How do you begin? What do you say? How can you possibly convey all that is in your heart as you think about adopting? This letter you are about to write will be read by one of the most important people that will come into your life- a birthparent who may someday choose to place her baby with your family.
The enormity and importance of this letter sends you into serious writers block, and you doubt every instinct and emotion as you begin to put your thoughts on paper.
Sound familiar? Congratulations, you have joined the thousands of hopeful adoptive parents that have faced the same struggle.
Writing your Adoptive Family Profile is without a doubt one the most difficult things you will ever write, and unquestionable one of the most important.
A well written and produced profile is the most important networking tool you will have, and will make or break the success of your adoption journey.
Your first step to writing a great adoption profile? Take a deep breath, and a step back.
Your first step isn't writing, but thinking.
You need to consider what is truly important to you, and what makes your family unique.
Keep in mind that although many PBPs (potential birth parents) will read your letter your goal shouldn't be to appeal to each and every one of them, but to make your letter stand out to the RIGHT birthparents for your family.
Just like you, they are unique in their hopes and desiresas they search for a family, and just like you they have unique interests and concerns.
When that special birthparent reads your letter you want her or him to envision their child growing up with you, and no one else but you.
If you are working with an agency, facilitator or attorney they will give you a set of recommendations for your profile.
They all will differ in the length they like to see, what they want included and what not to include.
Remember, every client will start out with the same basic guidelines,, it is your job to make sure your profile doesn't look like the rest.
You will hear well-meaning advice that will encourage you to follow a 'formula' for success- but don't be tempted to water down your quirkiness, or to avoid taboo subjects.
If you are a quirky, fun, Harley riding, outspoken and opinionated couple then there is a birthparent out there looking for someone just like you! The technical aspects of writing your letter are not unlike what you learned in college composition courses- research, outline, write, and edit.
Often your "research" is one of the most difficult parts of writing your letter.
Your research begins by grabbing your partner and thinking about the things that really make you unique, and the four or five main points you want to convey in the letter.
A PBP will read 3-10 letters in a sitting, and as you can imagine they all start to run together.
Most everyone lives in a great home in a nice community with good schools supported by a loving family in a loving marriage and is grateful for the chance to share it all with a child.
You too? There is more to you than that, and your job is to tease it out.
Think hard about four or five points you want to cover in your letter.
What are the core values and interests you share? Some thoughts are spirituality, education, family, athletics, travel, work ethic ora strange sense of humor.
Weave these core beliefs throughout your letter, and make them the foundation for your text.
By beginning your letter with an outline and a general idea of the key points you want to convey you can create a concise, memorable letter that shares the true essence of your family.
You can expect to write 3-6 pages of text and be prepared to use 15-30 photographs in your finished profile.
There is a fine balance between providing narrative on your life and interests and just rambling on and on, and you should be equally judicious in your choice of photos.
When writing your text remember that you are 'speaking' to a real person- and a real person that is in the midst of one of the most difficult times in his/her life.
There is always much discussion about the "do's and don'ts"of writing styles, so let me address a few of those here:
DON'T write "down" to a birthmother assuming she may not have the education you do.Your last job, and one of the most important parts of writing your letter is to edit.
Just write as if you were speaking to a friend.
You wouldn't use jargon with your best friend, so keep the Thesaurus on the shelf and just write naturally.
DON'T make assumptions about what a birthparent is looking for in an adoptive family, or pretend to be someone you aren't.
Not rich or famous? That is just fine with most birth families.
PBPs are as unique as you are, and a connection based on honesty and mutual desires will be a deep and lasting one.
DON'T hide religious convictions (or lack thereof), step-children, or anything else.
How will she feel when she finally does learn of your omission? DON'T list your family and cousins by name and age- I can tell you that she really doesn't care.
You do, but she doesn't.
Save that information for an album you can give her later on.
DON'T be afraid to share a few faults.
One of my favorite profiles said: "We know we should vacuum more often, and perhaps we order pizza more than we should, but we love to be outside with the kids and sometimes the chores just have to wait".
Don't you want to get to know that couple? I do, and so did the birthfamily that chose them.
DON'T be afraid to call in the professionals.
If you are just plain stuck or want personal attention in the process there are many services available to assist you.
Find someone who shares your beliefs about adoption, and who isn't trying to fit you into a mold to make their job easier.
DO tell stories as you write, don't just run down a list of accomplishments.
Especially when accompanied by photos these little vignettes are often the stars of the show.
Capturing a scene or special moment creates a memory for the potential birthparent as well, and those are the most often remembered parts of any profile.
Don't tell her you live in a great neighborhood; tell her about summer evenings when everyone sits out on their porches and the kids race bikes up and down the street.
Don't tell her that Christmas is your favorite holiday, tell her about the time the tree fell over on the dog and he dragged it around the house until every ornament was broken.
DO be specific if you have desires about an open relationship, gender, or anything else you feel strongly about.
You will hear much advice to the contrary, but I believe that if she wants an open relationship- and you don't- then cut to the chase and you can both move on to find a good match with someone else.
Your mom was right, you can't be everything to everybody, so just be true to yourself, and most importantly, honest with her.
DO put your soul on paper.
Your profile will speak for you to birthparents and others important in your adoption journey.
Write with honesty and with purity, and your feelings will jump off the page.
DO make sure both partners share in the writing of the profile.
Just like parenting, the adoption journey is best when shared.
As you re-read you letter think about how a birthparent would feel as she or he is reading it.
Will they feel you are condescending and formal or fun and upbeat? I've read many letters from loving, well meaning adoptive parents that say such things as "we believe every child deserves a loving home, and we can give that to your child" (as if the birthparents can't? Love is the one thing they have in abundance.
) or "after years of fertility treatments that haven't worked we felt called to adoption" (as in, adoption wasn't our first, second, or third choice.
It is dead last, but please overlook that.
Be sensitive to your audience.
Now that you have a really great letter you will need to select photos, and put it all together in a readable, engaging format.
A last word of advice? Enjoy the process of writing your letter.
It is seldom in our busy lives we have the opportunity to slow down and think about what makes our family special, and to take the time to put it on paper.
This profile you are creating will be a special keepsake for your family, and for your child's birthfamily for years to come.