Read any blog post about creating an adoption profile and sooner or later you’ll come across the word “authentic” or a variation of it.
“To make a connection with an expectant mother, your profile needs to be authentic.”
“Make sure to show your ‘authentic’ self when speaking to a prospective birthmother.”
“Their profile wasn’t just gorgeous, it was authentic.”
But what exactly does that mean and, more importantly, how do you you convey it to someone who knows nothing about you apart from what they see in your profile?
“Authenticity” is defined as “reliability, dependability, trustworthiness, credibility.”
The irony is that it’s not easy to sound authentic. It takes work. But it can be done. Here are four ways to do it in your adoption profile.
I thought I’d start with photos because they have an immediate impact. Plus, most people find it easier to communicate their thoughts through pictures than through words.
Photos are also the most underestimated part of your adoption profile — the last thing waiting parents do before posting it online or sending it off to the printer.
But think about it for a second: What’s the first thing you notice when you come across a profile? The photos. In a split second, they can make, or break, your chances of getting chosen.
That’s why it’s important to take the time to select your photos at the beginning of the process, rather than at the end.
Just like your words, your photos need to give expectant mothers a glimpse into your life and the kind of parent you would be.
For instance, if you like to travel, make sure you include pictures of your travels. But be sure to mix them up and show other parts of your life.
After all, if the only thing an expectant mother sees are your travel photos, she may wonder whether you’re ready to settle down and become parents.
Your photos are an easy way to show you at your best. But that doesn’t mean they have to be professionally taken. As long as they accurately portray who you are and show you in your milieu, that’s what counts.
Consider this example: two couples are preparing their profile. One couple opts to get their photos done by a professional in a studio, while the other couple gets a friend to take shots of them around their house, amidst toys and other objects scattered on the floor.
So which one gets chosen? The second couple. Why? According to the birthmother who picked them, “they just seemed more real than the other couple.”
As you’ll see, when it comes to getting chosen, being “real” is a lot more important than being perfect.
Your profile should be upbeat. It should show expectant parents how excited you are about being parents and building your family through adoption.
But again, finding the right balance is key. It also needs to be sensitive to the expectant mother’s needs and acknowledge the difficult decision she is about to make.
Expectant parents take their responsibility very seriously. They will often go over dozens of profiles, poring over every word and photo, before making their decision.
So make sure that while your profile is positive, the tone isn’t over-the-top or presumptive.
For instance, in an effort to create a connection, some waiting parents will begin their profile letter with the words, “Dear Friend” or “To A Special Person.”
They may be very sincere in saying that — after all, one day they may very well want to become her friend — but at this stage in your relationship, that choice of words sounds disingenuous and could turn off many readers.
By contrast, you can’t go wrong with a simple “hi” or “hello.” It’s more natural and, well, authentic.
Your adoption profile is your calling card to expectant parents. Until they meet you, it’s the only thing they know about you.
As a result, every word needs to carefully chosen — designed to give an expectant mother a window into your life and create an emotional connection with you.
Whereever possible, try to use specific wording rather than generalities and blanket statements. And stay away from superlatives and exaggerations.
If your partner is good with children, say it. But illustrate your words with a concrete example rather than with something vague like “the room lights up whenever he comes into the room.”
Everything you say needs to create a specific impression about you in your reader’s mind and build your credibility. Because without credibility, your profile doesn’t have a stable foundation to rest on.
Your ideas are at the centre of your profile, and therefore could be the game-changer on whether you get chosen or not by expectant parents.
But no matter how badly you want to get chosen, they have to accurately represent who you are and ring true.
For instance, there’s no point saying you plan to be a stay-at-home mother if you have no intention of doing so. Yes, it may help you in the short run. But if you don’t follow through on your promise, it could create bigger problems for you down the road.
Similarly, there’s no benefit to saying adoption was your first choice when in fact you went through three rounds of IVF beforehand or to say that you want an open adoption relationship without being committed to it.
Many waiting parents go into the profile writing process with the assumption that they have to say certain things or leave out the less attractive parts of their story. They think that if they don’t sound perfect, they won’t get chosen.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Expectant parents aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for people they like and who are like them. People who have similar interests and values, that they can relate to.
Nobody goes through life without suffering a setback every now and then. So if you’ve undergone a challenge, talk about it, don’t hide behind it.
Especially if it says something about you or ties back to your adoption story. Show how that experience has helped you grow as an individual or a couple.
Here’s a good example from one of our waiting parents:
“We have weathered school stress, changes in jobs, living in different cities for a year, and infertility. With each challenge that we face together, we grow stronger as a couple.”
“When we decided to start a family, we thought getting pregnant would be easy! After all, we are both healthy, active, non-smokers. But after many doctor visits, we learned that having biological children was not going to be possible. Even with such devastating news, we always knew, deep in our hearts, that what we really wanted was the opportunity to become parents and build a family. A family filled with unconditional love, laughter and support. So we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and started the journey of building our family through adoption. We refused to give up on our dream. And today, we have a beautiful little boy who, with his big slobbery kisses and delightful giggles, reminds us that it was all worth it.”
Struggled with infertility? Mention it—briefly!—but more importantly, explain how it has strengthened your relationship and your resolve to become parents.
Have a medical condition or a disability? If it doesn’t interfere with your ability to parent, again don’t be afraid to reference it. It will help humanize you and make you real.
Here’s another example, of a waiting mother talking about her partner:
“In awe, I saw him battle back from being diagnosed with a learning disability in university, and put pride aside to accept tutoring with my mother who is a teacher, even when we were still dating. He later had the commitment to study courses on his own to receive his professional engineer designation, a route which is rarely chosen because it takes such incredible internal motivation. I am so proud that he is now a partner in his own structural engineering firm, and love the confidence that these achievements have given to him.”
One of the keys to a success in an adoption profile is explaining what kind of parent you would be.
It’s an topic that many childless couples struggle with. After all, how do you know how easily you’ll bond with a child or what kind of parent you’ll be?
Many couples deal with this issue in one of two ways. Either they say nothing or they play lip service by saying their partner will make a great parent and nothing else.
But saying that on its own, without mentioning or showing (through words and photos) your interactions with children doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t sound real and it doesn’t build credibility.
And if you don’t sound credible about this issue, why should expectant parents believe anything else about you?
One way to tackle this issue is to explain how you’re prepared for parenthood, without sugar-coating it. Here’s how one couple handled the issue:
“Being parents is the toughest job we’ll ever have. We’re certainly not perfect so we’ll undoubtedly make some mistakes along the way. But there’s one thing we do know: Children learn what they live, so it will always be our goal to ‘lead by example’ and demonstrate to your child the values we consider important. This includes treating others with respect, having confidence in yourself, always trying your best and the value of hard work.”
They not only sound believable. They sound disarming and approachable. The kind of people you would want to sit down with and get to know better.
Your adoption profile is one of the best tools you have to connect with expectant parents. But to cut through the noise, it needs to be authentic and make you sound believable and trustworthy.
It’s about being honest. Being open. Being transparent. In short, it’s about being you.
Do you have an adoption story? Share it and inspire others.
Help us remove the stigma around adoption. Like us on Facebook.