How We Wrote Our Adoption Profile Letter

This guest blog is by Erin Paterson, an adoptive mother and author.

One evening I sat down at my desk in my home office, turned on the orange lamp next to me, and prepared to write by its soft glow. Before placing my fingers on the keyboard, I took a deep breath and sat there imagining the expectant parents somewhere out there, trying to make the extremely difficult decision to place their baby for adoption.

My gaze drifted across the computer to the framed photographs of seed pods, wildflowers, and ferns on the far wall while I contemplated what to write. As I started typing, I pictured myself writing a letter to a friend and just tried to talk to them in a friendly way.

Tap, tap, tap of the keys. Pausing, fingers resting on the keyboard, eyes wandering to the window overlooking our driveway and the neighbour’s giant blackberry tree beyond. Deep in thought, taking a sip of hot tea.

I tried to understand what it would be like to be in the expectant mother’s shoes. I ran through all the different reasons she might be choosing adoption. I imagined meeting her for the first time. Having a coffee with her at a local coffee shop, awkwardly getting to know each other. Hoping she liked us enough to let us adopt her baby.

I knew I would be there to support her through her pregnancy if she wanted me to. Driving her to doctor’s appointments, being by her side when she delivered. I wondered if it would be too painful for her to continue the relationship after the birth or whether she would want to drop by on weekends for a visit.

I was terrified of what open adoption looked like, but I knew I would deal with it for the well-being of my adopted child.

We had learned during PRIDE classes that it was believed to be in the best interests of the child to maintain a connection with the biological parents through an open adoption. Sometimes that meant sending them an update once a year, but other times it meant phone calls and regular visits.

It was up to the biological parents to decided what they wanted. I tried to look at having the biological parents around as extended family. It’s just a different version of family than I am used to, I thought. I was trying to be open to the endless possibilities of what a family created through adoption could look like and not let my fear stop me.

I pulled my gaze away from the blackberry tree and back to the few sentences I had written. The cursor flashing on my computer screen, waiting for me to come up with the right things to say. Typing a few words. Pausing, wondering.

Finally my fingers started tapping away on the keyboard again as I tried to describe everything about us. Where we lived, our interests, our jobs, our hobbies. Then I told them how I imagined an ideal Sunday afternoon. My husband, Daniel, chasing our child around the house trying to tickle their toes while I baked homemade cookies in the kitchen.

Writing the letter was emotionally complex because I knew I was going to be judged on the content of our adoption profile. I was upset that I had to go through all of this for a chance to become a mom. I was angry that I had to convince someone else I was worthy of being a parent.

As I sat writing that letter, I let the built-up emotions out. I cried for all that we had been through already and for everything we still had to get through in order to become parents.

Satisfied with the final edit, it was then time to pair the letter with some pictures and make copies of our adoption profile.A glossy, expensive book created online was not the right fit, so I decided to hand-make our adoption profiles out of brightly coloured paper from the craft store.

Daniel and I spent one evening in our dining room assembling them. I was sitting on the floor in front of the buffet with the individual pages laid out in front of me. I would pass a stack to Daniel, who was sitting at the table, and he would fasten the corresponding photos and decorative trim into place on each page. His engineering background helped him make sure everything was just so.

Each book was different from the last, a mixture of turquoise, orange, pink, and blue paper, some patterned with stripes and polka dots.

Our letter to the expectant parents printed out over ten pages, each with one or two photographs. Pictures of our house so they would see where their baby would grow up, our families so they would know who the grandparents, aunts, and uncles were. Photos from our recent vacation and at the finish line of a half-marathon so they could see what our interests were. Daniel standing in a construction site and me in my flower shop so they could see us happy in our careers.

By the end of the evening we had assembled twenty adoption profiles, which were ready to be sent to adoption lawyers across the province.

Toronto author and public speaker, Erin Paterson, tested gene positive for Huntington’s Disease (HD) in 2006. Shortly after she started suffering from depression, then received more crushing news, she was infertile. Despite those diagnoses she was determined to have a family and live a joyful life.  She is the author of “All Good Things:  A Memoir About Genetic Testing, Infertility and One Woman’s Relentless Search for Happiness,” an excerpt of which is included above. Find out more at

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