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Glossary: Adoption Key Terms

Complex jargon and terminology can bring about confusion to those who are new to the adoption process.

Adoption agencies in each region of the UK will tend to use certain phrases and words during the process. Blackpool Council Adoption Services want to help you stay as informed as possible throughout all stages of your journey to becoming adoptive parents.

This glossary lists and describes many adoption terms used. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, please feel free to give us a call; we’re here to help assist you adopting a child.

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Adoption Order

A court order that grants a carer, or set of carers the full parental rights and responsibilities to a child or children.

Adoption Panel

This is the panel hearing that recommends the approval of potential adopters. Click here for more information.


To become an approved, the adoptive agency will assess the prospective parent and agree the suitability to adopt. 


Adoption assessment is the process of the local authority or adoption agency assessing a potential carer or carers in preparation for adoption.


Attachment is the emotional bond between two individuals, in the case of adoption, the child and parent.


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – part of the NHS specialising in behaviour, emotional and mental health difficulties in children, and young people.

Care Order

A care order is granted to allow a local authority parental responsibility of the child, and is shared with the birth parents.

Celebration Day

Following the making of the adoption order, the Adoption Celebration Day is overseen by a judge and provides the opportunity for adoptive families to celebrate. This is a day for the children, their family, friends and supporters who are all welcome to come, and can bring cameras, even video cameras, to court.


Contact is where birth parents are given access to their children, often overseen by the local authority, and often at a mutual venue. Contact is often ceased once a placement order has been granted. Indirect contact is promoted via an adoption mailbox, usually on an annual basis. Please see below for mailbox information. 


Child Permanence Report. A form completed by the child’s social worker. It is comprehensive in detail and information pertaining to the child, and the child’s family (birth parents).

Family Finding

This is the process of looking for prospective parents for a child carried out by the agency. Agencies will often have ‘family finding’ teams dedicated to this process.

Fast Track

These are circumstances where the adoption process can be accelerated if you’re an approved foster carer who wishes to adopt, or have adopted previously. Click here for more information.


Fostering is where an approved foster carer provides a stable and safe environment for children who are unable to live at home. This could be on a temporary or permanent basis, or until a permanent adoptive family is found.

Home Study

This is the process of completing the prospective adopters report (PAR) by the visiting social worker to discuss various issues relevant to adoption.


This is the period of time when approved adopters get to know the child(ren) they will be adopting.


Looked After Children. This means children who are cared for by the local authority.

Later Life Letter

This is a letter addressed to the child that should be opened at a time when they can better understand how they came to be adopted. It explains why the child was adopted, and clarifies the actions leading up to the decision. This letter is written by the child's social worker.

Life Appreciation Day

Prior to a placement being made, a life appreciation day provides an opportunity for prospective adopters to meet significant people in the child’s life and to gain a better understanding of the child and their needs. 

Life Story Book

This is a book that is put together initially by the child’s social worker to record major events, and the history of the child as before they becamse adopted. It also helps the child understand more about who they are, and where they come from. Foster carers usually contribute to the early part of the life story book. 

Mailbox (also known as Letterbox)

Mailbox contact provides communication via post between the adopters and the birth family. It allows the adoptive family and the birth parents / siblings to exchange information regarding the child’s progress and vice versa. The mailbox service is facilitated by Blackpool Council. 


Matching is the formal process of identifying a suitable adoptive family for a specific child.

Matching Panel

This is the panel that will recommend a match between prospective adopters and a child.

Placement Order

A court order that authorises the local authority to place a child for adoption with a suitable family. 

Preparation Training

This forms part of the adoption process. During stage one of the process, prospective adopters will be invited to preparation training groups. They are designed to engage, provide information and prepare prospective adopters for all aspects of the adoption process. The format of the groups varies between local authorities.

Prospective Adopters Report

This is called PAR for short. This report is completed by the allocated social worker during the home study process and presented to adoption panel in relation to the adopter's approval. 


Is there a term you would like explaining that is not listed within this glossary? Give us a call today on 01253 477888 or Contact Us here.

Do you need more information?

Start the conversation by giving us a call on 01253 477888 or alternatively, request a free callback and we'll be in touch with you as soon as possible, within 5 working days.

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