It seems like the clock starts ticking the moment you decide adoption is your chosen path. Even as you complete your initial paperwork, days may already begin to feel longer as your wait to grow your family through domestic adoption begins. With adoption, your life and family can change in an instant. My husband and I started receiving calls and connections almost immediately after submitting our adoption profile. This was no accident. I believe a large reason for our success resulted from the simple fact that I was willing to do anything and everything I could to be proactive in the profile-building process.
An adoption profile, whether in print or online, is the most important tool you will have in your adoption journey. Even without a million-dollar bank account or endless resources, your adoption profile can play a lead role for you, helping you receive the call or email that just might help your family grow exactly as you’ve been hoping for. Whether you’ve recently finished your paperwork, just made it through the home study visits (you know, the ones you cleaned like mad for), or already have a completed profile, there are ALWAYS ways you can improve or enhance it. In my work creating profiles for prospective adoptive parents, I have seen families chosen within mere days of completing their profile! So it is definitely worth it to put all you can into building an effective profile. Here are some quick and easy tips I’ve learned that will make a big difference as you create or edit your profile.
Don’t let yourself get carried away with text.
Many people feel the need to cram everything about themselves, their Aunt Mabel, and goldfish “Bubbles” into their profile. This is simply too much information for a reader to take in. I know you are excited (I was too!) and want to be sure you are covering all of your bases. But you may lose your reader altogether if your text is too long. For better or worse we live in a time of Facebook and Twitter, where quick snippets of information or photos with just a few lines of text are the norm. Your profile should not be War And Peace. It should read more like a magazine. Think ‘bite-sized chunks’ of information.
Off-centered selfies and other sins.
Pictures really can be worth a thousand words. But they aren’t always. A profile full of off-centered selfies (with only half your face or less) or pictures of buildings from your latest trip will not tell your story. Make your picture choices meaningful ones that tell the viewer something about you. Take advantage of the space and add a caption with your photos. But don’t be “blah”. Share what that particular part of your life will mean for the child you are chosen to love and raise. For example, if your family makes a yearly beach trip don’t settle for a caption like, “Our annual trip to the beach.” Paint a picture of the life you are offering. For example, “We can’t wait to help a little one build sandcastles and collect shells on our annual family beach vacation.”
Nice to meet you? Proper Introductions.
You know the feeling you get at a social or work event when you call someone by the wrong name? Multiply that by one hundred and you might be approaching the way it feels when you address an interested expectant parent in a way that bothers or offends her. So please, whatever you do, don’t begin your intro letter with the salutation, “Dear Birthmother”. While this was once acceptable and even encouraged, it is no longer considered appropriate. Nor is it even accurate. A woman does not become a birthmother until she has actually placed her child with a family through adoption. A women who is reading your profile may be an expectant mother considering an adoption plan. But she still should not be addressed as a ‘birthmother’ in your profile. A better approach is to simply introduce yourself and family. Adoption-appropriate language throughout your profile is very important and will not prevent you from telling your story.
Don’t like it? Change it.
You have an amazing opportunity with an online profile. You can add, change, or update it at any time with the click of a mouse! Gathering with family for the holidays? Be ready to take those warm, fuzzy family pictures. Think your letter is too long? Edit it. Hate your hair in your lead profile photo? Take a new one. Want to share your latest feelings, hopes, and opportunities? Blog about it. Updating your profile will not only give you the chance to continue to be proactive in your adoption process, it may also increase your chances at connecting. And who doesn’t want that? Take the time to update your profile. It is definitely worth it.
You are not a cookie! So don’t act like one.
If I read through a hundred adoption profiles, I’d bet half or more would sound nearly identical. If you take away only one piece of advice from me, please remember this: be yourself and be honest! Do you want to cover your bases of love, respect, and stability? Of course you do! But now what? Let the reader get to know you. In all likelihood that is how the reader will connect with you - by learning what makes you and your family different! Being yourself and stepping out of the cookie-cutter mold is your first step toward standing out and creating an honest relationship with the expectant parents reading your profile.
I wish you all the best on your journey. And remember, whatever you do, do not look at your profile as something you have to do. Look at it as something you want to do, knowing that it can lead you right to your life changing moment.