What types of things should you consider when you’re choosing the perfect picture for your adoption profile?

I’ve sat in on a lot of panels and when birth parents were asked what drew them to their adoptive couple, they usually gave an answer similar to, “Something just felt right about them.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Christian and I believe firmly in the importance of inspiration and prayer when birth parents are making decisions like this, but let’s face it– birth parents are humans, and every human needs a little help in directing their attention. So how do we direct their attention?

First thing’s first: make your profile something that STANDS OUT from the rest. That is the absolute most important thing. Stand out! Stand out! Stand out! Ask yourself what makes your picture DIFFERENT than all the other pictures you will be listed with.

Browse through a bunch of potential adoptive parent profiles and you’ll see that the majority of people do the same thing: posing together like it’s their engagement photo or, if they have kids, posing like a family photo that will go on the wall. Taking a picture on the grass, in a professional studio, and near the fireplace are all examples of things that look nice but are done so often that they don’t stand out when you’re next to a bunch of other profiles. If you choose to pose a picture like this, make sure there is something about the picture that is not only unique, but catches the eye– something you’re holding or something about your background.

Keep in mind the size that your picture will be when it’s posted among so many others. This is so very important and is often overlooked. Most agency websites give a small space so that 10 or more profiles can appear listed together. That means that your front picture, the one that’s supposed to catch attention, is going to be pretty small. Remember: Don’t be too far away in the picture or you won’t be able to see anything but tiny people when the picture is posted. Full body shots, or even waist-up shots, make you very small. Also, and this is very important, keep in mind that the front profile picture for most agency websites is SQUARE, not rectangular. If you don’t crop it square, you will have a lot of white space above and below your picture, making your tiny picture even smaller. This seems to be a problem that about 80% of the profiles don’t take into account, so cropping it to fit the square automatically makes your picture one of the biggest, which means you stand out even more.

Ask yourself: If I were a birth parent, what qualities would I be looking for in an adoptive parent? When we’re choosing a picture to share with others, we tend to think “I want to choose a picture where I don’t look too fat or my hair isn’t ugly,” but birth parents are more likely to think more along the lines of “a couple that is fun” or “a family that is really close.” Does your picture say that? Again, a formal pose in front of a formal backdrop says “beautiful,” but it doesn’t stand out and it doesn’t say “fun” or “closely-knit family.”

Along with asking yourself what you want your picture to say, ask yourself what you are afraid it will say. Personally, my wife and I were not afraid of the word “corny.” We’ve been through the process twice, and both times our pictures could have easily been categorized as corny. Guess what, though… our corny pictures stood out! Corny isn’t bad. Boring is bad. Of course, corny isn’t the same as stupid. Don’t make yourself look like an idiot just to catch attention. Exercise common sense if you hope someone will choose you to parent their child.

The profile picture is extremely important. You get one second or less to catch somebody’s eye if they are browsing a big list of profiles. Birth parents aren’t going to spend time on profiles that don’t catch their interest quickly. Take it seriously. If you don’t have a nice camera, find someone who does. Nothing says “I don’t care” like using a camera phone or posting a blurry picture. All of your friends know how important your adoption is to you, so they’ll help you out if you don’t have a nice camera.

 Click here for part 2.