Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Creating Your Family Profile: A [Mini] Tutorial

What's the biggest decision you've ever had to make?

What college to go to?
Who to marry?
Which school to send your kids to?
Whether or not to make that big move?  To take that job?  To buy that house?
All of these decisions require time, sometimes research, and always a lot of prayers.

Imagine choosing who will raise your child.

There are a lot of assumptions made in the world of adoption, especially when it comes to how an adoptive family and a birth family are matched.

"Isn't there some kind of waiting list?"
"But birth moms are only looking for a young couple with no kids, right?"
"So how does it work, really..." 

The bottom line is that the birth family chooses an adoptive family to raise their child. There are no waiting lists. No "ideal" families. Just a birth family deciding who they want to become their child's parents. But how do they choose and made such a huge, life-changing decision? The answer, really is, all about an adoptive family's profile. A profile is a scrapbook of sorts that is a creative way to tell your family's story for a birth family. It includes information about your family, your home, your activities, your thoughts on adoption, and your plans for the future.

Your profile is the most critical step in an expectant family finding and choosing you to parent their child.

I've been across the table from birth mothers as I present family profiles. Almost always, one jumps out at her that she starts to connect with through looking at the pictures and reading about the family. Through a profile, she can actually begin to envision what it would look like for her child to grow up in that family.

A family profile includes:
  • Pictures of your family (portrait and candids)
  • How you made the decision to adopt
  • If married, how you met and your relationship with your spouse
  • Information about your personality, work, and what you love to do
  • Your parenting plans (childcare, education, etc.)
  • Information and relationships with extended family
  • General information about your home, neighborhood, and community

So how DO you create a good family profile?

1.  Hire an adoption professional to create your profile
At the very least, have an adoption professional who creates profiles and works with birth parents review your finished product. This will save you an enormous amount of time, headaches, and even money. Creating and printing your own profile that looks professional is extremely time consuming and printing costs alone can be astronomical. The goal is to produce a profile that is creative and professional that is also warm, compassionate, and comforting to a birth family. Knowing what to include in your profile (and what not to include!) is key to communicating through a book for a birth family to view.

2.  Steer clear of the traditional "Dear Birth Mom" letter
These one page letters tend to be emotional pleas to a birth mother about how much a family wants a child and how indebted you would be to her. They tend to blend together for the birth mother reading them and don't really tell your story. Instead, a creative mix of pictures and narrative that gives a birth family insight into your life (your passions, your work, your plans, and your heart for adoption) can communicate more effectively and be much more memorable.

3.  Be real
A lot of adoptive families shy away from talking much about their lives or showing too many pictures. Birth families don't want to see perfection; they want to see sincerity. The birth mothers I work with have an uncanny way of spotting anything fake. More than a large home, extravagant vacations, or a certain kind of "ideal family," birth mothers are looking for a family that will unconditionally love their child and be honest with them. Use your voice to tell your story. Talk about your dreams, your hopes for your family, and your thoughts on adoption.

4.  Take the time
Since this is the most important part of the matching process with a birth family, choose the pictures, words, and layout you want to use carefully. The goal of a good profile is that it stands out to a birth family and represents your family's personality well. Your profile needs to include both portrait quality pictures as well as candid shots and pictures of real life (times with family, doing things you love, etc). Taking the time to make it "just right" will be worth your time and energy.

In the end, creating a family profile that communicates your heart for adoption, the personality of your family, and your dreams for the future is worth it. It gives a birth family critical information they need to make a huge decision. It allows you to make a good match with a birth family that has chosen you based on all of the information they need.

And it's the start of a beautiful new part of your family's story.

Want to hear more about my family profile creation services?  Contact me.

Want more adoption [mini] tutorials? Click here for more resources!

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