So you’ve completed some of the hardest parts in your adoption journey (like your home study–isn’t that so nice that it’s behind you?), and you’re ready to meet your potential birth parents. Well, I will say that this might not be an easy part, but you can do some things to make it easier. Read on to find out how having an online profile, using social media, and correctly interacting with potential birth parents can help you match with the right birth family.
1. Starting An Online Profile
Once you have an official home study completed, you can now start up your online profile. While some years before it was common to create a physical book that shares information all about your family, these days more people use online profiles. There are great benefits that come with an online profile. For starters, more potential birth parents will view your profile. It’s also easier to pass along through friends and families.
The demise of physical books may have you thinking that you can’t be nearly as creative with your profile. But you would be wrong. If you work with a service like Parent Profiles, you can have tons of customization options available to you to help you stand out.
Utilize all parts of your profile because it’s what gets potential birth parents to meet with you. Think of this as a pre-first impression. What would you want a potential birth parent to know about you? You may consider writing a list of top qualities that describes your family and breaking down how you can demonstrate those qualities in your profile.
Your profile should, at the minimum, include photos of your family, recommendations, and a “Dear Expectant Parent” letter. But the more you can share, the better, which is why Parent Profiles offers favorite pins, videos, endorsements, blog posts, about page, and more to make sure your profile stands out in all the ways possible.
Here’s the thing though–you can have all the bells and whistles available to you, but if you’re not using them to their fullest potential, it won’t do you any good. So keep reading for a few tips to help make your profile stand out and be it’s best representation of your family.
And be sure to check your state’s laws to determine if having an online profile is legal, as some states consider this as advertising which may be illegal.
Just Be Yourself
If you want to find the right match for your family, you have to be you. All of you. Sure, you don’t have to go into the messy details of your life, but you should be sharing the real you. The details that make your family special. You never know what kind of connection you’ll make with someone who also shares your unhealthy love for salt and vinegar flavored chips or an obsession over the latest Star Wars news. Share your quirks, funny memories, special moments, the things you value, and your passions.
Get Your Profile Reviewed
Have a birth mother and/or other adoptive parents look over your profile. Parent Profile offers this service as part of their packaging, but there are many in the adoption community who would be happy to review your profile for you. They should be on the lookout for positive adoption language, making sure you’re being you in your profile, and what areas need to be strengthened. You may also wish to have an editor of some kind review your profile for any grammar or clarity issues in your profile.
Include a variety of pictures. You should have professional photos in your profile, but don’t forget to share those candid moments that show what everyday life is like in your family. Photos are what will put words to a face, so they are a non-negotiable part of your profile. You may also want to include photos of your home area, your children, other relatives or friends that your child would interact with regularly. Make sure that your photos are clear and of good quality. And if you can, include captions that fill in the stories happening in your photos.
The Magic Formula
Although there are ways that can help you have a good profile, there’s no cut-and-dried way about making your profile. There’s no “formula” that’s proven to attract more potential birth parents. Just like every family is different, so is every birth parent. Remember that you’re not creating your profile to attract all potential birth parents, but the right potential birth parent.
Online Profile Hosting
If you have an online profile, be sure to host with a website that is getting viewed by potential birth parents. You want a high-trafficked site to host your profile, because otherwise, what’s the point of having it online if no one sees it?
Be thorough and to the point in your letter. The “Dear Expectant Parent” letter is one of the most vital things about your profile. Think of it as the first conversation with a potential birth parent. Does writing your letter have you nervous? Don’t worry we’ll go into more detail in a later section.
Make A Video
Make a video about your family. Videos are the perfect way to share more about your family. Not only can it show how you interact in your home, but your voices will be heard and your personalities can become clear. Don’t be intimidated by video, it can be done!
Videos are meant to be conversational. You want to use them to show who you are. If you say you love to do something, do that thing in your video. Videos shouldn’t just be of a conversation, but should show that if you love jetskiing, you go out and jetski. If you need some inspiration, check out this family’s video or this equally adorable one. If you’re less inclined to create your own video, some places offer services to help you.
Other things to keep in mind is to be mindful of noisy areas and other environments that might not look appealing in your interview. Choose the clothing you wear carefully, and don’t be shy in front of the camera. Choosing the right person to help you create your video can help you avoid shyness.
Invite a family member or friend and make a day of making a video for you. There are free video editing services (like iMovie or Movie Maker), that are easy to use to add the final touch ups in your video. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many who are supporting your adoption journey who would love to help.
If you’re not already a pro blogger, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean that you can’t blog. In fact, you probably have more to say than you realize. And it’s easier than you realize, too. Attaching a blog to your profile can help you share what’s currently happening in your life. It can also be a great place to share your adoption journey with family and friends.
The first step to starting a blog is find what platform you would like to use. If you’re more tech-savvy, WordPress has great free and paid options. For more user-friendly services, try Weebly or Blogger to start up a free blog. Then you’ll need to get your own domain, which is also available in free and paid options, though a paid option is often recommended since it can be cheap and more easily found on the internet.
After you have your blog designed in a way that’s suitable to you, start making content. Unsure what to share? Try writing about your adoption journey thus far, talk about why you want to adopt, share what you hope to do with your future child, write about what you’ve been learning about adoption (open adoptions, positive adoption language, etc). You should also share some day-to-day activities and big events in your family’s life. Your blog should have many photos to accompany each post. And don’t forget to ask friends and family to share your blog, too. You never know if your blog may reach your potential birth parent.
A couple other things to keep in mind when you create your blog: share whatever contact information you’re comfortable with or have a contact page. Be consistent in your posts and always, always remember to be you!
2. Dear Expectant Parent Letter
The “Dear Expectant Parent” letter, also known as the “Dear Birth Parent” letter, is so important that it needed it’s own section. Here are a few ideas and suggestions to help you write the perfect “Dear Expectant Parent” letter.
Address It Correctly
Birth parents aren’t birth parents until they’ve placed their child. So it’s best to address the letter as “Dear Expectant Parent” or just a simple “Hello” will work. This is part of the positive adoption language that you should familiarize yourself with as you go into the adoption world.
I know. You’re probably tired of hearing about how you have to “be you” in your adoption profile, but it really is the best advice you can take for creating the your perfect profile. Just imagine if you were a potential birth parent and you viewed a couple’s profile, but when you met the couple, they were nothing like their profile? A bit misleading, right? So, be you!
You Don’t Know How The Potential Birth Parents Feel
Time for some real talk. You might be thinking that it would be nice to say that you understand what she is going through, but the truth is unless you’ve placed a child yourself, you really have no idea what it’s like. You might think you’re being polite, but perhaps saying something else would be better. It’s best to just thank whomever views your profile and leave it at that.
Addressing The Relationship
A part of your letter that many forget to include is addressing the concerns of the potential birth parents. If you would rather have a closed adoption over an open adoption, write that in your letter. If you want to have a close relationship with your child’s birth parents, share that. Be honest about your expectations of the future of your relationship. It’s important to note that you should not make promises that you can’t keep. That can be one of the biggest let downs for a birth parent. You may wish to keep in mind under promising and over delivering, meaning if you think you’ll visit 10 times a year forever, you should probably say visits will happen five times a year. This isn’t misleading because you can always go over the five times, but those will be “bonus” visits. This prevents your child’s birth family from major disappointment.
“We” v. “I”
If you’re not a single parent adopting, you should not be using “I” in your letter. Instead, it’s better to stick to third person narrative (Jenny is… Bob likes…), and sticking to using “we.” This shows that you and your partner are committed to the adoption, rather than being one sided. And you should be writing this letter together. You and your spouse will both be parents to this child.
Talk About Each Family Member
If it’s just you and your spouse, some couples write about each other because who knows you better than your spouse? If you already have kids, include them in your letter too. This is where being specific comes into play. Don’t just say you love reading books–say you love reading those cheesy romance books because you can’t turn away a good love story. Don’t just say you love hiking–say you love the kind of hikes that require you to scale mountains and stay for days outdoors. Give specific examples of what you like; this goes for each family member. The more specific, the more “you” shows, and by now you know how important that is.
Do Share Your Values
This will likely come out as you write, but explicitness in this aspect can’t hurt. If you value a religious home, write about how that comes up in your home. If you hold honesty as the highest value in your home, talk about how you hope to or do teach that in your home. What kind of family are you? What values are important to you? Share them! An expectant birth parent is likely wanting to find a family that shares her values.
Do Share Your Background
Although you don’t need to go into crazy amounts of detail–like sharing your life story–you should talk about where you come from. What did you do as kid? How did you and your spouse meet? Where have you lived and what education do you have? These may all be part of your story to share with potential birth parents. Along with your background, you may wish to share what you would like your future to look like.
Though some couples choose to adopt because of infertility struggles, your letter may not be the best place to share these struggles–at least not in extensive detail. If this is part of your story, then by all means, share some of it. However, be wary of using your infertility struggles to “guilt” potential birth parents. Adoption isn’t something that’s meant to cure infertility, but is just one option to grow your family.
Why Do You Want To Adopt
Hopefully writing this section your letter won’t be the first time that you’ve answered this question. But sharing your reasoning will help a potential birth parent know why you want to be an adoptive parent. Being an adoptive parent is no easy thing, so why do you want to do it?
3. Using The Internet And Social Media
Did you know that you can use the internet to help you find a match? Since basically everyone in this day and age is using the internet and social media, your chances of finding the right match through the internet are looking really good. So what are the best ways to use the internet? For one, using social media.
We’ve already talked about creating an online profile and a blog to share all about your family, but using social media to share both your profile and your blog can help you get the traffic to find your perfect match.
Remember to proceed in an ethical manner. You should look into how your state allows you to make matches, what kind of advertising your allowed to do, and how you should proceed once you’ve made a match. You can check your state’s laws here.
Here are a few tips for bringing your adoption journey to social media.
- Make a Facebook page. This could also be a great alternative to starting a blog. Making a Facebook page is super easy, too. After you’ve completed the technical stuff for creating the page (name, title, cover photo, etc.), then you can get started on the fun stuff. You should do your best to be consistent and active on your Facebook page. This will allow you to share more about your family and demonstrate your commitment to your adoption journey. Invite friends and family to “like” and “share” your page to everyone. You should be using your page to share updates about your family, your values, and your feelings about adoption. Share photos, stories, and memes to fill your feed. Every piece that you share should ask people to “like” and “share” what you’ve posted. Having a call to action can help you get some free marketing and therefore find a match.
- Use Facebook or Instagram Live. This could be something really fun to do as a family. Sharing live moments in your family could bring a whole other dimension to your search for a match. Feeling a little camera shy? Don’t worry, you don’t have to have the camera directly on you. Share a live video of your kid’s soccer game or a trip to the museum, or just what you’re seeing as you walk. If you’re a little more comfortable in front of the camera, you can set up live chats for Q&A sessions. You could crowdsource questions about adoption or do a Q&A session with just you and your spouse to share more about each other. The important thing is to have fun with it. And don’t forget to save those videos so you can post them for people that may have missed them.
- Remember that your content for social media doesn’t have to be perfect. You can share the candid moments happening your life. Your page, video, or blog doesn’t have to have award-winning content, but the real, raw stuff about you. You don’t have to write novels, but just be yourself and share what’s important to you.
- Try your hand at creating memes. I’m not just talking about memes that have grumpy cat on them–memes are basically any visual representation you choose. Many memes have quotes on them and are actually quite easy to make. You can also check Pinterest or even Adoption.com’s Facebook page to find some popular memes to share or be inspired by. You could share memes with adoption-related quotes or pick your favorite quotes that you love to live by. Create memes from your own blog posts and ask your friends and family to share them. Just think if you could make a connection with a potential birth parent because you love the same quote.
4. The Old Fashioned Ways–They Still Work
Although the internet may hold dominance for marketing yourself to potential birth parents, you may want to consider doing a few of these old fashioned ways of marketing. Of course, check with your state’s laws on marketing so that you can keep your adoption ethical.
- Have an adoption-themed photoshoot. There are tons of adoption announcements that you can find on Pinterest. Share with the world that you’re adopting. Letting people know that you’re adopting is one of the best ways to get started on finding a match.
- Talk about your adoption. Your friends might get annoyed if your adoption is the only thing your talk about, but maybe you should get new friends if that’s the case (or sometimes talk about other things if you’re nicer). Sharing mini updates with your friends and family will keep your adoption in their minds and if something should arise where they might know of a woman making an adoption plan, they can throw your information into the mix.
- Make some pass-a-long cards. Take some of the photos from your adoption photoshoot and create some cards to hand out to friends and family. Along with a clear picture of your faces, you should include your online profile, your blog, social media pages, and the best way to contact you. You may be able to hang some cards in local businesses, if allowed.
Don’t be afraid of putting a little elbow grease into some of these less modern ideas. These have been known to work, so why not try all your available options to find a match?
5. Finding A Match Through Word Of Mouth
So what do you do when when you’re living in one of the states that does not allow hopeful adoptive parents to advertise? Well you still have a couple of options.
The best option is to rely on your agency to do your advertising for you. They should be knowledgeable in your state’s regulations. They’ll be able to gather the information, your profile and match you with potential birth parents. They’re the ones typically allowed to advertise for you, so long as they’re properly licensed.
But if you’re doing it alone or want to beef up your chances of matching, you can try a few different things. You can still create a Facebook page of your family’s hope to adopt, like mentioned above. You can also create some pass-a-long cards to hand out to your friends and family.
But the best option you have is word-of-mouth. That means talking, a lot, about how you hope to adopt and you’re looking for a match. You don’t have to be aggressive, but you never know if your coworker’s friend’s sister’s cousin is hoping to place your child with a family. Of course, when you’re going through word-of-mouth, you need to be careful about walking the fine line of not committing coercion, and being honest and genuine about your intentions. Then work with agency to continue the match in an ethical manner.
6. International Adoption Matches
As you hopefully know by this step in your adoption process, you must work with an accredited adoption agency to adopt internationally. A lot the advertising, marketing, etc. is not as important in an international adoption. This is because, for the most part, the agency is going to work with you to find the child that’s a right fit for your family.
The more traditional way, when international adoption was more common, was to have hopeful adoptive parents complete their dossier and send it to the department in charge of adoptions in the country of their choice. After that a couple would wait until their country’s government matched them with an available child.
More often, a sort of variation on this process happens. Sometimes the agency will have your Medical Conditions Checklist (MCC) and match you with a file that is on hand at the agency of a waiting child.
After a match has been made, the couple can review the child’s file and decide if they think the child will be a good fit.
Another way to match is for hopeful adoptive parents to pre-identify a specific child, then find the agency that has that child’s file or find an agency that will pull the child’s file off the shared list of waiting children. Then the hopeful adoptive parents will complete their dossier and submit it the country of their selected child.
It’s important to work closely with your agency to find out what you can do to help yourself get matched with the right child. Each country and agency will vary slightly on how they operate.
7. How To Talk To Potential Birth Parents
It’s very possible that you will talk to several potential birth parents before you actually match. But how do you talk to these expectant parents without making a fool of yourself? Keep reading to find out!
Don’t Be Overzealous
I get it, it’s so exciting when a potential birth parent reaches out to you. There’s finally a reality of the possibility. But now is not the time to bombard her with everything that you’ve been thinking of for the last few months.
Go At Her Pace
You may have a million things you’re dying to say, but try to follow her lead. Overwhelming her with your questions will not make this difficult decision any easier for her. If she’s only asking a few questions, you should only answer those questions and ask a few of your own. Don’t worry, there is time for all of your questions, but it’s not always wise to jump right in.
Respect Her Wishes
Until your potential birth parent(s) has signed the documents terminating her parental rights, this baby is not yours. She has the right to decide if you will be the parents of her child. And if she decides to parent, that is her right too. Support her in whatever choice she makes. Let her know that you’re not pressuring her into a decision and you’re there to support her no matter her decision.
The In-Person Meeting
At some point you will likely meet your potential birth parent(s). This does not guarantee you a baby. But it is a good chance to get to know each other a little better. Think of this pre-baby communication as the dating period for you and her. What do you need to talk about? What questions does she have? It will be a little nerve-wracking, but the in-person meeting can help each other really determine if this is a good match.
Be Her Friend
Do your best to be her support. Potential birth parents are often under incredible amounts of stress, so think of ways to help ease her journey. She will come to you with questions and worries; answer them honestly. You don’t need to pretend to be someone else to be a friend, so remember to be yourself.
Don’t Forget Boundaries
Although you should do your best to provide support, comfort, and help to your potential birth parent(s), there are some boundaries that need to be established. Discuss them ahead of time so to avoid awkwardness. Some possible boundaries maybe to have her work through your agency, verifying that she is pregnant and this isn’t a scam, keeping phone numbers private, not discussing birth parent expenses except through third parties, etc. These boundaries will depend on your comfort levels and hers.
8. Handling the Wait
Have you heard the expression, “Hurry up and wait?” It heavily applies to one’s adoption journey. You’re rushing to get all your paperwork and home study completed, only to be asked to sit tight and wait for a match. Of course, the above tips demonstrate that you don’t have to be doing nothing; there’s plenty of marketing to do to help you during your wait. But after that’s all said and done, what’s next?
Plan For You Child
It’s okay to start getting some preparation ready. Getting a few baby clothes here and there, picking out a crib, stocking up on diapers. You can read up on parenting and maybe pick out some names. Just don’t let this be the only thing you do while you wait–you’ll go crazy!
You’re about to have your life changed forever. Once the baby is home, you and your spouse won’t ever be alone again (or you’ll have an even bigger family). Now is the time to enjoy each other’s company and spend some quality time together. You might consider going on a trip (babymoon) to celebrate. You don’t have to spend your days sad about what you don’t have, but enjoy what you do have: each other.
Take Time To Work On You
This can be exploring new hobbies, educating yourself on adoption, improving a skill, or anything else that’s been on your list forever but you’ve just never gotten around to. This is meant to distract you from the wait, but also improve your life and happiness. Do things that are going to make you happy.
Find Your Community
While you wait and once you become a parent, you’re going to want to have others to talk to. Being an adoptive parent does come with it’s own set of challenges. Reaching out to others that have experienced the same thing as you will only help you on your journey. The adoption world really is a culture in and of itself, so why not reach out to others more knowledgeable and experienced then you? You may wish to check out these communities:
9. What You Need To Know About Adoption Scams
Unfortunately scams are part of the adoption world. While you read over this section, you may want to keep a mentality of trust but verify. This goes for potential birth parents and agencies. You are your greatest protection from scammers.
It is possible to be scammed by your agency. It’s a good idea to check reviews of agencies before working with them. Your agencies should have the required accreditations and should have been used by other hopeful adoptive parents. Remember, if things appear too good to be true, they probably are. This is especially true for international adoption. When countries are closed to US adoptions and an agency promises they can get a child from their, they may be participating in child trafficking.
Be wary of scams from potential birth parents. Many times this type of scammer is seeking emotional and/or financial support. They may have no intention of placing their child and in some cases, not even be pregnant. Baby bumps and sonograms can be forged so do not view them as proof of pregnancy. Have your adoption professional get medical records from your potential birth parent’s medical provider. You should not personally attack the potential birth mother.
Some red flags from potential birth parents could be any of the following.
- A potential birth parent will not work with your agency or lawyer.
- A potential birth parent that does not to appear have much of a social media presence.
- A potential birth parent that is constantly facing over dramatic events in her life.
- A potential birth parent refuses to meet face-to-face or frequently cancels face-to-face meetings.
Keep in mind that a birth parent’s rights are different from scams. It is within her rights to choose to parent, even after she has given birth. This doesn’t mean your relationship with her was a scam. Birth parents are also allowed to choose a different family. You can learn more about birth parent rights here.
In the event of a scam, cease all payments and cancel any checks that have yet to be cashed. Contact your local authorities. You should also contact your lawyer. If you have an online profile, contact the site administrator. Here. is an example of an adoption scam investigation.
If you have experienced an adoption scam, don’t let it discourage you from growing your family through adoption. There are good people out there. You can grow your family through adoption. You only must protect yourself and find the right potential birth parent.
10. What’s Next
You’ll know that you’ve made the right match when you’ve met the right potential birth parents. It’s cliche to say, but it’s true. Don’t let yourself be discouraged as you wait because the right family will come to you. Your journey through adoption will not be easy, but you feel incredible joy by the end of it. The hardships you face and the patience you must have will only help you appreciate the great blessing that’s about to enter your life.
Once you’ve made your match, it’s time to talk about the hospital visit, your future open adoption, your goals as a parent, and what you hope for in the future. Your adoption professional will be able to walk you through the last of the paperwork. Keep in mind the last remaining things once your child is born and in your arms.
You find the resources at the end of this article and throughout the article to be helpful and answer the other questions you have about making a match.
Lastly, good luck! You are about to change your life forever.