By now, you’ve chosen domestic adoption, you’ve started your home study, and you’ve picked your professional. At this point, you create your profile.
In private domestic adoption, your profile is what expectant parents look at to determine if you are the right family for them. In foster adoption, the profile may be used by the social workers to determine if your family is right for a particular child. It may also be given to an older child to allow that child to get to know you better.
Private Adoption Profiles
The adoption profile is a document from 2-20 pages in length that shows who you are as a person, couple, or family. The adoption profile usually includes your “Dear Birth Mother Letter.” Although a woman isn’t a birth mother until she gives birth and relinquishes, the moniker “Dear Birth Mother Letter” remains, though more people are choosing to call it a “Dear Birth Parent” letter. When it comes to writing said letter, I highly recommend the book “Reaching Out,” by Nelson Handel. Its length will be dictated by your adoption professional. Its contents are totally up to you. What should go in it? Well, what would you want to know about the people you were choosing to parent your child?
- Don’t start with “Dear Birth Mother” or “Dear Friend.” A woman isn’t a birth mother until she’s placed her child, plus, addressing the letter to only her cuts out the expectant father, as well as any family members or friends who may be helping the expectant mother during this time. Also, this woman is not your friend (yet). Instead, start with a simple “Hello” or similar greeting. We started off with “Salutations! That’s our fancy way of saying hello.” We then went on to explain that the greeting is a quote from Charlotte’s Web and why that’s important to us.
- Don’t pretend you know how she feels – unless you are also a person who faced an unplanned pregnancy and considered or chose adoption.
- Be yourself! If you’re not particularly religious, don’t pretend to be. In fact, never pretend to be anything you’re not. Include pictures doing hobbies you actually enjoy, with people you actually know. I’ve heard of couples taking pictures of other people’s houses so they look better. Don’t be one of those couples. Your house is just fine.
- Include pictures of yourselves with children. If you already have children, that’s pretty easy to do. If you don’t have children, you hopefully have nieces, nephews, younger siblings, cousins, or children of friends around. Now, if you don’t spend a lot of time with these kids, don’t overdo it. But you do want to show that you’re comfortable with small human-type mammals.
- Find a grammar nazi and ask that person to read your text. If you don’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your,” find someone who does. Even if you think you’re a super speller and have great grammar, all important documents should be proofread. You want to make sure that people know you are smarter than a fifth grader.
Foster Adoption Profiles
For foster adoptions, prospective parents are often asked to put together a short scrapbook to show to the children who will be coming into their care. Your social worker should be able to tell you what should go in it. This document isn’t to “sell” you as a family. It should allow the children to familiarize themselves with you prior to placement. For international adoptions, prospective parents may be asked to create a short scrapbook like this as well.
When it comes to content, think about the age of the child you want to adopt. Now, think about yourself at that age. What would you want to know about the family who might adopt you forever?
- Don’t overwhelm the child with too much of anything—too many family members, too many words, too many pictures of your pets. Choose pictures wisely. Show the most important people in your lives.
- Don’t emphasize your possessions or how much money you have. You probably want to include your house and the child’s room, but you don’t want the kid to think you’re the dad from Silver Spoons.
- Keep it simple. Include your home, neighborhood, pets, close friends and family members, as well as pictures of you enjoying regular hobbies.
- Include some interesting information about yourselves. What are your favorite foods? Your favorite movies or TV shows? Your favorite things to do? Even if you will be adopting a child who can’t read, the child’s current foster parent could read this information to the child.
How Do I Make a Profile Book?
Now you have an idea of what to put in the adoption profile. But how do you make it? Well, that depends on your skill level.
I love scrapbooking, so I made our profiles. The first time, I used actual paper. The second time, I used a program called Memory Mixer. You could also use Apple’s Pages or even Microsoft Word. This gives you total control over your end product, but it is very time consuming.
Many people use photo web sites, such as Mixbook, Shutterfly, and Snapfish. These sites offer photo album templates, into which you drop your photos. Different sites offer different levels of customization. I have to admit, I don’t like this approach because I like total control over my content and layout. But if you’re not quite so demanding, you might find these sites work for you. They take a lot of the guesswork out of layout and design.
These days, there are also adoption profile creation services—individuals who create adoption profiles for a price. If you want more control over the end product, but you find the idea of creating your own profile daunting, these services may be for you.
No matter what you choose, make sure that you can obtain high-resolution digital copies and hard copies of your profiles. Many photo sharing sites do not allow you to download high resolution copies of your albums, but a few do.
You should now have a basic idea of what to include in your adoption profile and how to create it. If you have any other questions, please comment. I’d love to answer them!