I am pretty sure you have heard the saying, “Eyes are the windows to the soul.” I have one of those faces that gives away my every emotion, whether good or bad. People can take one look at me and know pretty much what I am thinking and where they stand with me. Sometimes this type of transparency is frustrating. However, when it comes to presenting yourself to expectant mothers, you want to be as transparent as possible. Your goal is to portray yourself and your family in a favorable light while demonstrating why you would be the best choice to raise her child. That is the function of adoption profile books. When she looks at your profile, you want her to see your heart, your interests, and your love. You want her to see the real you. Here are a few suggestions of things that you need to put in your adoption profile to help you make that happen.
Layout and Theme
In sales and marketing, the quality of the presentation matters. When you are looking for a job, the quality of your appearance matters. When you meet the inlaws for the first time, you want to put your best foot forward. Making an adoption profile book is no different. You want to present yourself in the best light possible. Layout, theme, and color choice are important because they are the first things that catch the eye and make her want to look further. If you are an outdoorsy, sporty couple, choose a layout and colors that reflect nature and sports. If you are artistic, choose something that screams, “Artist!” You do not need to spend too much time on this nowadays because there are literally dozens of websites and companies that have premade designs from which you can choose. Places like Shutterfly, Snapfish, or Walmart have easy-to-access and easy-to-use sites where you can drop your photos into the template, add a few words, and voilà, MAGIC! So, take some time to consider a layout and theme that reflects you and your family. It does not take a whole lot more effort to make your profile unique, but it may make a difference in the outcome.
It may seem trite to say that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it is absolutely true, especially in adoption profiles. Oftentimes when the expectant mother is looking for a family for her child, she is overwhelmed by the choices in front of her. She is seeking that ONE thing that may attract her to a certain family. That is why it is important to choose pictures that show your interests, hobbies, and lifestyle. They want to see REAL life, not just perfect photos. It can be tempting to show your family in the way you THINK a birth mother might find attractive. Photos wearing your everyday clothes instead of just formal, overdressed clothing. One birth mother suggested that you should “include pictures of yourselves doing what you love, whether that’s hiking, fishing, camping, vacations, etc. Including these types of pictures allows a birth mom to paint a picture of what her child’s life will look like. She is able to see them playing in that back yard or sitting around a campfire. I know it made me feel like I really knew that couple. Feeling like I knew what my daughter’s life would look like made me feel secure. … Include pictures of how you interact with family and friends. The couple I chose after many hours of looking through profiles really showed me their best relationships. They had pictures of friends coming over to bake cookies, pictures of their dogs, Christmas day with their whole family, and playing with their nieces and nephews. If you have other kids, show them together. If you have other kids through adoption, include pictures of them with their birth families if you can. Like any birth mom, I wanted my daughter to be surrounded by love and joy. Seeing those types of pictures showed me exactly how much love she’d be surrounded by. And, it also made me feel like I really was getting to know the couple before ever talking to them.”
One birth grandmother was very instrumental in choosing an adoptive family. She recalled that as she looked at adoption profiles that the photos were what compelled her to read the text. She stated that “the photo on the front was of prime importance. After I narrowed down the profiles, I went through them and looked at all the pictures and captions to see what kind of life the people had. What were they showing me that they felt was important?” Our son’s birth mother chose us because we looked fun. I think our family is pretty outgoing, so I showed pictures of us hiking, camping, swimming, going to the beach, visiting amusement parks, loving on our dog, and being crazy at our jobs. Our other son’s birth mother loves the beach. She told our social worker that she chose us because of our proximity to the ocean. In either case, it was just our family being us and enjoying each other. Whatever you choose to put in your profile, remember that you are unique. Do not be afraid to be yourself. You never know what will draw an expectant mother to you.
Talk about your marriage.
Stability is one thing that everyone dreams to achieve. Many times, an expectant mother who is considering adoption is not in a position that she feels is stable enough to raise her child. She wants so much more for her child. One expectant mother wrote, “One of the MOST important things for me was finding a couple that was stable. I, along with most birth moms, found myself in a position where I was not stable enough to raise a child. What I wanted to see was a couple who was, above all, committed to each other. It gave me a sense of security feeling like my daughter would always have her parents together. Wanting her to have two parents is one of the reasons I considered adoption to begin with.”
When we adopted, it was important to my husband and me that we show how much we love each other. We each took the time to write about the other. Here’s what I wrote about Eric just to give you an idea: “Eric is an amazing person. He is the most patient and caring man that I have ever met. I love that he is gentle and understanding. He is steady and focused when I feel scattered. He is a hard worker but balances work and fun. Eric is committed to his family. He makes it a priority to put God first, family second, and work last. It shows how important we are to him. I love that he loves me just as I am, with all my flaws, and never tries to change me. I love how he always encourages me to be the best I can be and prays for me daily. I also appreciate that he truly listens to me when I talk and values my opinions. I also love to watch Eric with Joshua. He is a great daddy. I love the way his face lights up when he walks in the door after work and sees his family…and lights up when we walk into his office at work…or basically anywhere.” We also shared a very brief version of our dating and marriage. We wanted to convey to all who looked at our books that we were truly committed to each other.
Be careful with promises.
When we were writing the adoption profiles for our two adoptions, we were careful to only promise what we were comfortable to give. We stated that we were open to any form of adoption and would happily discuss the expectant mother’s preferences. We also made her a few promises that we knew we could keep. Here is what we said: “We believe that ‘children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him’ (Psalm 127:3). We promise to raise our children with unconditional love and to teach them to love the Lord with all of their hearts. We promise that we will not hide the fact that they are adopted, and that we will speak positively about their birth families.” We knew we could keep our word on those things. We knew we could not promise exact visits and contact, so we chose to focus on how we refer to our children’s birth mothers and to recount their stories with joy. We did not want to set ourselves up for future failure should we move or either situations change. Keep it simple and do not overpromise.
Write a letter to the birth mom.
Writing a letter to someone whom you have never met can be incredibly awkward, especially when the letter is to convey some of the deepest and heartfelt thoughts. It is tempting to only write what you think they will want to read or what will draw them in, but it is important to be honest. Let your sincerity come through without sounding demeaning or condescending. In an article on Adoption.com, one birth mother recalled how “it expressed how much they already loved me. It also included their hopes and dreams of the relationship they would like to have with me. To be honest, that letter made all the difference. When it came down to it, being able to read their heart for me made me feel so connected to them. It also gave me a good idea of what I could expect from the adoption. … The MOST important thing out of everything you can do is to be completely honest about who you are, what you stand for, and your expectations for adoption. It can be tempting to put the ‘right’ things or the most popular answers in your profile book. There can also be a temptation to leave things out like your religious beliefs. But know this: whether it’s the day the birth mom picks you, or 3 years post-placement, everything will eventually be out in the open.”
In this letter, tell the expectant mother why you want to adopt, what led you to where you are today, and how excited you are to be on this journey to growing your family. Do not forget to talk about your experience with children, and even include some photos of you with them. Paint a picture of your home, the baby’s room, your yard, and your neighborhood. Include some pictures if you can. Having the ability to “see” these things will help an expectant parent visualize her child in your setting.
Include a few lines about your values and beliefs. America Adopts says that writing about “this one is tricky. If you’re not careful, this section can come off as preachy and be a huge turn off for prospective birthparents. Values mean different things to different people. At the end of the day, what it really comes down to is what’s important for you? What do you believe in? What are you concerned about? What do you hope to pass on to your child? One of the best ways to get at the subject is to simply talk about what you like to do and let your readers draw their own … conclusions. … For instance, if family is important to you, show family get-togethers. Talk about how you celebrate Thanksgiving or birthdays or about the special traditions your parents have handed down and how you plan to continue them. If the arts are important to you, talk about why they’re important and how you plan to … [enroll] your child into music or dance lessons. If education is important, talk about your hopes and dreams to send your child to college or how you will encourage your children to pursue their own learning path based on their own interests and ability. If religion is important, talk about how it guides your life and how you plan to raise your child with those values.”
Keep it brief and positive. Remember that expectant mothers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and you never know what part of you will perk her interest.
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.