Category Archives: adoptive parents

Prospective Adoptive Couple Opening Themselves Up to Being “Catfished”

There was recently a news article out of North Dakota featuring an adoptive couple who fell victim to an adoption scam. The family decided to pursue an identified adoption which means they themselves are responsible for finding an expecting mother who is considering adoption. Families often do this by way of social media. The problem is that this route to adoption also opens up emotionally vulnerable prospective adoptive parents to scammers. This couple in particular were contacted by a pregnant woman reaching out about placing her child only to find that the ultrasound photos she had sent to confirming pregnancy was pulled from a Google search. Unfortunately, it’s not a new story. This particular couple discovered the scam before they offered financial assistance and lost money in the process.

Prospective adoptive parents may steer towards an independent adoption first and foremost based on the lower costs associated with the process. Unfortunately, the cost gap isn’t the only difference and a higher risk of being scammed isn’t the only pitfall. Even those couples who choose to work with a facilitator should do their due diligence and know some of the downfalls of working solely with a facilitator as outlined here.

The National Council For Adoption insists that both expectant parents considering an adoption plan and prospective parents hoping to adopt to work only with licensed nonprofit adoption agencies and attorneys.

From Our Experience (those using facilitators):

It is disheartening when couples contact AFTH in a state of emergency looking for an agency to complete their adoption already in process because after receiving a match through a facilitator they have now learned the expecting mother’s state makes it illegal to use facilitators. 15 different states have such laws. Unfortunately, the adoptive family is now in a position of needing to hire an adoption agency on top of the fees they have already paid the facilitator making the process more expensive instead of less than working with an agency from beginning to end. Not to mention, if the adoption falls through, facilitators and matching services often do not extend credit towards another match. Typically their fees are deemed earned when the match occurs no matter the outcome.

Pitfalls for Expecting Parents too:

The prospective adoptive parents are not the only ones who are at risk of getting a raw deal when choosing to work without an agency. More often than not, expecting parents do not receive any sort of professional counseling. This is one of the most important decisions of someone’s life yet they don’t have the opportunity to have a counselor who is there is advocate for their needs to walk them through every step of the process. Not having counseling is a huge downside for expecting parents and also puts the prospective adoptive parents at a higher risk of a disappointment or disruption as well.

Mismatching:

Recently, AFTH has been contacted by several families to assist them with situations they have been matched for and need an agency to continue with the process. On more than one occasion, when working with both the prospective adoptive parents and excepting parents our social workers have discovered that they are not as close as a match as they had been lead to believe. Differences in desired openness or drug/alcohol usage, mental health backgrounds etc. created gaps between expectations and realities. One party is then put in the awkward position of having to decide to walk away or continue even though it’s not good match.

Anytime prospective adoptive parents seek to connect directly with expecting parents without the help of an agency, they can sometimes give into the temptation of the carrot dangling before them without fully vetting the situation. Meaning they can be contacted by someone who isn’t a strong match for what they were open to but because there is the light at the end of the tunnel of waiting they might be tempted to quickly say yes even if it is outside of their comfort zone. When working with an agency, they act as the intermediary to make sure matches are a good fit for everyone involved.

State Regulations:

There is a reason that adoption agencies undergo licensing and are required to adhere to strict state adoption regulations. Organizations that solely serve as a matching vessel are able to skirt around those requirements while unfortunately putting both the expecting and prospective adoptive parents at risk.

Finding What’s Best for Your Family:

Each family needs to find what best fits their own needs. If you are considering a matching service, facilitator or going it completely on your own and foregoing an adoption agency or attorney, please be sure to do your research so you are aware of the potential risks you may be exposed to. The adoption process is complicated and riddled with many unknowns. An adoption agency is there to advocate for and protect all parties involved in the adoption. Don’t be caught off-guard by being underinformed about the entire process from start to finish.

If you would like to contact one of our adoption social workers to talk more about your situation, call 800.355.5500

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How to Spot An Adoption Scam

When we think of adoption, we think of someone choosing to grow their family. We think of the expectant mother who wants to give her child a better life. We think of a child receiving love from all angles. Rarely, do we consider a person taking advantage of someone’s need or want to adopt. It is sad to say, but adoption scams happen all the time! Scary, right?! But don’t worry, we are going to give you helpful tips on how to spot warning signs and red flags down below.

Warning Signs

One of the first warning signs you could receive is a vague or questionable email address and subject title. If you receive an email with a subject titled “Baby waiting for you!”, an eyebrow and a question should be raised. If the email address ends in @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, or anything other than the company’s name, make sure to do your research on the facilitator or agency. Also, beware of generic messages. These are emails that lack specifics. You could be one of many receiving the same message. The usual scammer makes their first point of contact via email.

A sure-fire warning sign is the recipient requesting money. Money should never be exchanged without discussing it with an adoption professional first. At this point, all communication should cease until you speak with an adoption professional. The recipient may also request a plane ticket. This is common for overseas scams. The recipient may explain they want to have their baby in your country. Only problem is the baby may not actually exist or the recipient does not plan to complete the adoption process.

An expecting mother approaching you about adopting her twins could tug at your heart strings. Unfortunately, this is a classic scam that happens around major, sentimental holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc. Scammers rely on these holidays to lower your guard. They hope you want a child bad enough that you will agree to the situation quickly with little to no objection.

 

Red Flags

  • Pressure to sign documents you don’t understand.
  • If any guarantees are made.
  • If they rush to the topic of you paying expenses.
  • If they refuse to meet with the adoption professional or agency.
  • If agency or facilitator refuses to return your phone calls or emails.
  • If birth mother doesn’t provide proof of pregnancy.
  • If agency or facilitator says they will be in touch with you instead of giving their phone number.
  • If anyone is selling a baby online for money.

 

Suggestions

Whether you choose to go through an agency or use an adoption professional make sure to do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the company or the professional. Learn your legal rights to adoption. You can join groups online that discuss tips on how to avoid adoption fraud. If you are a prospective adoptive parent here are a few ways to avoid “Birth Mother Scams”. Set up a phone conversation. Get confirmation of pregnancy. You can request a copy of her ultrasound. If she can’t send it or doesn’t want to, find out if your adoption professional has the right paper work to request the ultrasound. If she refuses to speak with your adoption professional and refuses to send an ultrasound, things may not be as they seem. When in doubt always contact your agency or adoption professional. They have more experience in these situations and can help you navigate through the process. Adoption professionals don’t have any emotional attachments to the situation, so they can ask the expectant mother the hard questions.

Relax & Breathe…

Don’t let the possibility of a scam scare you away from adoption. Adoption is a great way to expand your family. Just keep in mind, never jump into a situation that seems too good to be true. Do your own research on whomever you choose to use as an agency or as an adoption professional. Take the time to learn adoption laws in the state you reside. Find adoption information meetings that you can attend to familiarize yourself with the process. It’s unfortunate, scams like these make adoptive parents leery of posting their profiles, specifically on the internet. Remember, that the internet is just a tool being used. Scams can happen at any time, on any platform, and can involve professionals. I can’t say it enough… DO YOUR RESEARCH!

What Happens Next: Domestic Adoption for First Time Applicants

Choosing to adopt is a big decision. You have explored all the roads to adopt and have determined that Domestic Adoption is the right path to expand your family. We are sure you will have plenty of questions about the journey including the process and so we have created a step-by-step guide for first time families working with AFTH. Know that our social workers are always there for you whether it’s one simple question or a list of 100 questions you’d like to talk about.

1) Complete your application. Read and sign each form including Description of Services for Fees Contract and Agency Policies for Domestic Adoption. Return completed forms to AFTH with your application fee.

2) Upon receiving your application, you will be contacted by an adoption social worker to schedule an individual adoption counseling session.

3) After meeting with a social worker, you will be required to attend an Education Course, Home Study Sessions and Transracial Adoption Course for those considering adopting a child of a different race.

The Education Course dives into the topic of open adoption from the perspectives of all three members of the adoption triad: adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees.

 

The Transracial Adoption Course discusses topics related to raising a child of a different race necessary for prospective adoptive parents considering transracial adoption to explore. The interactive training debunks the idea of being colorblind, discusses strategies for becoming a multicultural family and reviews how to talk with children about race and racism.

 

The Home Study Sessions cover topics including your road to adoption, parenting and discipline. They are typically held in a group setting with other families. Additionally, you will be given a list of the required paperwork to complete for your home study. Once your home study paperwork is received, a social worker will visit your home.

 

4) After your home visit, you will come to a Profile Meeting. The focus is your profile (which is a 10 page visual story of your family for expecting parents to view) and profile key (guide for social worker indicating your preferences regarding expectant parent situations). Meeting topics include the dos and don’ts of creating your profile, overview of the profile key, the process after being selected and what to expect at the hospital.

5) Then, you will come into the office for a Video Session to create a 5 minute video. It allows you to talk candidly about your family and let your personality shine. Expecting parents have the ability to view videos in addition to seeing profiles when selecting a family.

6) Families submit their profile to their social worker for approval. Your profile will be shown to all expecting parents agency-wide whose situations match your profile key. You will be given the opportunity to have your profile and video on our website as well to increase your exposure.

7) During the wait, you will have access to your social worker for any questions and concerns. You are also encouraged to take advantage of support groups and continuing education classes.

8) When selected by expecting parents, you will have a match meeting with your social worker to review background information about the placement. In the case of Emergency Placements, which currently account for nearly 50% of our agency’s placements, all of the information will be discussed with you over the phone and recapped in a follow up email due to time constraints.

9) At the time of being matched, you will be given escrow forms to submit your placement and miscellaneous fees which will be placed in an escrow account until the time of placement. In the event of an Emergency Placement, the fees are be deemed earned at that time forgoing the escrow account.

10) Upon the expecting parent’s request, if time allows, a pre-placement meeting will be held with the social worker, prospective adoptive parents and expecting parents. In the case of Emergency Placements, the prospective adoptive parents may have an opportunity to meet the expecting parents at the hospital.

11) When it’s time to travel to the hospital, you will meet with a social worker at the hospital to complete the placement paperwork and then meet the baby and possibly the biological parents as well.

12) After the birth parents sign their legal consent to adoption, the baby will be discharged with you from the hospital. IMPORTANT – Keep in mind that during this time the child’s birth parents have a revocation period which varies from state to state. The revocation period is time for the birth parents to be certain of their decision. During this time, birth parents may legally change their mind(s) and choose to parent.

13) If the baby is born outside your state of residence, you will be required to stay within 2 hours of the hospital and will be unable to return home until interstate paperwork is processed and approved by both states.

14) When you do return home, your social worker will conduct post placement visits with your family.

15) The adoption will then be finalized between 6-8 months after placement. AFTH hosts ongoing events and classes to bring families together for support. Your social worker will continue to be available for you to answer any questions you may have as your child grows.

 

How To Tell Your Child’s Adoption Story

Explaining a child’s adoption story can be overwhelming for the adoptive parents. Some don’t know when is a good time to tell their child, while others are unclear on how to tell them. For starters, there is no right or wrong way to discuss adoption with your child. However, it is best to start introducing positive adoption language as soon as possible. Your child should be familiar with adoption language because it is a part of their story & their identity. Down below are a few tips to help you tell your child their adoption story.

How & When to Explain

Make sure to take your child’s age and maturity into consideration. The story should be simple and age appropriate. Give them details that you can elaborate on as they get older. The details should be truthful, so that you don’t contradict yourself later. Share the excitement with an upbeat tone. Understand what your child is asking. Let them know that it’s okay to ask questions and talk about their adoption at any time. Don’t be afraid to revisit topics you may have explained at an earlier time. This will happen as your child’s curiosity grows and their understanding develops over time.

Ages 0-4

            This is the best time to start sharing your child’s adoption story. Let’s face it kids love being the center of attention. They’ll be more eager to listen to their own story. Whether it’s the story of their birth or the story of the magnificent time they made your family whole, they want to hear it. The meaning of adoption doesn’t quite sink in yet, so keep the story basic. Let them know they were born the same way everyone else is. They grew in their mother’s tummy, but she couldn’t parent at that time. Explain that you wanted to be a parent very much, so you adopted him/her. Include that their birth and adoption were both awesome events that will never be forgotten.

Ages 5-11

            Within this age group, the concept of adoption and having two sets of parents becomes clear. As your child gets older and mentally develops you may notice them experiencing more complex feelings of loss and feeling different. Make sure to have open dialogue with your child. It is essential to see how they are putting the story together. Your child’s stage of development, emotional & intellectual maturity may determine how they piece the information together. Answer any questions regarding their birth parents appropriate for their age. If any misconceptions of their birth parents form, offer alternative views to address the situation.

 

Ages 12-18

Around this age children in general begin pulling away from their parents to form their own identity. Children who have been adopted may have a difficulty forming an identity if there is any information lacking. Parents can help by understanding the need for this information. Help them attain the information they are searching for. Also, give them the freedom to explore it. As for any age, make sure to keep the line of communication open. It is vital to hear what your child is saying and what they are asking. Allow them to share their feelings with you. Help them with any struggles they may be having regarding their adoption or their birth parents.

 

Time is of The Essence

When talking to your child about their adoption story timing is everything. It’s best to start as early as possible. Don’t let your child’s adoption story be a family secret. If you didn’t tell their story when they were young children, start telling them soon. It is important to let them know that they can come to you with any questions they may have. Always leave an open line of communication regarding their adoption or birth parents. As children get older, their questions may become more complex. Be open and accepting to whatever they may want or need to know.

Adoption: Changing Perspective & Broadening My View

When I first began working in the field of adoption, most of my personal experience had been from the viewpoint of adoptive parents. Growing up I had family members and friends who had adopted children both internationally and domestically including foster care. So, I had seen what the process was like from that side of the experience. It wasn’t until I fully dove into the world of adoption entering the field as a professional at age 24, when my perspective began to change. It wasn’t that I discovered what I thought I had known wasn’t true, but I saw a much broader experience which included expecting and birth parents as well as adoptees.

I stepped back to see the bigger picture. I have had the joy of witnessing thousands of families brought together through adoption over the years. I saw children growing up and families come back to expand their family a second and third time. What impacted me the most was also seeing another side of the experience as thousands of women facing unplanned pregnancies entrusted the agency to help walk them through all their options. These women were confronting one of the most difficult decisions in their lives and they needed support no matter what they chose in the end. I was hungry for even more knowledge to continuing broadening my view. I sought out adoptees willing to share their stories, mostly through online forums, and I listened. It can be challenging to listen, I mean really hear what is being said especially what it’s not all rainbows and sunshine but it’s so important.

Now as an adoptive mother, my perspective continues to change and develop having first hand experience with open adoption. Seeing my daughter’s mother’s experience and growing together through open adoption has deepened my perception. I don’t just see adoption from the viewpoint of adoptive parents anymore as I did when I was younger. When I’m moving through life with my young daughter, I push myself to see from her point of view. What is it like for her growing up as a transracial adoptee? Are there things I find celebratory like Mother’s Day and her birthday that might have a complex duality for her as she grows up? When we text, videochat or visit with her birth mother it’s evident how complex adoption can be. My daughter’s birth mother has become a part of our family and we love her deeply. If someone sat us down and asked us both to “walk us through your adoption experience,” we would have starkly different answers. If you charted our journeys on the same timeline, my moments of greatest joy would most likely correspond to her deepest times of sorrow.

To realize it’s not just about me is humbling.  Much of the time, I’m the least who matters because the impact for my daughter and her other mother is so much deeper because of the loss they have experienced through adoption. I’m not saying that adoption isn’t a beautiful thing. It has amazing and joyous aspects for everyone involved. But what I do want to press upon prospective adoptive parents is that isn’t all that adoption is. The journey for every member of the triad is shockingly different.

Simply put, adoption is bittersweet. I don’t mean that to say one side of the equation is always feeling happy while the other side is always feeling down. It’s not a seesaw. The exact moment I’m feeling so joyous to hold my daughter in my arms and introduce her to her new family I can feel devastation for  her other mother who is most certainly in pain. When we video chat, Momma J may experience happiness and excitement when our daughter shows off her newest superhero move and at the same time heartbroken that the circumstances weren’t different when she made the decision to place. My daughter is still too young to voice too many adoption related thoughts but when she is a little older her birthday might be a time of celebration and sadness. Opposite feelings can be meshed together at any one time adding complexities to our lives.

As I continue to grow as a professional and as a mother through adoption, I am committed to a simple life motto: Know Better, Do Better.

So if you are just beginning the process as a prospective adoptive parent, I would encourage you to challenge what you already know by seeking out voices of birth parents and adoptees and take it all in. Every story is unique but there are often common themes connecting each experience. It won’t be easy, but it will enrich your journey and better prepare you to raise a child who comes into your home through open adoption.

The more stories you hear from adoptees and birth parents the more opportunity your viewpoint has to stretch and grow. I found myself thinking differently, with a higher level of empathy for others touched by the same process but in very different ways. Personally, the biggest impact first hit me while I navigated the waiting process. Instead of focusing solely on the loss for prospective adoptive parents, which would have been my primary focus before entering the world of adoption, when hearing the terms “disruption” or “disappointment ” I found myself thinking about the happiness the child’s mother was feeling in her decision to parent.

You might notice your thoughts during your process shifting too. After rushing to the hospital for an emergency placement, you might find yourself struggling when asked to wait in other room for an extended period of time while the biological family is bonding with the baby. Understandably, you just can’t wait to hold the child in your arms. It may help to remember that in that moment, the child’s mother and family are squeezing in precious time before preparing to say goodbye.

As you are hopeful in counting down the revocation period until you can celebrate becoming a forever family, remember that “forever” decision is weighing heavily on the woman who is making sure she is certain that adoption is the right choice.

I’m not asking readers to completely shift their beliefs about adoption. I would just encourage prospective adoptive parents to actively seek out adoptee and birth parent voices whether it be online or in-person to gain a better understanding of all the sides of the adoption experience. Keep in mind, someday soon you hope to be a parent of an adoptee and in a life-long relationship with parents who have chosen adoption through openness and so learning about those experiences now from those who lived it will only help you when that time comes.

Surviving The Wait

Bottles? Check. Diapers? Check. Bassinet? Check. Baby? Not so much. Adoption can be a beautiful and rewarding process. In some cases, adoption can be as quick as a few months. Then there are other cases, where the adoption wait can go from months to years. This can be a nerve-racking experience. Adoptive parents go through every inch of red tape by filling out the application and completing the mounds of paperwork. Don’t forget about getting fingerprinted for the required clearances. Finally, the home study is completed, your profile has been created, and you are available to be shown to expecting parents. For many waiting families, this can sometimes be the hardest part of the process.

You may be thinking; we’ve done everything we were asked to do and now we wait. The paperwork, though time consuming was the easy part because it was in our control, but now the unknowns begin, we cannot control how long we wait.

During this stage, many things will go through your head. Should we prepare the nursery? Do we start or continue buying baby supplies/clothes? What do I tell my employer? Will we even be placed with a child? It is normal to feel this way. Sometimes it isn’t just the wait that is out of our control. There can be outside factors that are impacting your wait as well. Most of the time, families are waiting for an expectant mother to pick their family. Then after a family is picked there are still many unknowns to be answered. That leaves families to wonder, “what can we do?” Here are a few tips on surviving the wait!

                    Get Involved

One of the best ways to survive the wait is to get involved. Read adoption articles, magazines, books, & blogs. It’s good to familiarize yourself with what is going on in the adoption world. If you are open to adopting a child of another race, now is the time to begin educating yourself about the complexities of transracial adoption. Read stories about other adoptions, so you know you are not alone in the process. Ask your agency if they offer support groups. These support groups can be very helpful. You can talk to other adoptive parents that are waiting too. It’s healthy to have a place where you can be honest about your feelings and hear what others are going through.

Keep your profile, home study, and clearances current and up to date if you have been waiting for a while.  Now is the time to stay connected with your social worker. Don’t be afraid to call to check in, share what you are struggling with and ask any questions that you may have thought of since your last contact. Your social worker is there for you.

                 Write A Journal

This might sound crazy, but share a journal with your spouse. When your child gets older it will be rewarding to share with him/her your experiences while waiting to be placed. This is a great way to express your feelings and thoughts while going through the adoption process. Let immediate family and friends write an entry as well. Most of the time, it’s not just prospective adoptive parents that are struggling with the wait. Family and friends anticipate the arrival of the child too. Entries from family and friends give the “outside looking in” perspective. These added entries show how much you and your family want and love the child that is being adopted.

Make sure to add in any accomplishments that lead you to the next step in the adoption process, it can help you visualize how far you have come in the process already. Add pictures of you preparing for the nursery/baby room, shopping for baby supplies/items, and family gatherings. Imagine years from now when you and your family look back over these journal entries, videos, and pictures how much love and appreciation will fill the room. You will not only be able to tell your child how much you love them and couldn’t wait for them to get here, but letting them see it in a tangible form. There are some things that words alone cannot describe.

If you are struggling with the wait, writing can be therapeutic. One adoptive mother explains, “I often felt alone during the wait. I mean my husband was waiting too but we handle our emotions differently. It was hard for outsiders to understand my struggle with all the unknowns. When I came across another woman’s blog post about her struggle during the wait, it made me feel connected. She was saying exactly what I was feeling and it felt good to know others were thinking what I was too. It actually sparked me starting my own blog and I cannot tell you how helpful it was to write about my journey while I waited.”

 

Learn About Other Member of the Adoption Triad

Learning about adoptees and birth parents can be both enlightening and beneficial. Your perspective is only one part of the equation on this journey and it is vital to seek out and listen to voices from the other member of the adoption triad.

Read blogs by women who have placed their child for adoption. You’ll find out that there are more myths than facts. Not all birth mothers come from low income, broken families. Not all birth mothers are homeless and addicted to drugs. No, birth mothers are not “giving up” their baby and “taking the easy way out”. Take the time to learn the circumstances of birth parents. For one second, consider the mother that has the onerous task of choosing the family that will adopt her child. It can be a happy and disheartening moment all at once. No one wakes up and says they are going to place their child for an adoption today. The circumstances of life lead both adoptive parents and birth mothers to adoption. Read articles and stories of birth mothers to understand their side of the story that few get to hear.

Additionally, explore the voices of adoptees. You will be raising a child who came into your family through adoption and so it will be helpful to hear from those who have experienced it so you can better understand your child’s point of view. Challenge yourself, even when it may be hard to listen, to truly hear adoptees. The challenges and joys they experience. When you know the common struggles adoptees face, you will be better equipped to parent your child

    Talk to Your Employer/ Travel Options

Nine times out of ten you are going to need time off for your adoption process. Talk to your employer as soon as possible to let them know what’s going on. Let them know you might need 2-3 weeks of time off when your placement occurs. Ask your employer if they offer reimbursement of adoption expenses. Some employers do and some do not, but it never hurts to ask.

Research your travel options. Find the cheapest and easiest way to travel when you are ready to leave. It’s difficult to get exact prices, being as though you don’t know the dates you will be traveling. However, you can get an approximate estimate. Look up hotels and car rentals (if you’ll be needing one). If you choose to fly, research which city is best to fly out of, in the event you are not flying out of your residential city. If you are adopting an infant, check the state laws to find out when a newborn can legally board an aircraft. It varies from state to state and you don’t want to find out the day your family is trying to go home.

                             

                Get Some House Work Done

Do you remember that “To-Do List” that’s been collecting dust on your refrigerator? Well, you might want to put some work in to finish most of it before the baby comes. Get some quotes for that bathroom you have been wanting to remodel. D.I.Y. type of person? Price out the materials and tools you will need to remodel that bathroom. If the spare bedroom needs a fresh coat of paint, now is as good a time as any. Things will change when the baby arrives. Taking care of baby becomes priority #1 and getting sleep will be priority #1.5.

 

                                All of This Goes to Say

Much easier said than done, but enjoy the process. Good things come to those who wait. Use these tips to help keep you busy or get your mind off waiting. One day you will look back and appreciate the time you spent waiting for the new addition that made your family whole!

After Seeing Thousands of Adoption Profiles, How Hard Could It Be to Create Our Own?

AFTH’s Director of Marketing and Communications saw a different side of the adoption experience when she and her husband began the journey as prospective adoptive parents. She has chronicled their journey in her Adoptive Families Circle blog

One of the steps of the process challenged her in ways she wasn’t expecting. Read her Adoptive Families Circle blog about the obstacles she faced when creating their profile.

profile-design

Going into the adoption process, we knew it was paperwork heavy and that, by the end, we could probably go pro if “avoiding paper cuts” were an Olympic sport. We also knew that there would be parts of the process that would flow more easily than others, such as gathering all the home study requirements (which took more effort and time than I expected).

From the moment my husband and I submitted our application, I was excited about working on our adoption profile and I thought this would be one of the easier parts. I have seen thousands of families’ profiles in the 10 years I’ve worked at the agency. That exposure, coupled with my graphic design background, made me confident in my ability to easily produce a winning profile, if there is such a thing. That is, until I started actually working on it. I had a blast creating the backgrounds and planning the layout, and then my creative juices came to a screeching halt when my husband and I began to add the real content. You would think, being a blogger, that the words would come easily; I mean we are experts on ourselves. I can easily talk about how great a dad and husband David is all day long, or what it is like to live in our neighborhood. The truth is, seeing so many profiles before creating our own was a hindrance. Because I had seen so many examples and ideas, it severely clouded my vision of how I wanted our profile to look.

I tried to jumpstart my efforts by brainstorming different themes to pull through our profile, to show who we really are as a family. I was so excited about the list I made, which included: being a lighthearted and fun couple, the importance of both immediate and extended family in our lives, what a great team we are as parents, and the creativity and laughter that fill our home every day. As it turns out, those are the exact same points every other hopeful adoptive couple or parent is trying to highlight in their own profile. My excitement faded and I found myself stuck and without direction, again.

So, how did I get on the right track? Well, to be honest, attending the agency’s profile meeting was very helpful. I had been too eager to get started to wait for the meeting; shame on me. Social workers displayed examples of what to do and not to do. The social workers also shared feedback from expectant mothers, which was invaluable. All of the things they went over in that meeting were things I knew, but just couldn’t seem to apply. It felt like I was wearing blinders when it came to creating our own profile.

The truth of the matter is that expectant parents choose families for so many different reasons. It could be because of the connection they see between the couple, the neighborhood the family lives in, the parent’s love of Halloween, the activities they participate in, or even because they play Scrabble on the weekends with their neighbors (true story). A woman considering adoption may be looking for a family with children or a family where her baby will be their first. She may want a family who is less than a few hours away to make open adoption visits easier, or she may choose a family in a different state because that is where she visited her grandparents as a child. She may choose an older couple because of their life experience or a single parent because she was raised by her father. She may have no other explanation than “I just knew they were the ones.”

Ultimately, it is the unique qualities of our family that will aid in us being selected. Not that we are more unique than any other family, but something about who we are will foster a connection with her. Instead of trying to create the “perfect” profile, I shifted my focus to creating a profile that most accurately showcases who we are, what it’s like to be a member of our family. We are not a “Leave It to Beaver” type of family. We make mistakes and stumble, just as all parents and people do. We may lose our patience after a hard day at work, or forget that the play date was rescheduled and arrive on the wrong day. To be clear, I’m not going to have a page dedicated to our faults; however, I am going to highlight our humanness. It will be clear that there is always room on our laps and in our arms, and love in our hearts. We want to show that laughter and smiles occur much more frequently than tears, and that kisses and hugs are more numerous than time outs. Most importantly, I want to show that our commitment to our child’s birth parents will not fade. We will keep our promises. We are extending our faith that we will be chosen and she is extending her faith that we will raise her child, our child, in the best way we know how.

With that said, I have thrown away my preconceived standards of what I originally thought our profile should be, and instead focused my attention on creating it from within our hearts. We are who we are, and that will be what makes our profile shine to just the right person.