Domestic Infant Adoption can be a long and challenging process for the gaggles of hopeful adoptive parents out there. Between taking classes, meeting with social workers, and filling out an extra-large-baby-bag-full of paper work, it can seem downright overwhelming at times. Among the cornucopia of items on your adoption to-do list is the authoring of your adoption profile. An adoption profile is an autobiographical letter that serves to introduce yourself to prospective birth parents and create an emotional connection that could lead to placement.
In case you’re wondering if these tips are trustworthy, my wife and I are the proud adoptive parents of our beautiful five-year-old daughter, Madeline, and greatly enjoyed writing our profile. We were fortunate enough to be picked by the very first mother that it was presented to, so it must have been at least somewhat effective. Of course, this doesn’t usually happen. Most adoptive parents should expect their profiles to be shown to many expectant parents before being selected. We were most likely just very lucky. We did, however, pay great attention to these four tips:
1. Just Be Yourself
I remember when first attempting to put pen to paper on our adoption profile, I was terrified at the thought of revealing how utterly boring we were. Instead of traveling the world to experience exotic destinations, parasail over the Grand Canyon, and swim with the dolphins, my wife and I preferred to stay home, have a nice dinner together, watch some television, and go to bed at a reasonable time (yawn). Taking walks around the park with the dog and occasionally staying at a bed-and-breakfast for the weekend was about as adventurous as we got.
Thankfully, we wrote the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, because the very reason Madeline’s birth mother picked us was that we seemed “real.”
What expectant mother out there is going to want her child to live such a mundane existence? we asked ourselves. Thankfully, we wrote the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, because the very reason Madeline’s birth mother picked us was that we seemed “real.” She said that she liked that we didn’t pretend to be anything we weren’t and that we seemed like real people. This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with writing about parasailing over the Grand Canyon if that’s what you like to do. The moral of the story is to “just be yourself.” There is an expectant mother out there who is looking for a family just like yours, and if you write about who you really are, she will find you—and so will your baby.
2. Picture This
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and they’re probably right. Include plenty of pictures in your profile. Show prospective birth mothers who you are, and you never know when something in one of those pictures may resonate. I remember our social worker telling us that she knew one birth mother picked her baby’s adoptive parents because of the argyle socks the husband was wearing. Seems like a strange thing to identify with, but there must have been something about those socks that just struck the right chord with her.
Be especially careful in the selection of pictures you include in your profile.
It’s also important to remember to be especially careful in the selection of pictures you include in your profile. Be very aware and considerate of the situation and emotions of a woman considering an adoption placement for her baby. Remember, she is experiencing a whirlwind of emotions while making this ultimately selfless and truly courageous decision. The parents of the baby may not be married, so it’s usually a good idea to not include wedding photos. Leave things like alcohol or wine bottles out of your pictures because that’s just generally not the best foot to put forward anyway. We were told not to include pictures of my rather large, extended family, but ultimately decided that we wanted to show how much love and support a child would have with such a large group of caring family members. This gamble obviously paid off for us, but the decision is always up to you.
3. No Dogs Allowed
Okay, that’s not necessarily true. However, it is important to remember that just because you think your purebred shih tzu is the most adorable thing on the planet, a pregnant mother may not. Truth is, my wife and I assembled at least two or three rough drafts of our profile before we settled on the final draft. In the first one, we dedicated an entire page to our basset hound, Bella. While we thought this was hysterical and wonderfully representative of the “dog people” we are, we decided that giving Bella (as beautiful as she may be) her own page was overkill. The expectant mother may think something like, “Okay, they seem like nice people, but a little too dog crazy. What if they pay more attention to the dog than my baby?” We decided to include Bella in a few of our pictures and mention her a time or two throughout the profile, but leave out her own dedicated page of content.
4. Personality over Polish
We heard of a lot people seeking out professional services to have their profile written. It was actually a little intimidating for us when we saw how perfectly laid out and exquisitely executed they were. We chose to do our profile without any professional help. I wrote most of the content and my wife learned the publishing software to put it all together. The end result was a profile that had a very nice personalized feel to it. It wasn’t as grand and perfectly polished as some of the professional samples we saw, but I think that worked in our favor—especially when you consider that our daughter’s birth mother picked us because we seemed “real.” In the end, it’s all up to your preference, but personality over polish was what worked for us.
In the end, it’s really up to you to decide how you want to present yourself and your family to prospective birth mothers. These four items are merely general guidelines about what worked for me and my wife. As I said, the right birth mother will find you if you are just honest and show who you really are. I’d be curious if any prospective birth mothers out there could provide some insight as to what, specifically, they look for in profiles. Or, for adoptive parents like myself, what do you think worked for you? For a great resource on writing adoption profiles, check our our guide on the topic.