A - Z of adoption

These are some of the terms and phrases you may encounter during your adoption journey.

AB | C | D |  E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z 


Adoption Act 2014

The Adoption Act 2014 was written to improve and modernise the adoption process and ensure that the needs of the child come first.

Adoption financial support

Adopters do not get paid. In certain circumstances, financial support packages are agreed but generally adopters do not receive any fee or payment. However adopters are entitled to claim Child Benefit and other credits the same as other families.

Adoption Order

When an Adoption Order is granted, the adoptive parent takes over full legal responsibility for the child from both the birth parents and Northamptonshire County Council. You will then have the legal right to make all decisions about the child and their future. The court who made the Adoption Order will give a Celebration Hearing where you and your child will get to meet the magistrate or Judge. Photographs of this event can be positive for the adopted child as they grow up.

Adoption Passport

 All approved adoptive families have the right to an assessment of their needs which will allow them to access a range of support services. This forms part of their overall adoption passport.

Adoption Support Fund

Government funding for children and their adoptive families once an adoption order is granted. This grant  is used to obtain therapeutic support packages.

Agency Decision Maker

A senior manager with delegated authority who makes the final decision on adoption panel recommendations.


To become an adopter, families need to be approved by Northamptonshire County Council. Find out more about the approval process at How do I apply to adopt?



The British Association of Adoption and Fostering.


Care Order and Placement Order

If a court rules that it is not safe for a child to live at home and they need to be placed for adoption, a Care Order and Placement Order can be made. The child is ‘looked after’ by Northamptonshire County Council who becomes the child’s ‘corporate parent’. The council becomes responsible for deciding who the child lives with and has contact with until the Adoption Order is granted. The child will go to live with foster carers, who have been approved by Northamptonshire County Council.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

The CAMHS service helps support the emotional and psychological health of children and young people.

Childcare experience

Any experience of dealing with children and young people could be useful if you are considering adoption. Your childcare experience may have been as a babysitter or looking after relatives or working in the childcare sector.

Corporate Parent

When Northamptonshire County Council takes over legal responsibility of a child in our care, they are referred to as a corporate parent.


Emergency foster care

Emergency foster care is when a child needs to be placed with a foster carer at very short notice, for example if their birth parent is taken ill, or abuse has been uncovered and the child is deemed as being at risk of further abuse.


Foster For Adopt

Fostering for adoption is when a child is placed with adopters who are temporarily approved as the child’s foster carers whilst the court process is still going on.


Interim care order

An interim (or temporary) care order gives the council time to find out more about a child’s welfare to help a court make the right decision about their future. An Interim care order lasts for eight weeks but the court is able to extend this. Social workers have 26 weeks to process a case through court.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

Independent Reviewing Officers make an important contribution to the goal of significantly improving outcomes for looked after children. Their primary focus is to ensure the child’s wishes and feelings are given full consideration. IROs follow a child’s progress through care and out to an adoptive family.

Intercountry adoption (ICA)

Intercountry adoption is when you adopt a child from overseas.


Letterbox contact

Letterbox contact is where secure and confidential indirect contact is kept with a child’s birth parents. This is usually in the form of letters. They are passed on through a Letterbox Coordinator. They seek to assure that details of the adoptive family are kept confidential. It is extremely rare for there to be continued direct contact between the parent and the child.

Life story work

Life story work gathers information about a child and their birth family and background. They may want to talk about this with you throughout their childhood to help them come to terms with what has happened to them and to give them information about their birth family.

Looked After Children (LAC)

When a child is in the care of Northamptonshire County Council, they are described as looked after. We will then build the future that is in their best interest. This could be fostering, adoption or returning to their birth family.   



The Adoption Panel is a group of independent, experienced professionals who recommend whether a potential adopter is approved.

Permanent long term fostering

In some situations, it is better for the child if they are permanently fostered rather than being adopted. A child will remain with the foster carers until they reach adulthood, but their legal responsibility remains with the council.

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

Each child or young person in care receives a Personal Education Plan (PEP). This will help set educational and behavioural targets and will make sure that parents, schools and social workers remain in touch.

Placement order

A Placement Order gives Northamptonshire County Council permission to place a child for adoption.

Police checks

If you want to be approved as an adopter, Northamptonshire County Council must legally carry out a police check on you. This is called DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service - previously Criminal Records Bureau) and will establish if there is anything on your record that means you would not be able to adopt.

Post-adoption support

Northamptonshire County Council prides itself on the support it provides even after children have been adopted.


Special Guardianship

Special Guardianship provides permanence for children for whom adoption or fostering is not the best option. The special guardian is the child’s permanent carer and can exercise parental responsibility to the exclusion of others on most issues.

Support groups

Support groups co-ordinated by  the Adoption Service.  Adopters and their families are encouraged to meet up and gain support from one another.

Support networks

Your support networks are anybody who could provide you with help and support. This could be friends, family or people in the community, or religious groups.



Adoptive families can access a range of support courses providing insight into adoption issues, you can find these on the training courses page.