When we were starting the adoption process, I really enjoyed putting together our adoption profile book. I am the kind of person who finds decorating and arranging things relaxing. In fact, I often put myself to sleep at night by imagining what certain rooms would look like if I decorated them a certain way. Not only am I kind of a nerd when it comes to that kind of stuff, but I was very excited to tell expectant parents about our family! It helped that this project was very important, but it was not technical like all of the mountains of paperwork that go along with the adoption process.  Getting the opportunity to show expectant parents who we were, what we liked, as well as exposing them to a bit of how we might parent their baby, was just plain fun! I spent hours deciding on what pictures would perfectly portray our family, which background colors would make us stand out, and which graphics would be amazing!

Adoption profiles are your chance as a hopeful adoptive parent to make a memorable first impression. While this can be a very fun task, it can also be overwhelming, especially if you are not tech savvy. Here are a few tips that will help you create the perfect adoption profile book that will stand out.

1.) Choose an online service that makes photo books.

You should choose an online service that makes photo books. There are so many to choose from nowadays! I LOVED the quality, simplicity, and variety of Shutterfly,‎ so I used their service to create the adoption books for both of my adoptions. (They can be pricey, but there are usually codes available to help offset the cost.) Other hopeful families have had great success with services from Snapfish, Mixbook,‎ and even Walmart, to name a few. Whichever site you choose to use SHOULD have an easy-to-use format that you can follow. Many have auto-templates where you can “drag and drop” photos and type your words into their text boxes. They have a variety of frames and “stickers” to make each page unique and eye-catching. Easy peasy. Remember, when choosing a service, to consider what your agency’s requirements are and make sure that you are able to meet those. For example, some agencies request only digital copies, while others want several photo books that the social workers take with them. For our first adoption, the agency wanted five copies of hardcover 8-by-11-inch books, but, for our second adoption, they wanted seven copies of paperback 8-by-11-inch books. Know your agency’s requirements prior to creating your masterpiece.

2.) Choose photos that show your immediate family and close friends.

Looking through family pictures can be tons of fun, especially in this day and time where the majority of photos are digital or can be turned digital. Photos that are stored online or on a computer are easy to upload or transfer to the online service that you choose. You should consider photos that cover a variety of aspects of your life and family. Keep in mind that expectant parents may never get to actually meet you or your entire family, so pictures help them imagine their child in your family. Include pictures of LIVING immediate family members on both sides: mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, nieces, or nephews. Do not forget to include pictures of any other family members, close friends, godparents, and other special people with you and your kids. It is also a good idea to include pictures of your pets and you with your pets. Expectant parents love to envision the environment where their child might be raised. Include snapshots of your home, the nursery, and the backyard. When I created our first book, I made sure to showcase pictures of me with my mom, a fun picture of my dad, pictures of my brothers with their spouses and kids, group shots of my husband with his family, and, of course, our dog. Our second book had pages for our first adopted son, the play areas in and outside the house, and a few pictures of him with our dog to show that she was good with kids.

3.) Select photos that tell about you and your spouse and your interests and hobbies.

Pictures of you and your spouse as a couple and as individuals are probably the most key elements! Let your love for your spouse shine through. If you have already had kids, make sure there are pictures of you as a family. Expectant parents want to imagine their child with their new family. Show yourselves in a variety of settings and doing things you love! Doing this will help the expectant parents envision what it might be like for their child. Select pictures that show your hobbies, interests, vacations, home, and pets. If you are a humorous person, then share photos of you being silly. Your goal should be to show the expectant parents a few examples of things that you have done and that their child MIGHT have the opportunity to experience in your family. When I created our books, I made sure to include pictures of our wedding/engagement, beach vacations, mountain trips, waterfall explorations, anniversary cruise, amusement park trips, as well as other things that we had done.

4.) Semantics and presentation matter.

As with everything in life, words truly matter. You do not want to come across as condescending or uppity, nor do you do not want to seem like a braggart. It is very important to think carefully about the way you “speak” to expectant parents, how you refer to their child, and how you talk about you and your spouse. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create your adoption profile book:

– Remember that until that child is placed, the child still belongs to the expectant mother/parents. It is THEIR child until they decide.

– Write a short note telling her why you are interested in adopting. People adopt for a variety of reasons, let her know why you are so eager to adopt her baby.

– Tell her what you admire most about your spouse and how you fell in love.

– Promise her that you will always speak positively of her.

Presentation is also very important. You do not want to throw things together so it seems haphazard and without thought. Attention to details is very important. You should avoid pictures that reveal too much skin and pictures that are grainy, blurry, or have “red eye.” Do not be afraid to tinker with your layout, words, and colors to create an adoption profile that is as unique as you are.

When I created our adoption profile book, I elected to have short descriptions and sentences for the majority of the book. However, I made exceptions on four or five pages. One of those pages was a carefully crafted letter to the expectant mother/parents. It was designed to briefly tell our story, show our desires, convey our admiration, and offer assurances of grace. This letter was about a half-page long and utilized simple easy-to-read font. I also altered the background image and frames so that it looked as if it were written on a piece of lined paper. The four other pages that we allowed to have a little more length were the ones where we talked about ourselves. We went with “About Virginia” and “About Eric” as the titles. The page on the left included my husband’s thoughts about me along with a couple of pictures. The opposite-facing page, I listed a variety of fun facts about me like my education, hobbies, job, and dreams. I flipped it and did the same thing with my husband’s information. It was fun, informative, and concise, and it gave the perfect snapshot of us as individuals. Expectant parents would have no problem identifying our uniqueness as individuals and our love for each other, plus it was an opportunity for them to get a glimpse of our personalities.

5.) Keep it simple.

It is so easy to go overboard when making an adoption profile photo book. After all, you want to tell the expectant parents why YOUR family should be their choice, and you want to show them everything about your life. However, it is important to remember that expectant parents often look at dozens of books before they find THE adoption profile to which they are drawn. Eventually, all the names and faces and words will look the same and their eyes will glaze over as they are overwhelmed by the flood of information. Simple is better. Simplicity is attractive. In this case, less is more, creating an attractive, inviting palate.

Using photo frames and text box accents can greatly elevate certain photos and words. The computer program you choose should have access to these features. Like a word fitly spoken in due season is like an apple of gold in a picture of silver, a well-placed graphic is a thing of beauty, creating interest and accent to a page.

6.) A few other tips to keep in mind for adoption profile books.

There is no way to guarantee that your adoption profile book will be chosen quickly. All you can do is your very best to showcase your family in the manner that most reflects who you are, believing that God has known since before time began which child would join your family. Profilesthatgetpicked.com suggests that you should accurately represent yourself and endeavor to show the truth about your life without exaggerating. The article also recommends that you come across as having a balanced life. One that is “full enough that you are not dependent on a baby to make it complete, yet not so full that you have no room for a child. … [You should also] remove all hints of desperation. It’s as much a repellent to an expectant mother as it was to a potential spouse. If you can’t come by this honestly, you need more counseling before you embark on adoption.”

You should also avoid personal information in your adoption profile books. Things like last names, house numbers, work name badges, and other identifying information should be omitted. If they are visible on your pictures, use a photo editor to blur that portion of the photo. It is also a good idea to include any personal and family connections to adoption. It helps to assure an adoptive parent that their child will be accepted and loved in your family when they see that adoption is accepted in your circle of family and friends.

Conclusion:

Photo books are great ways to showcase your family. There is no way to know what will draw a certain expectant parent to choose your family. That is why it is important to choose simple, colorful designs and a variety of pictures. For our first adoption, our son’s birth mother told our social worker that she chose us because I looked “fun.” I am typically a fun-loving, bubbly person, so I had selected photos that allowed my personality to shine through. She had seen the pictures of me dressed up for theme days at my job, pictures of me with our giant yellow Labrador retriever, and pictures of me goofing off with other people. Those pictures drew her to our family, and Joshua fits in PERFECTLY with our goofiness. Our second son’s birth mother wanted a family who lived on the ocean because the birth father loved to surf. The social worker told them that she did not know where everyone in the profile stack lived, but she could narrow the stack down to those who were from their Virginia Beach office, which is near the ocean. Our adoption profile book showed our adoration of the beach and was very attractive to her. I am thrilled she chose us to raise Caleb. He is the perfect balance for our little family.

Not everyone gets to learn why a particular expectant mother chose their family. Maybe it was their pets, their love of literature, the vacations they took, their higher education, or even their vocation. There is no way to predict this. However, I believe that every child has a family that before time began, God, in his sovereignty, ordained for them to join. God can use whatever element or situation he chooses to fulfill his plan to build a family and place a child.

 

Virginia Spence and her husband Eric are parents to two awesome little boys who joined their family via domestic infant adoption. When she is not playing referee or engaged in tickle wars, Virginia can be found cleaning, reading, or drinking giant mugs of coffee. Virginia is passionate about advocating for life at all ages/stages and educating about adoption.