In 2002, I began to chronicle my adoption journey and created Forever Parents, a supportive online community for adoptive and waiting parents. Over the next year, we grew our support forums to include an adoption shop and a blog. Forever Parents stayed active, helping thousands of people for over ten years. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog, in the Forever Parents section. This post was originally published on January 17, 2008, and written by Lori Dowd for Forever Parents.
So what makes an adoption profile work? I gathered anecdotal research from birthparents and adoption counselors. While each birthparent comes with a viewpoint as unique as a fingerprint, here are some commonalities I found in what attracts and what doesn’t in adoption profiles.
1. Inject humor. Include an amusing anecdote or funny photo that shows that humor is one way you deal with life.
“They had a picture of the whole family wearing 3-D glasses and watching fireworks, “recounts birthmother Kelly. “This family had a good time just being around each other.”
2. Show something unique. Have a horse? Show it. Bilingual? Write a few words in another language. You want to differentiate yourselves from the others in the stack.
“The mother I chose proposed to her husband at an NFL football game on the big scoreboard,” says birthmother Jessica. “I liked her spirit!”
3. Find balance. Describe your life as 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.
Gwen reveals, “Both people had high-powered jobs and were involved in so many things that I just couldn’t see how they’d fit in another responsibility.”
4. Remove all hints of desperation. It’s as much a repellent to a potential birth 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.
“I didn’t want my baby to be the one thing that saved these people from a life of misery,” explains Sarah, so I passed on them.”
5. Choose an agency based on your expectations for future contact. For example, if you state you want very little or no contact, you may be in for a long wait if your agency is known for open adoptions.
“We went to an open adoption agency because we wanted SOME contact,” say birthparents Heather and Jason. “so we rejected a couple who wanted us to disappear after the birth.”
6. Accurately represent yourselves and avoid playing to your audience. One expectant mother might love dogs while another might be allergic. One might want the baby to be the couple’s first, while another might want siblings.
To bring about the best match simply be truthful about who you are and what your lives are about.
7. Tinker. Advertisers know that tweaking just a word or an image can dramatically change results. If you’ve been waiting a while, make a minor change, like the stationery or the lead photo.
“If your agency is having activity but your profile isn’t garnering interest, a semi-annual review with minor changes might help,” suggests Karen Bettis, Adoption Counselor at Lutheran Family Services.
8. Be just a bit quirky. For example, if you show a photo of your home, point to a bedroom window and add the caption “Baby’s room!” Birth parents look for reasons to come back to your profile.
Our daughter’s birth mother, Crystal, laughs about this today: “I liked looking at your home. And I liked knowing you already had a room picked out. That caption made an impression.”
9. Be brutally honest with yourselves about your profile. Or better yet, have a trusted friend – someone less vested in the outcome – look over your masterpiece. Ask this person to be candid about the photos, letters, and tone. Maybe you can’t see that Aunt Tillie looks awful in that family photo, but you need to know.
“In one picture of a family picnic, they all had red-eye,” explains birthmother Gwen. “I know it wasn’t real, but my impression was ‘how demonic!’”
10. Get exposure. Become an ambassador for your agency. Keep pregnancy counseling brochures in your car so you can post them at libraries and community centers (with permission). Your own doctor can be a resource to her patients who are pregnant but can’t parent – if she has brochures.
And to stretch your geographic boundaries, post your profile online. An internet search on “adoption profiles” turns up a host of sites that match birth parents and adoptive families.
Copyright Lori Dowd, June 2005