It’s probably the hardest letter you’ll ever write. But it could also be the most important — the one document that could clinch your chances of becoming a parent.
A parent profile (or “Dear Birth Mother” letter, as it’s also known) is a letter written to a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy who’s considering adoption for her child. It’s basically a story –your story, told from your perspective, and running anywhere from 1,000-1,500 words.
The first thing you need to know is that writing parent profile is more of an art than a science. And yet there are reasons why some succeed while others fail. The key is to find the elements that will create an emotional connection with your reader early on, and then to build on those elements over time in order to create a solid, lasting relationship.
To do that, your letter needs to be heartfelt, honest and intimate. And it needs to show you in the best possible light. That’s quite a balancing act. But with a bit of care and consideration, it can be done. For starters, your letter should give readers a good sense of who you are and what sets you part from other waiting parents. It should include information about your interests, beliefs, and values. But also about the kind of parents you would be and how you see the prospective birth parents fitting into your new life. After all, if there’s nothing in your letter for them, why should they choose you?
You won’t have a chance to include everything. So be selective — what are the three or four things you want readers to know about you?The content of your letter is important, but so is the wording, tone and flow. Because this will be your first real chance to speak to prospective birth parents, be sure to devote enough time and attention to get it right. Your ability to create an image of yourself as a potential parent will not only determine whether you become one, but when.
And lastly, try not to drive yourself crazy – or at least too crazy! After all, how many chances do you get to sit back and take stock of your life?! If writing isn’t your forte or if you just want to make sure that your profile addresses everything it needs to, our two writing services can give you a hand. Or follow these tips:
Make It Concise
For maximum effect, keep your letter short, simple and to the point. Don’t say something in twenty words when ten will do the trick. What you leave out is often just as important as what you put in. Whenever possible, organize your copy into short sections — “About John” “About Rebecca” “About Us” etc. This will help structure your thoughts, and make your profile easier to read. If you’re unsure what to say, refer to other letters posted on this site as examples. But please don’t copy them. Your profile should be just as individual and unique as you are.
Make It Truthful
What does that mean? For starters, write from the heart. But try not to get too mushy or cute. And don’t say anything that could come back to haunt you later. For instance, don’t write that you plan to be a stay-at-home-mom if you have no intentions of doing so. (Many prospective birth mothers will see right through statements like that anyway). Remember, this is your letter of introduction, the first step in what could be a very long — and hopefully, strong — relationship. Be sure to start it off with a solid foundation.
Make It Compassionate
Remember that the person you’re writing to is going through a difficult time. Let her know you understand that and that you’re there for her. You know that you’re kind, caring and compassionate. Let her know, too. Your empathy will move her and your insights will inspire her, hopefully resulting in an lasting rapport.
Make It Real
Supposing you ran into a prospective birth mother on the street, what would you tell her? In composing your letter, write about what it’s like to be you — the “real” you. Make it interesting, and don’t worry about being perfect. Perfect people are boring to read about. And besides, if everything’s all nice and rosy, your letter won’t ring true. It’s our imperfections that set us apart and make us who we are. So don’t be afraid to show them, as well as your strengths. Imagine that you’re writing to a friend. Be open and honest and treat your reader with the respect and dignity she deserves. Be helpful, but don’t be judgemental. And don’t talk down.
Make It Memorable
Wherever possible, try to come up with concrete details and/or anecdotes that will help a prospective birth mother picture the kind of person you are and the kind of parent you would be. Show, don’t tell. For instance, instead of saying “We’ll make great parents” talk about the time that you took your neice to the zoo or taught your friend’s son to skate on the homemade rink you made last winter in the backyard. Make sure that your content is family- and child-centred. Try to convey some of the lessons your parents taught you and the ones that you hope to pass on to your children. Your personal stories will resonate much more than a laundry list of your accomplishments and they’ll save you the trouble of coming across like a braggart.
Make It Personal
As a rule, letters written in the first person — through the perspective of a prospective adoptive mother — work best. Make it easy for your birth mother to relate to your struggles, joys and sorrows. But don’t forget to include your partner, even if it’s nothing more than a line at the end saying, “John’s right here looking over my shoulder as I write this.”
Make It Funny
If humour comes naturally to you, don’t be afraid to show it. It’s one thing you’ll need in spades in the months ahead. But don’t push it. Being funny in this context, of course, doesn’t mean dropping one-liners or sharing a favourite joke. It means adopting a certain lightness in tone, a detachment, to cut through some of the stress and anxiety you and your reader will likely be experiencing at this time. Nothing cuts through the tension more or puts people more at ease than a nice bit of humour.
Make It Informative
Discuss you and your partners’ lives apart and together, but don’t neglect to share your views on other subjects such as parenting and adoption. Remember, you’re not writing a thesis. You just want to address some of the basic questions about how you intend to raise your child and what are your hopes and dreams for his future. If you already have another child or children, by all means mention the difference they’ve made to your life. Nothing will help them visualize you as parents better than by describing some of the things you do together as a family. But try not to get too carried away. (It’s enough that YOU know you’ve got the greatest kid in the world!). After all, you don’t want to give the reader the impression that no child can compare to the one you’ve got or that there’s not enough room in your heart or your home for another one.
Make It Original
We should have mentioned this earlier, but we might as well mention it now: There is no right way or wrong way to write a parent profile or “Dear Birth Mother” letter. Just as no two couples will be alike, no two letters will be alike either. So don’t get discouraged if yours doesn’t read quite as well as the next person’s. This isn’t a competition. Besides, you never know what a birth mother will be searching for or what will grab her attention. While your letter may not appeal to every birth mother, remember that at the end of the day all you want to do is click with one.
Make It Accurate
Once you get to the end of your letter, go back to the beginning and read it over. Because we’ll be posting your text as we receive it, you’ll want to make sure that everything is just right — that all the t’s are crossed, the i’s dotted. You may find yourself taking a few stabs at it before you get it right. But then nobody said it would be easy summing up your life in 1,500 words or less.
Ten Common Mistakes Adoptive Parents Make in Writing their Parent Profile
- They underestimate the importance of having strong photos and lots of them.
- They overemphasize their financial well being.
- They make themselves sound so perfect that nothing else seems credible.
- They say things that they can’t back up in later conversations.
- They don’t make it individual or personal enough.
- The tone is too heavy-handed on one end of the spectrum, and too earnest, on the other.
- They don’t emphasize their experience with children enough.
- They don’t paint a picture of the kind of life their children will have with them.
- They devote too much space to their infertility problems.
- They don’t structure their thoughts or go over their letter carefully enough once they finish.