So you’ve decided that adoption is the way to build your family. You’re thrilled at the prospect of taking home your new little baby or child, and you can’t wait to get started. But you’re also scared. What if no birth parent picks you? How can you compete with all of these other profiles? You think there are so many wonderful families, there’s no way you will ever be chosen. So here you are, looking up ways to make your adoption profile stand out.

There are so many suggestions on what you should do. I’m here to tell you what NOT to do. I went through hundreds of profiles when I was searching for a family for my birth daughter, and many of my birth mother friends did the same. Here is a list of things that we found annoying.

1. Don’t include too many posed photos.  

Yes, your husband’s hair is perfect and you look like the cover girl on a country album. Awesome. But that’s not going to stand out. We want to see you. We want to see you doing things you love, being silly, being yourself. We don’t care if the couple we place with looks wonderful posing in the middle of a field. We care that you like to waterski, or play the ukulele, or paint your house. We want pictures of that. Feel free to throw in a cute professional family photo, just don’t only include those.

2. Don’t put us down.  

It is easy for an expectant parent to get their feelings hurt. There are many things that you might not realize are demeaning. One of those things is spending a lot of time talking about your income. Yes, we want our children to be financially stable. But that is not the sole reason we place. Money does not make a good parent. I did not place my birth daughter because I couldn’t afford her. Please don’t insinuate that that’s why we do it.

Another common phrase that hurts is “We will love our baby more than anyone else/more than you can imagine.” Ahem. Remember me? The birth mom who loves her baby so much she is ripping her own heart out for the sake of her child? I think I love her just as much as you will. And I’m pretty sure I can imagine the love.

3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. 

You’re not comfortable with in-person visits? Tell us. You’d rather wait and let the child decide if they want to find us when they’re adults? Tell us. Of course, there is a fear that saying you’re more comfortable with a closed or semi-closed adoption will turn expectant parents off. But consider how hurt they would be if you made a promise you could not keep? Honesty will save both parties a broken heart. We want your honesty, and nothing more.

4. Don’t try to be anything else but you. 

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I know you’re just a person. I know that your other children probably make you want to pull your hair out. I know you’re scared to be a first-time mom or dad. You probably have stained carpet and a short temper. You don’t have to list every flaw, but you don’t need to try to be perfect. We’re not looking for families with spotless houses and angel children. We’re just looking for people to be good parents who love their kids. Being real means you are leveling with us and treating us as equals. We need that. And you will find that the things that make you you—your love of hiking, or green tea, or Grey’s Anatomy—will draw the right people to you. We want to know who you are, the good and the bad.

Putting yourself out there is scary. It means waiting. It means rejection. It means being vulnerable. Own that. Be who you are, and someone, sometime, will be looking for a mom and dad for her baby who are just like you. Good luck!

Are you ready to begin your domestic infant adoption journey? Click here to connect with an experienced, compassionate adoption professional who is ready to help guide you down the pathway to adoption.