Seven seconds. That’s it.
That’s all the time you have to make a good impression when you meet someone for the first time.
And making a good first impression through your adoption profile is no different.
We’re all busy, with places to go, people to see, and things to do. Our attention spans are getting shorter by the day.
For better or worse, within mere seconds of meeting someone for the first time, our minds kick into overdrive, asking questions, seeking answers, processing information, before making a snap judgement that will determine our next move.
A prospective mother goes through the very same evaluation process when she comes across your adoption profile.
- Who are these people?
- What do they want?
- Do I like them?
- Can I trust them?
- Should I contact them?
Online, the process is no different. The only difference is because there are so many more distractions, so many more things going on at once, you have even less time to make a decision.
Think about it: How many times have you gone online looking for one thing and then found yourself wasting time somewhere else? When was the last time you ended up at a site only to forget why or how you arrived there in the first place?
Don’t worry, it happens to me all the time. The internet is one giant rabbit hole. Once you go down, it’s easy to get lost.
When you consider how many sites there are and how the slightest interruption like a phone call, an incoming email or a knock on the door can break your concentration, you should count yourself lucky that a prospective birthmother found your adoption profile at all.
So knowing what you know now, that you have only a handful of seconds to get her attention and hold it, what can you do? How do you grab her attention? How do you win her over?
The truth is, you don’t have a lot to work with. Your profile can’t speak — not literally anyway. When you meet someone for the first time, there are a variety of signals you can resort to that will give you insights into their character and what they’re like as people.
- A friendly smile
- A firm handshake
- A comforting tone of voice.
In your adoption profile you don’t have any of these tools to help you along. All you have are visual cues: a bunch of words on a screen and some photos. So how do you build a rapport with someone you’ve never met with just words and pictures?
It isn’t easy, but it can be done. I’ll tell you about how to do it in a few moments. But first, look at it from a prospective birthmother’s perspective since that’s who your adoption profile is directed to.
If you think you’ve got it hard, put yourself in her shoes. There she is, about to make probably the most important, the difficult decision of her life and what does she have to go on? That’s right: A bunch of words on a page and some photos.
Given the limitations of what you have to work with, the key to success is to make sure that every element, every ingredient in your profile, counts. Every choice you make must be motivated. There has to be a reason behind it. It has to send out some type of positive message about you.
What do you want a prospective birthmother to take away from your adoption profile? That you’re
- All of the above?
It’s up to you to determine what your message is and how to convey it. There are many ways to do it. But generally speaking (and when you’re talking about your adoption profile or creating a connection with a prospective birthmother, there are no hard and fast rules, only general guidelines that you may or may not choose to follow), they all come down to the same thing: trust.
You need to build trust.
It’s the only way to do it. It’s your starting point and your end point. Your alpha and omega. Everything begins and ends with it.
Without trust, there’s nothing to build on. No foundation. And, sorry to say, no future.
Trust can help you in so many ways. And the sooner you can establish it the better.
Trust buys you
- Good will
And if used appropriately, it can bring you future success.
In fact, there’s a direct relationship between trust and success.
And the more time she spends on it, the better she’ll know you. And the better she knows you the more she’ll like you. And the more she likes you the more chance you’ll have of making a connection.
And at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for. Because that’s the goal of your profile, no more and no less.
Your adoption profile isn’t about telling your life story. It’s not about trying to impress a prospective birthmother. It’s not about finding the words to get her to give you her baby.
It’s about giving her a small snapshot of your life and showing her the type of person you are and the type of parent you would be. It’s about creating a genuine connection based on honesty, trust and mutual respect. And ideally, it’s about getting her to get in touch with you so that you can begin learning more about each other and whether you’re the right fit.
Once she contacts you, of course, it’s not the end of the road. You still need to validate her decision and show her that you really are the person portrayed in your profile.
If you’re not, if there’s a disconnect between how you presented yourself and how you really are, you won’t only have broken her trust. You will have broken the connection you developed with her and you may never hear from her again.
So being able to follow up on the impression you’ve made in your adoption profile isn’t just important, it’s critical. But for now, let’s focus on the task at hand: how to make that positive first impression.
How do you build trust? How do you make yourself come across as likeable and approachable? How do you persuade a prospective birthmother that you’re someone worth knowing?
Making sure that your profile depicts you honestly and accurately is a good way to begin. So is finding common ground. But that’s just the start. Here are three other ways your adoption profile can build trust and be successful.
The right look.
Again, imagine for a moment that you’re a prospective birthmother. You’re about to make one of the most important decisions of your life — choosing adoptive parents for your baby — and all you have to go on is some stranger’s adoption profile. Not just one, but a boatload of them, all easily and instantly accessible with a click of the mouse.
What’s more, they all tend to sound the same: “We can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through right now…” How do you know which one is the right one for you? How do you know where to begin?
Your job is to make the decision easier for her. And the best way to do that is to make sure that your profile looks the best it can be. Appearances count. They always have, they always will.
Many adoptive parent spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about how they look in their pictures. Does this picture make me look too fat? Too old? Too tired? Should I smile or look serious? Is my hear in place? Should I wear my glasses? Should I put on a jeans or a shirt? Jeans may be too casual but I don’t really have the right skirt — should I go out and buy one?
Or they worry about they come across in their letter. Should I mention our infertility? What we do for a living? How many parks there are in the neighbourhood? That the reason we don’t have a dog is that I’m allergic to them? That I’m close to my sister but not with my brother? That we’re okay with exchanging photos after the adoption but draw the line on visits?
There’s so many things to consider when you’re putting together your adoption profile. But one obvious but commonly overlooked thing that says loads about you and can put a birthmother instantly at ease is the look of your profile.
If it looks warm and inviting, like you took a lot of time and care putting it together, odds are she’ll appreciate the gesture and return the favour by spending more time on it.
If, on the other hand, it looks like you just slapped it together in the last minute — the layout is clunky, there are lots of typos and misspelled words, not to mention all kinds of unnecessary bells and whistles such as teddy bears and flowers and things that pop in and out of your website — there’s a good chance she’ll pass over it.
When it comes to the details, nothing is too small to ignore.
Everything you do, every choice you make, says something about you. Even a minor thing, like a badly laid out title or a broken link, will make your credibility take a hit.
Yes, it true: No prospective birthmother will decide you’re not adoptive parent material based on one grammatical mistake or a badly designed page. But if the mistakes pile up, that’s another story altogether. Err on the side of caution. Check and double check everything before you send it out. Don’t give her an excuse to question you or do anything that could undermine her confidence in you.
Try to keep the look of your adoption profile as simple and clean as possible.
Remember, you’re the main attraction, not the background. Use colour sparingly. Don’t go overboard on the design. Keep it subdued, not loud and busy.
Same goes for the typography. Less is more. Keep it simple and easy to read. Avoid using fancy fonts or reverse type. Streamline it, using no more than one or two fonts.
Everything should look clean and consistent. On our Adoption Profiles, there’s a reason why every profile looks the same. We want to create a level playing field where everyone has an equal chance of getting found and finding a match.
But when it comes to the layout, we put a lot of time and attention into the details, making sure that everything looks just right, that nothing’s out of place. It’s still a work in process and we still have a lot of work to do., But we understand that it’s the little things that help give you authority and build credibility.
Your website should be no different. Of course, it’s okay to make your profile unique. After all, you want to set it apart. Just make sure that if it does stand out, it does so for the right reasons.
Creating a different look for each page, with all kinds of colours and typography and font sizes, can be disconcerting.
When it comes to making a big decision, nobody likes surprises. To build trust with a prospective birthmother, your profile shouldn’t come out of left field. It should make her feel at home and know what to expect next.
The right photos
Many hopeful adoptive parents slave over their adoption profile letter, writing and re-writing it until every word jumps off the page. But when it comes to choosing their photos, they are often so exhausted from the writing process, so eager to put the experience behind them, that they’ll rush through this next stage.
Instead of carefully selecting photos that will tie back to their profile and enhance their words, they’ll go through their photo albums in a hurry and throw together a pile of pictures almost as an afterthought.
What they don’t realize is that photos are the first thing that a prospective birthmother will see in a profile.
In fact, she’ll spend a lot more time going through your pictures than she will reading your text. That might not seem right or fair, given the countless hours you’ve spent agonizing over every word, but that’s the way it is, especially online.
Internet users don’t read, they scan. They hop, skip and jump from one site to the next, moving around until something grabs their attention and draws them in. You could have the best letter in the world, but if your pictures aren’t up to snuff, it doesn’t matter how good your letter is. A prospective birthmother may never get around to reading it, and what a pity that would be.
So make sure your photos are the best they can be. And that doesn’t just mean that they look sharp and crisp and are properly composed and cropped and not out of focus. That’s the bare minimum.
No, make sure that they’re relevant to the impression you want to make. They need to have value and create impact.
By “relevant,” I mean that they should speak to your goals and the impression you’re trying to make. That they give insights into who you are and the parent you would be.
Casual shots are better than formal ones.
Shots of you being active and doing things in your milieu are better than portraits of you just posing in front of some interesting backdrop.
Not to say that you don’t need a strong portrait shot. Your main photo is the most important one you have. It should show you the best possible light, looking happy, smiling and looking directly at the camera.
Make sure that your eyes can be easily seen, that they’re not hidden behind a pair of sunglasses or that you’re not looking away from the camera or striking a pose. This isn’t a fashion shot. You’re supposed to look natural. And sometimes looking natural takes a lot of hard work.
For maximum impact, make sure your photos are large, especially your main photo. As mentioned, it’s by far your most important picture, the one that a birthmother will see first and on which your entire future — and as some people may lead themselves to believe, your future happiness — could rests on. Now if that doesn’t make you go back and re-think your photos, I don’t know what will.
The right wording
Your photos are probably the most important single element in your profile. They’re the first thing that a birthmother sees, and if they don’t make a positive impression, they could be the last thing she sees, too.
But that doesn’t mean that your letter is irrelevant. Far from it. Your letter is your opportunity to create a portrait of yourself. To tell your story.
Story telling is not only one of the most effective ways you can build trust and make a positive first impression with your future child’s birthmother. It’s the key to creating a lasting relationship with her as well.
Every story is different, of course, the same way that every person is different.
But every good story has the same thing at its core: a sense of wonder. A beating heart. And compelling characters.
In your story, guess who the main characters are? You! Forget about Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johansson. This is your moment, your chance to take centre stage, to be in the spotlight and take on the role of a lifetime.
Your mission, should you accept it, is to find all of the interesting, relevant facts in your life and put them together in such a way that will help a prospective birthmother make sense of you.
So how do you do that? By stripping away all of the artifice and all the layers of fear that were built up during your infertility treatments and home study process and give yourself permission to be human again. To be vulnerable again. To let down your walls and barriers and open yourself to new possibilities and opportunities.
Everything you want and need to say is right there inside you. All you have to do is reach down and find it.
And that mean just going back to being yourself. It’s that simple. Actually, being yourself isn’t that simple. There are so many things about us that we don’t like or want to change.
The way we look. The way we talk. The way we act. In short, the way we think that others see us.
Truth is, you can’t be anyone else, even if you wanted to be.
So why fight it? Why be afraid to tell it like it is? Why not be open and honest? What’s there to lose? If the prospective birthmother doesn’t like who you are, you aren’t meant to be together. If she does, then you are. It’s as simple as that.
In your profile, describe who you are and what you like to do. Talk about what brought you to adoption and how you feel about it. If you’re scared or nervous or don’t know how it will all work out, don’t be afraid to say as much in your letter.
The prospective birthmother who’s reading it probably feels the same so it’s a good way to break the ice and find something you can both relate to.
If she’s thinking of placing her baby for adoption, she’s likely just as confused, frustrated and uncertain as you are. Maybe even more, since unlike you she doesn’t have the same adoption training and education and support team (family, friends, adoption professionals) that you have.
Everywhere she turns, she feels like someone is judging her for her decision. And even though she may believe that adoption is the best choice she can make for her baby and herself, she may still have doubts about whether she’s doing the right thing.
What she’s looking for are answers and support. So be sure to provide them. Tell her about what’s important to you, what you believe in, what you care about, what your values are, as well as the kind of relationship you want to have with her as your child grows up.
Avoid generalities and cliches like calling your partner your “best friend” or talking about how your husband’s entrance “lights up a room” or how “children always run” to your wife. It’s lazy writing and frankly, no one believes it anyway.
Instead, give concrete (read: real life) examples.
What is it about your partner that appeals to people? Is it her acts of kindness? If so, tell a story about one such instance.
Why do kids think your hubby is the cat’s meow? Is it because he has a good sense of humour or likes to have fun? Is he the kind of guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously or doesn’t mind getting down on his hands and knees if it means having a good time or putting a smile on a child’s face? Again, give an example that illustrates your point. Show, don’t tell.
And, most importantly, when writing your adoption pofile letter, be careful not to make promises you can’t keep.
Even better, stay away from making them altogether. We all know what happens to promises — they tend to get broken.
At this point, you don’t know the first thing about the person who will one day read your profile. All you know is that she’s facing an unplanned pregnancy or has already given birth and is thinking about adoption.
You don’t know how serious she is, what she’s like, what factors have gone into her decision, or what the future holds, for her or for you.
So now isn’t the time to make commitments, to promise her the world. It’s still way too early in process. Once you meet her and get to know each other, you’ll be in a better position to judge.
For now, all you can do is try to make a good first impression, one that hopefully she’ll follow up with a phone call or an email that will give you a chance to know each other on a deeper level.
At this point, your promise should be implicit in every element of your letter.
It should let her know that you respect her and care about her (not just about her baby).
In some way, it should communicate to her that she can trust you to follow through on what you say and that you will love her baby in the way that she wants her baby to be loved and that you will give her baby the kind of future she wants him to have.
And when it comes right down to it, what more could you ask for from someone you don’t know and have never met?
Making a strong first impression in your adoption profile isn’t easy, but it can be done. Every choice you make — from the choice of colours, fonts and layout to the photos you choose and your words you write — needs to be carefully thought out and convey a positive message about you.
If you take the time now to put together your profile, you can feel confident later knowing that you gave it your best shot and that it is an accurate and honest reflection of who you are.
How are you creating a positive first impression in your adoption profile? What do you think makes a strong impact? Share your comments in the space below.
If you’re hoping to make a strong impression with a prospective birthmother check out our Adoption Profile service. Or if you need a little extra help creating your profile or taking it to the next level, check out our writing and marketing services.