Adoption Glossary - D

De Facto - A term meaning "in actual fact,” "in deed," or "actually,” regardless of legal or normative standards. In a legal context, the phrase refers to an action or a state of affairs which must be accepted for all practical purposes, but which has no legal basis. A "de facto family" is a "psychological family" in which members have ties to each other even though they are relatives by birth or marriage and do not have a legal document recognizing their relationship.
De Facto Adoption - A legal agreement to adopt a child according to the laws of a particular state which will result in a legal adoption process once the adoption petition is filed with the appropriate court; an equitable adoption.
Decree of Adoption - A legal order that finalizes an adoption.
Dependent Child - A child who is in the custody of the county or state child welfare system.
Developmental Disability - Any handicapping condition related to delays in maturation of or difficulties with skills or intellect.
Differential Response - An area of CPS reform that offers greater flexibility in responding to allegations of abuse and neglect. Also referred to as "dual track" or "multi-track" response, it permits CPS agencies to respond differentially to children's needs for safety, the degree of risk present, and the family's needs for services and support. See "Dual Track."
Disclosure - The release or transmittal of previously hidden or unknown information.
Dispositional Hearings - Held by the juvenile and family court to determine the disposition of children after cases have been adjudicated, such as whether placement of the child in out-of-home care is necessary and what services the children and family will need to reduce the risk of maltreatment and to address the effects of maltreatment.
Disruption - An adoption or potential adoption that fails before finalization.
Dissolution - The term dissolution is used to describe an adoption that fails after finalization, resulting in the child's legal custody reverting back to the agency or court that made the original placement and the child returning to foster care and/or to other adoptive parent(s).
Dossier - The collection of paperwork used in an international adoption that has been properly authenticated and translated.
Down Syndrome - A genetic disorder (caused by the presence of an extra chromosome), which results in physical and mental abnormalities. Physical characteristics include a flattened face, widely spaced and slanted eyes, smaller head size and lax joints. Mental retardation is also typical, though there are wide variations in mental ability, behavior, and developmental progress. Possible related health problems include poor resistance to infection, hearing loss, gastrointestinal problems and heart defects.
Dual Track - term reflecting new CPS response systems that typically combine a non-adversarial service-based assessment track for cases where children are not at immediate risk with a traditional CPS investigative track for cases where children are unsafe or at greater risk for maltreatment. See "differential response."

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