What is an adoption family profile or adoptive family profile?
You have decided to work on an adoption plan and the time has come to find a family to take with you on your adoption journey. If you are using social media sites to find an adoptive family, you may be bombarded with adoptive family information that tells you more about a couple, a single person wanting to adopt, or a family who might already have children. These people may put an adoption family profile on a social media page or a website to match with an expectant mother. If you are working with an agency or adoption attorney, you may be shown or sent hard copies of family profiles or receive electronic copies through email or a website. These profiles will vary based on the things you said you were looking for in an adoptive family and what is most important to you. The topics may range from race, how many children the couple currently has, what part of the country the couple lives in (or how close in proximity you would like them to be), and what type of family unit they are, just for starters. Before looking at an adoption family profile, take some time to make a list of things you are looking for in an adoptive family or qualities you would like them to possess, and keep the list in mind as you look at the various profiles. To follow are some things to look for when reviewing family profiles.
#1: Start with a quick view and then investigate further
Much like wanting to know the ending of a book, some expectant mothers and fathers cannot resist the urge to rush through a family profile to see if it fits the list of things they are looking for in an adoptive couple or family. If you like to Google what happens at the end of your favorite reality show or like to take a peek at the end of a book to see what happens to the main character, this step speaks to you! You may be anxious to see the basics of each family before you dive into a full profile. This is a perfectly normal and understandable action to take at the beginning of your adoption family profile journey. With your list in mind, take a minute or two to flip through the pages of the book to quickly look at pictures, captions, and other eye-catching information in the family’s book or online profile. You may see things initially that you are drawn to, or you might find yourself immediately seeing something that was not on your list. For example, your adoption specialist might have presented you with a family who has another child, even though you said that you wanted your child to be the first one in the family. This does not mean that the adoption professional you are working with did not listen to you. Most agencies or attorneys might present you with one or two families who are outside of your parameters so that you can make sure that you have thought through all scenarios for your child. If you do a quick look and cannot immediately see your child in that family, you may choose to set that profile aside and move on or look at it later if desired.
#2: Yes, no, or maybe?
As you are looking through adoption or adoptive family profile books, put them in piles of yes, no, or maybe whether mentally or physically so that you can refer to them at a later point. You can keep a list on a piece of paper or, if you have physical books, you can make stacks of ones you want to set aside and ones you want to take a closer look at. If your heart and mind say yes to a family, put them in the yes pile. You can have more than one yes at first and then take a closer look to narrow it down. If you take the time to look at the profile and there are a few things that make you think it is not the perfect fit but something is telling you the family is not a no, you can put the profile in the maybe pile. Lastly, the no pile is the stack of profiles that might be a perfect fit for another expectant mother but are not a match for you. Once you finish looking at all the profile books, go back to your maybe and yes piles and narrow them down one by one until you get to your final two choices. We will discuss the final steps in a bit.
#3: Just the basics
The basic things you might look for as you start looking at families include the race of the family, location or type of home, and age. You have probably let your adoption professional know what race of family you are looking for in a prospective couple. If you are African American, it may be important to you that one or both of the adoptive parents are also of your same race. In looking, you may find biracial couples or couples of another race who have already adopted a child of a different race. As you look at the basics of the racial background of a couple or individual, try to picture your child growing up in that family. You may realize that you have stronger feelings about the race of the couple than you realized, or you may see that something about the family connects you with them outside of their race.
As you think about future visits, it is important to decide if you would like for your child to grow up near to where you currently live. Some expectant mothers find comfort in knowing their child is in the same state; however, other women think of a different state as a fun place for their child to grow up or a new place for them to visit the child in the future. One thing to remember is that you or the family may move in the future so, while this decision is an important one, you may not want to decide about a family solely based on location. Most people are either city, suburb, or country dwellers. You may have always lived in the city and wished you lived in the suburbs, or you may have dreamed of having horses and growing up on a farm and would love for your child to have this experience. You may have also grown up in a small town and yearned for the lights of the big city and think this is where you would like your child to grow up. As you look at families, you will notice where they live and how that affects their daily lives. Pay close attention to where a family lives and decide how that impacts your decision.
Age is a factor with some expectant mothers while others do not see it as a deciding factor. You may prefer that the adoptive couple be older than you, which may lead to you initially using age as an important issue. Some women feel that they want a younger couple for various reasons or may prefer to have an older couple with more experience. There is not a right or wrong answer when it comes to the age of a couple. There are pros and cons to youth and experience. When looking at adoption or adoptive family profiles, try not to immediately release a family to the no pile based on age.
#4: Pictures are worth a thousand words
Simply speaking, pictures may often convey as much about a family as their words do. As you look at the photos in a family’s profile, pay attention to the ones they selected as important to them. You might find that some families have many pictures of their extended family and friends, while others focus on things in their life, around their home, or in their environment. Oftentimes an expectant mom will look at a profile book and find warmth from seeing pictures of the couple or family doing various activities or traveling together, while others might focus on the size of the home and its decorations and the places the family chooses to vacation. Some families will choose to have more formal pictures in their profile, while others display selfies and funny-faced photos. While this may not always be an indicator of their personalities, the choices and types of photos in their profile often speak to the environment in which your child will grow up. Many families own pets—dogs, cats, horses, pigs, hamsters, and the like. You will most likely notice in a family profile book that they will include pictures of their pets; however, some birth mothers may find this as a deterrent to selecting the family if she is not a pet person or her family has pet allergies that might be passed on to a child. As with pictures you might post on social media, families take time to select pictures that are important to them, so make note of what pictures they included in their profile book, as they tell a larger story even than they might have intended. When looking at their pictures, ask yourself, “Can I see my child in that picture?” If the answer is yes, you know what pile to put their profile in for further review.
#5: Whether you like to read or not, take in every word
While sitting with expectant mothers and looking over adoption or adoptive family profiles, I have heard many women comment that there are often too many words on the page. Remember that each family took a great deal of time to think about what they wanted to say in their profile, and each word was carefully written for the intention of you and other expectant mothers to read. Most families will write an introduction at the beginning of the adoption family profile or a letter for the expectant mother at the end of the book or profile. In these writings, you will find out more about the family’s motivation for adoption and what is important to them in life. Most people will also include captions around their photos to let you know who is in the picture or where the picture was taken.
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Often couples or families will include a section where they talk about their favorite foods, movies, music, sports, and other fun facts about them. You might find in these lists that you have more in common with the family than you had originally thought. Couples might also include a list of qualities they like about one another, which helps you know more about the couple’s admiration for the other. Adoptive family profiles can show you, through words and phrases, the sense of humor of a family or how conservative or relaxed they are. If the family is strong in a religious belief, you might find Bible verses or inspirational quotes. As mentioned before, take in every word and, if it speaks to you directly, this might be the couple or family for you.
#6: Help! I can’t decide!
Now that you have looked over your stack of adoptive family profiles and put them in mental or physical stacks of yes, no, and maybe, the time has come to narrow them down to help you make a decision. Set aside the no pile and know that those families may not be for you but they would be a perfect match for another expectant mother. Take some time to go through the maybe stack and carefully decide if you want to place them aside or reconsider this family. Once you have your yes pile, go through each book again, carefully taking in the words written and how the pictures describe to you exactly who the family is and what is important to them. Some women connect with one family right away or feel drawn to a certain profile, while others might have it narrowed down to two or three by the end. If you have a friend or family member who is supportive of your adoption journey, it might help to get a second opinion if you are torn between a few families. Remember, however, that at the end of the day, it is you who will be placing your child in the family’s home and establishing a relationship with them throughout your child’s life. If you cannot decide between two families and feel that you need more information, let your adoption professional know that you would like to set up a phone call or video chat with the adoptive family. In doing this, you may ask questions that you felt you needed answers to, or upon hearing their voices, you might realize what individual, couple, or family is the perfect one for you.
Above all, the most important thing to remember before looking at an adoption family profile is to make sure that you are confident in your decision to go forward with an adoption plan. If an agency or adoption professional tells you that you must select a family to receive services and you are still undecided about whether adoption is right for you, this is the time to step back and think about your decision before moving forward. Remember that once you select a family with whom to place your child, you are making a connection with that family. As with any decision in the adoption process, selecting a family is one of the most important steps, and you should allow yourself to take the time you need to make the best decision for yourself and your child.