The internet has changed adoption drastically in the last decade or more. To give you a little background, we have three children who came to us through domestic adoption as infants. Domestic adoption, also known as private infant adoption, was different when we adopted our first two children.
When our first child was born, we only had a physical profile to show birth parents. We printed out our adoption profile using a home printer and inserted some digital photos in the text. At the time, that was really the only way to connect with birth parents, unless you had a personal connection to a birth parent. Even when our first baby was born in the hospital, we had cell phones to call family, but other than that, we had no outside contact with the world. So it was a very private affair, both for the birth mother and for us, and in some ways, that was good. At the time, no one I knew was using social media to show their profile, and you didn’t have people accessing the internet on their phones. In other words, the internet was available, but not everywhere, and social media had not become the standard sharing tool it has today.
Cut to 2017, when our third child, who we adopted, came into our family. Not only did the internet and social media play a big part in it, but it ultimately shaped a lot of things in our adoption—our fundraising took off, we were able to leverage incredible support from our friends and families, and we utilized the internet to our advantage when it came to communication.
Yet at the same time, we struggled through some issues of privacy and figuring out how much to share, both for our adopted child and for his birth parents. So how do we continue to harness the power of the internet while considering some of the issues like privacy?
Today, we’ll focus on the advantages of how the internet and social media can help you through the adoption process. This includes how to leverage the power of the internet to tell your story and the ways you can create greater opportunities for getting your adoption profile out there.
Your adoption story is not only a compelling and powerful tool to get community support, but it’s also a wonderful legacy to give your kids someday. They need to hear your story about how you started down this adoption path. As you write your adoption profile, consider this a way to create a memory for a lifetime.
Telling Your Adoption Story
The most powerful tool you have is your story, and we’ve never lived in a better time for telling our stories. The internet gives us an unprecedented power to share our stories online with an audience of people for free. You don’t need to spend a dime to share your story on social media, and the more people who share it, the more eyes will see it. This means you have a greater chance of being seen by a birth parent who is looking for an adoptive family.
Your adoption story is compelling and inspiring. Sharing why you decided to adopt and what steps led you to this turning point is a fascinating journey. One of the best things you can do is tell your story in an authentic way and share that story with others. This is a powerful tool for communicating the “why” behind your adoption journey.
How Does Sharing Your Story Help You Adopt?
Sharing your adoption story can help you in a number of ways. It can help you fundraise through online fundraising platforms or fundraising events. It can increase your chances of finding a birth family to connect with. It can help you with grant applications for adoption, or you can use it with your online adoption profile. There are so many places you can use your story to help build support, connect with others, and to raise funds for adoption.
We didn’t have the advantages of using an online fundraiser for our first or second adoptions. In fact, when we were trying to raise the last bit of money for our second adoption, we had to use word of mouth, which can be really challenging because you are limited to the circle of people you know.
But when we adopted a third time, we used an online fundraising site where we were able to share our personal story. I can’t tell you the number of people who heard we were adopting through social media that contributed to our adoption fund. By linking our fundraising site to our social media accounts and then posting regular updates and sharing the link, we were able to quickly raise the needed funds.
No matter what ways you choose to fundraise, I believe the key to any successful fundraiser is getting your story out there. The internet is one of the easiest ways to accomplish that. It was enormously helpful to be able to share our story with hundreds of people. The key to being successful with a fundraiser is telling your story in a compelling way and really connecting with people through your story. The same applies if you’re doing a garage sale fundraiser, a food fundraiser, or any type of event—you don’t just want to advertise your fundraiser, you want to share the why behind it.
But that begins with first writing your story. So, how do you tell your story in a compelling way? Rest assured, you don’t have to be a perfect writer to share a great story. The bigger thing is that you share authentically and that you cover three main things in your adoption profile.
Three Questions to Answer in Your Adoption Story
In order to write your adoption story, you should cover three essentials. The first question to ask yourself is: What dreams did we have about our family early on?
This could be when you were younger, or if you’re married, when you became a couple. For me, I had always dreamed about being a mom since I was a little girl, and I reflected on my dreams of how I thought life would turn out.
It’s good to go back to the beginning of your story and imagine what life would look like. This helps give us some background and understand why you’re willing to go through this process of adopting a child. It also draws people in because they relate to that dream too, so you’re connecting with them on an emotional level. In other words, paint a picture of what your hopes and dreams are for having a family and then explain what has kept that from happening.
Here’s an example of what this might look like: “When my husband and I got engaged, we dreamed about having a family. I imagined what the nursery would look like and the cute little baby clothes folded neatly in their dressers. But as time passed, we realized that our dream was not coming true the way we thought. But the ache for a child was still there; we longed to hold a baby in our arms.”
That’s just one example of how you can share your dream of what you envisioned for your family. From then on, you can give more details about why things didn’t work out as planned or how life took a different path from what you expected.
That actually leads us to the second key thing that should be in your story and that’s answering a simple question: Did anything keep you from fulfilling those dreams?
In the writing world, we call this an obstacle. So for our family, our obstacle was finding out there were some health issues that made it unlikely that we’d have biological children. That’s part of what led us to adopt.
In order to talk about your personal obstacles, it helps to sit down with your spouse and talk through what you’re comfortable sharing. Some people are comfortable sharing that they’ve gone through miscarriages or infertility, and some are not. You don’t have to give all the details, but I do think giving some of the emotions behind your decision is important.
The third question that you should answer for your adoption story is: What led you to consider adoption?
Sometimes there’s a specific event that helped open your eyes to what adoption was. For us, we had traveled on a mission trip and worked in an orphanage, and that’s really where my heart was opened up to the possibility of adoption.
If there’s no specific event, or if it happened slowly, you can share that too. The key is taking your audience on a journey of how you discovered this was the next right thing for your family.
To recap, the three key things that you need to include in your adoption story to make an impact are:
1. Sharing a story that draws people into what your dream was for your family.
2. Obstacles that are in the way of that dream.
3. How you’re trying to fulfill the dream through adoption and what led you to that.
After you’ve written your story, you can use this story as a template for your online search through fundraising sites, finding birth parents, sharing with your friends and family, and even applying for grants. Your story is your greatest tool because people want to know the “why” behind your adoption. That’s what gets to their hearts. When you touch them emotionally, they will become your greatest cheerleaders.
I also recommend that before you put your adoption story online, you may want to share it with a friend or family member who could help you with wording or editing. People want to help you on your adoption journey and if you have any friends who are good writers, they may be able to offer suggestions so your story can make the most impact.
When we adopted our first child, we didn’t have an online profile. Our profile was only available through our adoption agency and that was really limiting. Because we couldn’t put it out in the world, it was limited to only birth parents who came to our adoption agency. So this third time around, it was a totally different situation because it was online. When you have your story written and you have pictures to include, you can use that story any place you feel comfortable, including whatever social platforms you are on. Adoption.com also has online profile pages you can use to connect with birth parents and that would be a great place to share your story.
Don’t Forget Your Audience
We also used our story on our online adoption profile and then included our best family pictures. That’s another part of telling your story so it stands out—finding good pictures that show your family’s personality and that tell some of your history.
If you’re writing this for your adoption profile and you hope that birth parents will read it, you’ll want to include some of the hopes and dreams you have for your children, whether that’s traveling, bike rides, or playing sports together. You really want to paint a picture of what your family dreams are and how you hope to share a wonderful life with your child. So always consider your audience as you adapt your story for various people.
However you decide to use your adoption story, whether it’s for fundraising or to let friends and family know about your future plans, keep in mind that posting your story once is probably not enough. Because of the massive amount of information available online, only a small group of people will see your post at any given time. For maximum effectiveness, you should really post it regularly if you want a larger group of people to see it, and try to do so on different days and at different times, so you will have the most impact. Of course, sharing your story with hundreds of people does mean that your story is not private, so only pursue this if you are comfortable with sharing it.
The wonderful thing about this process is once you write your story, you can continue to use it even after your adoption is finalized as a way to help your children know the story of how they came into your family. So don’t look at the adoption story process as a one-time event, but look at it as something that will be shared for years to come.
If you want to see more examples of adoption profile stories, check out our waiting families who are currently featured on our website.