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Court Cafe Glossary

Abandonment
A parent, caretaker, or legal guardian fails or refuses to physically, emotionally, or financially support his or her child. An abandoned child is one left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision, or whose parent has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of the child. See CGS 17a-112 (j)(3)(A) and 45a-717.
Abuse
Any non-accidental harm inflicted on a person through physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual means. Being abused may cause the victim to develop emotional or behavioral problems, some of which may not appear until later in life.
Acting-out behavior
Children who have suffered abuse may exhibit behaviors that reflect the abuse they have experienced or witnessed. For instance, physically abused children may be more inclined to hit and hurt other children, and sexually abused children may try to engage other children or adults in inappropriate sexual activity.
Adjudicate
The court hears all testimony and sees all evidence and then, decides on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. A juvenile is "adjudicated" when s/he is determined by the judge to be guilty of committing a delinquent act or crime.
Adjudicatory Hearing
The trial part of a juvenile case where testimony and evidence is presented to the judge. The judge reviews and weighs the evidence and testimony. If the judge finds that the evidence and testimony have proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the juvenile is guilty, a finding of delinquency or status offense is made.
Adjudicated Delinquent
A juvenile who has been found by the juvenile court to have committed a crime or delinquent act. The judge can then adjudicate the juvenile. Next, the judge determines the disposition. The judge can impose a sentence or other form of punishment or may decide not to adjudicate the child. Instead, the judge may impose conditions that the juvenile must meet to gain a dismissal of the charges.
Adjustment disorder
The development of emotional or behavioral symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, inappropriate conduct that appear in response to an identifiable stress event that are more intense than one would expect from such a stressor. Children with adjustment disorders may experience significant trouble in school and in social situations.
Adoption Registry
The purpose of the adoption reunion registry is to document the consent or refusal to consent to the release of information which would identify the registrant. The registry will contain: voluntary consents, refusals of consents, and revocations of consent. ~ from the State of Connecticut, DCF Policy Manual concerning the Adoption Resource Exchange.
Adult Adoptions
Adult adoption: Any person eighteen years of age or older may, by written agreement with another person at least eighteen years of age but younger than himself, unless the other person is his or her wife, husband, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the whole or half-blood, adopt the other person as his child, provided the written agreement shall be approved by the court of probate for the district in which the adopting parent resides or, if the adopting parent is not an inhabitant of this state, for the district in which the adopted person resides. Conn. Gen. Stats. 45a-734(a)
All Parents
It is possible that a child for whom the Department of Children and Families has filed a petition in Superior Court for termination of parental rights may not have the identity or the legal rights of the father firmly established. Petitions often name any putative fathers as well as legal fathers, if there is any question as to the identity of the birth father. See birth father, legal father, putative father.
Attention Deficit Disorder
ADD is a lifelong developmental disability in which a child has severe difficulty in focusing and maintaining attention. ADD affects a child's ability to concentrate and to control impulses and behavior. A child with an ADD diagnosis is not hyperactive, but the inability to function at a sustained level of attention often leads to learning and behavior problems at home, school, and work.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is a lifelong developmental disability characterized by inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or some combination of these. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for the child's age and development. Boys are diagnosed more often than girls with ADHD. ADHD often leads to learning and behavior problems at home, school, and work. Scientific studies, using advanced neuro-imaging techniques of brain structure and function, show that the brains of children with ADHD are different from those of other children. These children handle neurotransmitters (including dopamine, serotonin, and adrenalin) differently from their peers. Depression, sleep deprivation, specific learning disabilities, tic disorders, and oppositional/aggressive behavior problems may be confused with or appear along with ADHD.
"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"
This standard, used in a criminal cases, requires that the jury be satisfied "to a moral certainty" that every part of the crime has been proven during the trial. This standard of proof does not require that the state prove the defendant guilty to an "absolute certainty" by eliminating all doubt. The evidence and testimony must be so conclusive that you would be willing to rely on and act upon it without hesitation in the most important of your own affairs.
Birth Family
People who share a child's genetic heritage (blood relations, extended family members, kin).
Birth Parents
A child's biological mother and father.
Blood Relatives
A blood relative is one who is descended from a common ancestor not more than three generations removed from the child . . . . shall include, but not be limited to the father of an illegitimate child who had been adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the father of the child, or who has acknowledged his paternity under the provisions of section 46b-172a, with further relationship to the child determined through the father. Conn. Gen. Stats. 45a-724 (a)(3)

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Caretaker
A person who has agreed to be responsible for the care of a child on an extended basis and who exercises parental authority in the capacity of a guardian.
Closed Adoption
Neither birth parents nor extended biological family have any contact with the adoptive child or adoptive family. They have no information as to the identity of the adoptive family.
Cognitive Delays
Child exhibits less than average development of a his/her ability to process information or think logically or analytically. Treatment may involve alternate learning and coaching.
Community Service
When used as a consequence of criminal or delinquent behavior or as a condition of juvenile probation, community service is unpaid work performed by a juvenile who admits to the delinquency charges and may involve a variety of tasks related to betterment of the community. These can range from litter or graffiti clean-up, acts meant to provide restitution or any other community assistance project under the supervision of the juvenile court or other acknowledged community authority.
Confidential
Confidential is a classification for information - whether verbal, written, recorded or conveyed by any other media - that restricts who may view or learn the information or documents or recorded media it pertains to. When a court proceeding is confidential, that means that the court hearings and court documents are not open to the general public. It also means that careful regard must be given to the discussion or sharing of any information pertaining to the matter said to be confisential. The designation that shall be applied to information or material the unauthorized disclosure of which could be reasonably expected to cause damage. More serious in intent than information desginated "restricted" and but not held to same restrictions as information determined to be "secret".
Conflict Resolution
The use communication skills and creative thinking to develop voluntary solutions that are acceptable to those involved in a dispute.
Consultation
A preliminary exploration of your options, the timetable and the costs of adoption. We will try to answer all your questions about the various adoption methods and options.
Court Diversion
The Court orders an adjudicated youth to make restitution, engage in community service or complete a designated court-sponsored or approved program; usually follows a family and child assessment. Many juvenile cases are resolved this way.
Crisis Intervention
Immediate response to acute critical situations (depressive episodes or attempted suicides or drug overdoses) intended to restore the person to the level of functioning before the crisis.
Custodial Confinement
Placement in a secure facility that is ordered by the Court for the rehabilitation of a juvenile delinquent.
Detention Center
A place where a juvenile is held in state custody. This may be secure, non-secure, or home confinement while awaiting an adjudication hearing, disposition, or commitment placement. Detention can also be used as "timeout" in domestic violence cases and for post-adjudicatory punishment.
Developmental Delay
A child's developmental progress is generally measured against other children of the same age with regard to the development of their age-appropriate skills such as, sitting up, walking, toilet training, and talking.
Discretionary Filings
The state may seek to have the criminal prosecution of a serious, violent or chronic offenses by a juvenile of 14 years of age or older heard in adult court. [more]
Disposition
Stage of the juvenile court delinquency hearing that compares to "sentencing" in an adult trial. In Juvenile Court, the judge considers alternative, innovative, and individualized sentences rather than imposing standard sentences.
Disruption
An adoption disrupts when the adoptive parents, the child, or a legal authority appointed in the child's behalf ends the adoption. An adoption may disrupt due to risk to the adopted child or the adoptive family and may occur before or after finalization.
Due Process
Established through the 5th & 14th amendments to the US Constitution, due process is generally defined to include: the right to a fair and public trial conducted in a competent manner; the right to be present at the trial; the right to an impartial jury; the right to be heard in one's own defense; that laws must be written so that a reasonable person can understand what is criminal behavior; that taxes may only be taken for public purposes; that property may be taken by the government only for public purposes and that the owners of taken property must be fairly compensated.
Emancipation
A action by the court that grants independence to a minor prior to reaching the age of majority (18). The juvenile must meet all requirements before emancipation may be granted. These include the proof that the juvenile has been or can support themselves by legal means and that the juvenile desires emancipation.
Expert Witness
A person who testifies at a trial because she has special knowledge in a particular field. One who is called an expert witness is permitted to state his/her opinion concerning their special knowledge regardless of whether or not s/he were present at the event.
Family with Service Needs
Family With Service Needs (FWSN) legislation is based on the belief that the family as well as the child must be involved in services in order to effectively deal with the child's problematic behavior. A child is said to come from a Family with Services Needs if the child is:
*under age of 16 and *is beyond the control of parent, parents, guardian, or other custodian, or *has without just cause run away from parental home or other properly authorized and lawful place of abode or 8has been truant or habitually truant, or while in school has been continuously and overtly defiant of school rules and regulations or *has engaged in indecent or immoral conduct, or *is thirteen years of age or older and has engaged in sexual intercourse with another person and such other person is thirteen years of age or older and not more than two years older or younger than said child.
Finalization
The legal documentation that makes the adoption final after a period of mutual trial, usually at least six (6) months for infants and twelve (12) months for older children.
Foster Children
A child who has been placed in a state-approved and licensed home charged with the baord and care of that child. A child may be placed in foster care due to abandonment, death, abuse or neglect.
Foster Parents
Adults who have been licensed by the state and who provide board and care for children in need of out-of-home placement. Foster parents receive training, and must successfully complete police and criminal checks as well as have their homes inspected by the state child welfare agency.
Guardian-ad-litem
Generally, the attorney appointed by the Court as the guardian ad litem represents of the child's best interests, while the job of the child's attorney is to be an advocate for the child and the child's wishes. In Connecticut, anyone who cannot communicate their wishes, or who lacks competency to act in their own best interests, may, in order to see that their interests are protected, be given a guardian-ad-litem by the Court. From the Connecticut Probate Practice Book, Rule 1.1.09, "The term Guardian ad litem shall mean a person appointed by the court during any proceeding in which a minor child, undetermined or unborn or class of such person, or a person whose identity or address is unknown, or an incompetent person is a party, to represent and protect the interests of such parties."
Guardianship
"Guardianship" means guardianship of the person of a minor, and includes: (A) The obligation of care and control; (B) the authority to make major decisions affecting the minor's education and welfare, including, but not limited to, consent determinations regarding marriage, enlistment in the armed forces and major medical, psychiatric or surgical treatment; and (C) upon the death of the minor, the authority to make decisions concerning funeral arrangements and the disposition of the body of the minor; Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-604(5) (2003).
Hearsay
Secondhand information that a witness only heard about from someone else and did not see or hear himself.
Home Study
A licensed social worker will conduct several meetings with you to discuss your ability to parent, and your motivation to adopt. A complete medical and personal history, a police check and other documentation may be required.
Identified Adoption
The commissioner or a child-placing agency may place a child in adoption who has been identified or located by a prospective parent, provided any such placement shall be made in accordance with regulations promulgated by the commissioner pursuant to section 45a-728. If any such placement is not made in accordance with such regulations, the adoption shall not be approved by the court of probate. Conn. Gen. Stats. 45a-727(a)(3)

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Joint Custody
After divorce, custody of a child is shared by both parents. This may include either or both legal custody and physical custody.
Judicial Case
Judicial cases are generally those with serious offenses, cases involving juveniles who have prior delinquent convictions or who have an extensive history with the court including non-judicial dispositions and status offenses, and all cases in which the juvenile has denied the charges.
Jurisdiction
Power given by law to judges to exercise authoirty over try and decide cases committed within a specific geographical area or pertaining to a certain type of crime or group of persons.
Juvenile Delinquency
A violation of the law or noncriminal acts committed by a minor that is a crime if committed by an adult.
Kidnap
The forcible and unlawful removal of any person, adult or minor, from his/her home, or a person confined against their will, or by coercion.
Knowledge
Having information as to a matter of fact, knowing facts or information about something or someone. Being aware of the condition or status of someone, something or an act with regard to the legal status or legal consequences.
"Lying in Wait"
Deliberately waiting and watching for an opportune time to act, together with a concealment by ambush or some other secret design for the purpose of murdering or harming another. A state of mind equivalent to premeditation or deliberation.
Majority
The age at which a person is entitled to most legal rights and obligations although some rights or privileges such as the drinking of alcoholic beverages is may be withheld until a later date.
Malice
An evil design, a corrupt and wicked notion or intention, express or implied, to do injury. Any act injurious to another committed without a just cause.
Neglect
Passive indifference to a child's well-being or habitual failure by a parent or caretaker or other responsible for the care and safety of a child to provide and maintain adequate food, clothing, medical care, supervision, and/or education. [more]
Nexus
A connection between members of a group, a link, a bond or binding together. For example, used to describe how a child's connection to the town or school district responsible for his/her education is established. Includes physical neglect, emotional neglect, educational neglect and medical neglect.
Non-judicial
These cases normally include only those matters involving minor offenses and are dealt with by a juvenile probation officer rather than a judge. The probation officer has the authority to dismiss the case, place the juvenile under non-judicial supervision for a period of up to 180 days with conditions, or recommend judicial handling.
Open Adoption
In open adoptions, birth parents and adoptive parents have some knowledge about one another. There is no universally accepted definition of open adoption - as it can take many different forms, and is not legally available in all states. Informal open adoptions occur when relatives (grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc) take responsibility for providing a home and parental guidance to a grand-child, niece, nephew, etc when the birth parents are not available or have not provided appropriate care.
Parent Training
Led by a social worker, prospective parents are offered a classroom opportunity to learn what to expect when their child is placed.
Police Check
You must submit fingerprints to be checked bythe state police or FBI. A name-check may also need to be done.
Post-Placement Services
A social worker will help you and your child ease the stress of adjustment with helpful suggestions on child development, behavior management and family relations.
Pre-adoptive Counseling
A social worker will provide you with information about the adoption process, the issues that face both children and adults in adoptions and helpful information about other services you may wish to access.
"Preponderance of Evidence"
Level of proof required to prevail in most civil cases in which the judge or jury must only be persuaded that the facts are probably true or probably not true. Does not require absolute proof.

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Registry
See Adoption Registry
Rights of Parents [TPR]
The Department of Children & Families, the Court and all attorneys involved must adhere to guidelines set out in the CGS (CT General Statutes), Chapter 319a. Child welfare, 17a-112. Termination of parental rights of child committed to commissioner., Chapter 803. Termination of parental rights and adoption, 45a-708. Guardian ad litem for minor or incompetent parent, 45a-715. Petition to terminate parental rights as well as all basic right to Due Process, Equal protection of the laws, and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees. Parents must be given notice of the hearing on the petition to terminate parental rights and have a right to counsel. For more details, see Rights of Parents in TPR. TPR, a complete severance of the parent-child relationship, and proof of the grounds of the TPR petition must meet, "The constitutional guarantee of due process of law requires that the statutory grounds for termination of parental rights be established by "clear and convincing evidence," not merely a fair preponderance of the evidence."   http://www.jud.state.ct.us/LawLib/
Semi-open Adoption
After a child is placed in the adoptive home, they may be receive letters, pictures or other communications through a third party, sometimes the state welfare agency or the private adoption agency.
Serious Offense
Generally, Class A and B felonies for juveniles under age 14, Class C felonies involving the sale or intent to sell drugs and some offenses involving cars and weapons.
Special Education
All children in Connecticut are entitled to receive special education services if qualified by set criteria. Specialized educational services are designed to address disabilities in intelligence, language skills, perceptive skills, behavior, or social and emotional development that make it hard for a student to learn well in a regular classroom or through usual methods of instruction.
Special Needs
A broad term that describes a wide-range of issues. Children who qualify for special needs adoption are generally between the age of eighteen (18) months and fourteen years old. Many have emotional, physical, or intellectual disabilities, or belong to a sibling group that needs to be placed together. For more in-depth understanding of special needs adoptions, AVAILABLE HERE.
Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of Parental Rights is the complete severance by court order of the legal relationship between child and parent(s) and places the child legally free for adoption. [More on termination of parental rights from the Judicial Branch, State of Connecticut.]
Therapeutic Foster Home
Foster parents who receive special training to parent a wide variety of children, including those who are developmentally delayed, moderately or severely disturbed, delinquent, or medically fragile. Therapeutic foster parents work closely with each child's physician, psychiatric caregivers as well as the state child welfare agency. They are required to receive ongoing training and to actively participate in the child's medical and/or psychological treatment.
Transracial or transcultural adoption
The placement of a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group.
Wrongful adoption
. . . fraudulent concealment by intermediaries (adoption agencies . . .) of material facts about a child or her biological family, usually a hereditary physical or mental condition, which, if disclosed to the prospective adoptive parents, would have resulted in the adoption not taking place. Juman v. Louise Wise Services, 608 N.Y.S.2d 612, 614-615 1994)

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