So what makes a profile work? I gathered anecdotal research from first parents and adoption counselors. While each first parent comes with a viewpoint as unique as a fingerprint, here are some commonalities I found in what attracts and what doesn’t in a profile.
Here are some do-it-yourself tips:
- Accurately represent yourselves and avoid playing to your audience. One expectant mother might love dogs while another might be allergic. One might want the baby to be the couple’s first, while another might want ready siblings. To bring about the best match simply be truthful about who you are and what your lives are about.
- Show what makes you unique. Have a horse? Show it. Bilingual? Write a few words in another language. You want to differentiate yourselves from the others in the stack. “The mother I chose proposed to her husband at an NFL football game on the big scoreboard,” says first mother Jessica. “I liked her spirit!”
- Find balance. Describe your life as full enough that you are not dependent on a baby to make it complete, yet not so full that you have no room for a child. Gwen reveals, “Both people had high-powered jobs and were involved in so many things that I just couldn’t see how they’d fit in another responsibility.”
- Inject humor. Include an amusing anecdote or funny photo that shows that humor is one way you deal with life. “They had a picture of the whole family wearing 3-D glasses and watching fireworks, “recounts first mother Kelly. “This family had a good time just being around each other.”
- Remove all hints of desperation. It’s as much a repellent to an expectant mother as it was to a potential spouse. If you can’t come by this honestly, you need more counseling before you embark on adoption. “I didn’t want my baby to be the one thing that saved these people from a life of misery,” explains Sarah, so I passed on them.”
- Choose an agency based on your expectations for future contact. For example, if you state you want very little or no contact, you may be in for a long wait if your agency is known for open adoptions. “We went to an open adoption agency because we wanted SOME contact,” say first parents Heather and Jason. “so we rejected a couple who wanted us to disappear after the birth.”
- Be brutally honest with yourselves about your profile. Or better yet, have a trusted friend – someone less vested in the outcome – look over your masterpiece. Ask this person to be candid about the photos, letters and tone. Maybe you can’t see that Aunt Tillie looks awful in that family photo, but you need to know. “In one picture of a family picnic, they all had red eye,” explains first mother Gwen. “I know it wasn’t real, but my impression was ‘how demonic!’”
- Tinker. Tweaking just a word or an image can dramatically change results. If you’ve been waiting a while, make a minor change, like the stationery or the lead photo. “If your agency is having activity but your profile isn’t garnering interest, a semi-annual review with minor changes might help,” suggests Karen Bettis, Adoption Counselor at Lutheran Family Services.
For tips on what NOT to do, see The Terrible Toos: 7 Common Mistakes in Adoption Profiles.