Everyone knows that first impressions are important. For a family hoping to adopt, their chance to make a good first impression with a birth mother comes when they create their profile.
An adoptive family profile is a collection of biographic information about a particular family, which birth mothers look at to help them choose a family for their baby. Most families try to spice up their profile by adding photos and funny stories.
What has happened in the adoption world, though, is a sort of profile arms-race: families feel they have to go to greater and greater lengths to make their profile stand out.
Having a nice-looking profile is good, but some businesses are starting to exploit these families’ fears that they won’t be chosen unless their profile looks perfect. For example, here’s a page that comes up when searching for “making an adoption profile”:
You do not need to spend $1000 on your profile! You can design your profile yourself for free.
Even if you choose to have it professionally printed it should still cost less than $75 for 50 copies.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Many adoption agencies and services can provide you with a template for your profile. If they don’t or if you want to make something different, there are lots of free photo album and scrapbook templates available online.
Not good with computers? Don’t own any graphic design software? That’s fine! You can make your profile like you would a scrapbook.
Because copies of your booklet will be made, be careful to make the pages the size of letter paper (8.5 in. x 11 in.) and avoid thick textures.
When you are done, scan the pages in or mail the whole thing to your adoption service. If you scan it in yourself, make sure you set the scanner to at least 300 dpi so the printed copies look as good as the original.
Don’t write a dissertation. Eight pages (that is, four sheets of paper printed front and back) is plenty of space to tell a birth mother about yourselves and include a few photos.
Too much information can be overwhelming. Keep in mind that the birth mother will be looking at five to ten profiles at a time: if your profile is too long she may just skip it entirely.
Having a few pictures of your family is a great way to make a connection with a birth mom. Try to communicate a sense of your family dynamic. You might put in a few family vacation photos or pictures from holiday gatherings. Or maybe one of everyone goofing off. Highlight all the members of your household, including pets.
Make sure your photos are explained somehow: add captions or short blurbs about how these photos represent your family.
Don’t make it a full-blown photo album, though. The pictures you include should be just enough to help the birth parent imagine what their child’s life would be like as part of your family. Too much and you risk the images running together.
Tell the birth mother about the life and experiences you want to give her child. If you’ve already started a college fund, don’t be afraid to mention it.
Be tactful, of course: don’t flaunt wealth or be pretentious. Instead, focus on the baby and what you want for him or her.
Many birth parents worry that their baby will feel disconnected or won’t have any roots. Share with them the values and the culture that you want to pass on.
At this stage in the adoption process, it’s always better to communicate through an intermediary. Don’t list your full names, phone numbers, or email addresses. Most adoption services will remove this kind of information from your profile before sending it out to birth mothers.
It’s also important to avoid being too specific about where you live because it may be possible to narrow down who you are using that information. It’s okay to mention the name of your community if it is fairly large (for example, “a suburb of Tulsa, OK”) but not if there aren’t many other people (such as, Bokchito, OK, population 655).
While a birth mother will usually still look at printed profiles, sometimes there isn’t enough time to mail them to her. In those cases, profiles are usually emailed. An original pdf or doc will look better and be easier to read than a scanned image of a printed copy.
Further, this allows your adoption service to print out high quality copies as needed, rather than making lower-quality photocopies.
While it isn’t necessary, you may want to have your profile professionally printed. This will cost you a bit more, but shouldn’t break the bank. Many local office stores offer printing services or you can order prints online.
If you do choose to have your booklet professionally printed, don’t get a hard cover or unusual dimensions. These are more difficult to store and mail, and may result in additional fees from your adoption service. And don’t forget to include a digital copy, as noted above.
We do not recommend that you use design your booklet using services like Snapfish or Shutterfly since they won’t give you a digital copy of your book and lock you into getting big, thick books which cost upwards of $15 each. An adoption service will want at least twenty copies of your profile booklet since they won’t ask birth mothers to send them back, so these kinds of photo books aren’t a very cost effective option.
Making a family profile should be fun. This is your chance to say a bit about who you are and what’s important in your life. Fuss with the details, but don’t fret: what will make your profile appeal to a birth mom is the glimpse it gives her into your family, not the technical skill with which it was crafted.