A “Dear Expectant Parent Letter” is a great networking tool; it’s a way for you to share bits and pieces about yourselves. Every hopeful adoptive family has a letter, but how do we get people to read it? From the moment an expectant parent makes a connection with an adoptive family, a relationship is built. Here are a few tips on upgrading your letter so that you can make that connection.

Begin by addressing your readers by who they really are, not what they may or may not become. Starting out your letter Dear Birth Parents or Dear Birth Mom can be offensive for a few reasons.

Expectant parents do not become birth parents until after they have relinquished their parental rights. If you just say birth parent, you are cutting out one of the parents and implying that there is only one parent around to make an adoption plan. Starting your letter to a birth mom is stating that the father is out of the picture and he does not deserve the respect making their adoption plan. You never want to assume that birth fathers are out of the picture.

Regardless of who is considering adoption for their child, they deserve honesty and respect from hopeful adoptive parents. Put yourself in expectant parents’ shoes: Could anything be taken offensively? Does your letter shed a positive or negative light on expectant parents and birth parents?

Thank them for taking the time to look at your profile. Do not say you “understand” what they are going through. Unless you have placed a child for adoption, you don’t understand. Thank them for considering an adoption plan for their child.

Talk about your family, in not so many words. Remember your letter should be a short, sweet teaser. If they like you, they can look into your adoption blog to learn more. Share you thoughts on the kind of relationship that you would like to have with birth parents and their families. Do not make promises you know you cannot keep. Under promise, over deliver.

Tell them you look forward to meeting them.

Wish them well or end with a motivational quote.

Adoption plans are not made lightly on either side. If we start our letters with respect and love, that will continue into our relationships. Opening your heart and sharing your feelings about adoption and family will make you “real” to expectant parents. Showing that you care about expectant parents will gain trust that you will care for them after they have become birth parents.

When you show your true feelings, you are better able to make a connection with expectant parents and build meaningful relationships that can continue long after they read your letter.