We call them family profiles—other terms you might hear are parent profiles, adoption profiles, adoption portfolios, and dear birthmother letters. They are one of the most important pieces of “paperwork” you will complete throughout your adoption process. Here are some tips on creating the perfect profile—and by “perfect” we mean “perfect for your family”.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessary to use a professional to create the perfect profile. If every family used a professional service, they would all look the same! We encourage adoptive families to create the profiles themselves.
Highlight the unique things about your family. If you’re funny, make your profile a little humorous. If your family loves to picnic in the park, you’re strong in your faith, are the biggest fans of a local football team, or even if you have a tradition of hosting a chili cook off every year—throw it in there!
A Few “Do Not’s”
Let us start by suggesting that you do NOT begin your profile with the words “Dear Birthmother”. Instead, use a general greeting and introduction. The term “birthmother” can be extremely offensive to pregnant women both before they have placed their child with a family, and after. It may be best to just leave out the word all together.
The women (and men) reading your profiles want to know what you can offer to their child. While your infertility journey is a major factor in your choosing adoption, it should not be the focus of your profile. It’s not appropriate to write a full page about your struggle with infertility, your IVF treatments or your miscarriages.
Put yourself in the shoes of the woman reading your profile. Her main objective is to find a family she can picture with her child. She wants a glimpse of his or her life, should she choose you.
Any one specific or unique thing might attract the reader to a certain family. It’s not always about the size of your home, the car you drive, etc. And while for some it may be about those things, for others it can be about one unique detail. For example, not too long ago, one woman longed to find an adoptive couple that had police officers in the family. She had a long history of cops in her own family; her dad, brother, and grandfather were all police officers. It was her dream that her son would be raised in a similar home.
Keep in mind if you are adopting transracially that you may want to mention your intention of teaching your child about his or her race, and how you will incorporate any cultural differences into your life as a family—truthfully. Try to maintain the perspective of a woman choosing adoption throughout the creation of your profile.
We know you know… “Pictures are worth a thousand words”. But let us reiterate for a minute. Finding the right photos for your profile should take just as much time as compiling the perfect words. If your profile has no pictures or they don’t catch the reader’s eye, chances are she won’t read the paragraph beside it. Share photos that best capture your life and what life for your child will be like—let the person looking at your profile get to know your through photos.
Use bold titles and captions for each of your photos. If there are other people in a photo, then mention them. There’s no need to go into detail about everyone and you can even omit their names if you so choose, but you should describe the role those people play in your life and the role that they will eventually play in your child’s.
If you have children already, be sure to share photos—ages, and hobbies of each family member. The woman looking at your profile will want to know whether or not her baby will have siblings and how the children will interact together.
For heaven’s sake, make sure your pictures are clear and not distorted. Crop your photos just right so that you can see faces clearly. Try to limit scenic pictures or large group shots unless there is a really great story behind them.
Again, put your own personality into this. Maybe your family is the “Times New Roman” type, a “Monotype corsivsa” or a “comic sans”— just makes sure the type is easy to read.
It’s hard to say how much wording is too much or not enough. Our best advice is to use a combination of paragraphs and bullets. You don’t want your paragraphs to be so long that the reader doesn’t want to finish, but sometimes bullets can be cold. Instead find a balance— write brief paragraphs and use bullets when you can. For example, it’s okay to simply list hobbies, favorite vacation spots, fun facts etc:
- Running at the park
- Action movies
- Snowboarding with friends
As a Family We Enjoy:
- Trips to the art museum
- Baseball games
Finally, proofread. Share your profile with friends or family. Ask them to check spelling and grammar of course, but more importantly they should note anything that might sound unclear or misleading.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
The goal a family profile is to connect a woman choosing adoption to one family that is her perfect match. Not a bunch of families which are close enough. Be honest. Don’t worry about leaving something out of your profile because it might turn-off some people. And likewise do not embellish things like hobbies, trips, etc. which don’t really exist.
The truth is, you never know which aspect of your life a woman will value more than another in choosing a family for her child. But be confident in knowing that the woman who chooses you, is choosing the real YOU. Your true personality should emanate off the pages, each individual family member should be highlighted as well as the family as a whole. The final selections will come down to what speaks loudest to the woman looking at your profile—it’s different for each person. The most important thing for you is that your profile is truthful and honest.