In North Dakota (from August 1, 2003 forward), a child may be defined as having special needs for the purposes of adoption assistance if he or she is 1) over the age of seven, 2) a minority race, 3) part of a sibling group being placed together for adoption or 4) has a physical, emotional, or mental disability or is at high risk for such a disability as diagnosed by a licensed physician.

Stepparent adoption

The adoption of a child by the new spouse of the birth parent.

Termination of parental rights (TPR)

The legal process that involuntarily severs a parent's rights to a child.

Waiting children

Children in the public child welfare system who cannot return to their birth homes and need permanent, loving families to help them grow up safe and secure and who have not yet had a family identified who will adopt them.