When you’re pursuing private domestic adoption, one of the most important documents you are going to make is your adoption profile. It’s a small book that introduces you to an expecting mother. This is the very first impression they will have of you. No pressure! It can feel absolutely overwhelming. I spent at least a month working on ours, if not longer, adding things and removing others. I hope I can help you while you set out to write yours!
I used Blurb.ca‘s desktop publishing software, BookWright, to create ours, but there are many programs available you can use. Blurb allows you to buy the PDF file for five dollars, so we can have it printed as often as we need. We took the file to a copy place and picked out the paper, binding and cover and had it printed within a half hour while we waited. We picked a sturdy, glossy paper, spiral binding, and a clear cover. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture! We also bought a hard cover copy to keep our book on file. When we are placed with a child we plan on giving a hard cover copy to the birth family and put one away for our child.
Agencies and licensees have different guidelines about size, length, what to include (or not) and the way it is constructed, so it’s important you find out before you start. The following are sections we included in our book, yours may look different!
- About Us – How you both met, your relationship, how you like to spend your time together
- A page about each of you (and your children if you have any) – your occupations, personality, hobbies and likes
- A brief page about any pets you have – hey they’re a part of your family too!
- Your home/neighbourhood – Urban? Suburban? Rural? Are you near schools and fun activities for children?
- Your family/support system – These are the people who will be in their child’s life. Share briefly about your families, and their excitement and support for you adopting.
- Holidays and traditions – This is optional but was something I included because celebrating together and hosting family is a large part of our lives. Do you have any special family traditions? Do you all get up and do the chicken dance every Christmas?
- Values and Beliefs – talk about the values important to you, and about your religion, if you practice. We are non-religious and focused on how we celebrate most traditional holidays and want to educate their child about cultures and beliefs around the world
- Adoption and Openness – this is where you talk about what relationship you would hope to have with them, how you might picture openness, how you feel about adoption and possible plans for talking about adoption with their child
- Thank you (Conclusion) – thank the person for reading your book (yours could have been one of many!) and share how you would love to meet
As long as your agency allows, you should feel free to get creative with your design. This is another chance to really show who you are! Just make sure any embellishments don’t take away from your pictures and writing that you’ve worked so hard on.
It is nerve-wracking when your licensee takes your profile to go over it to see if anything needs changing. I held my breath thinking that over a month’s worth of work might have to be changed, but prepared for the possibility. The following Do’s and Don’ts are gathered from the guidelines we were given, researching and lessons learned while creating our own profile. I hope it helps you in creating yours!
- Use lots of pictures! Make sure they are clear, in focus, and close up enough that you can see everyone’s face. Use recent pictures (I’ve seen it recommended that they are within the last 5 years), where everyone is smiling. Try to avoid ones with sunglasses as they obscure the face. Include brief captions. If you are married, check with your agency if a wedding picture is okay to include (ours did, but was advised some don’t).
- Show, more than tell. Use your pictures to tell your story. Many licensees will have guidelines has to how many pages your profile should be.
- Use a large, easily readable font, at least 12 or 14 pt. Avoid small print and backgrounds that make the font hard to read.
- Make it personal. Give a peek into what your lives look like. You want the expectant mother or couple to get an idea of what life with you will really look like for their child.
- Proofread. Then have someone else proofread. Then proofread it again. Mistakes happen! I caught a mistake with two pictures having mixed up captions that had escaped both of us, luckily right before I had printed
- Share the rough draft. Have a trusted (and honest) friend or family member read it over to see if they feel it really reflects you
- Use “Dear Birth mother”. The person reading your book is not a birth mother yet, she is an expectant mother considering an adoption plan. It may also be read by an expectant father.
- Use “my” or “our” child. For the same reason you shouldn’t use birth mother. Use “your child” instead.
- Try to be everything to everyone. If you strip everything away that makes you you, your profile can quickly appear cookie cutter. Don’t be afraid to stand out. What you may be afraid is a turn off could be what resonates with an expectant mother.
- Focus too much on your infertility. If you have experienced infertility you can touch on it briefly but try to keep it positive, focus more on your future moving forward
- Make promises you can’t keep.
- Include pictures with alcohol. Even if its you with a glass of champagne at your wedding. Most licensees will have you remove them.
- Get overwhelmed to the point you procrastinate. I really wish we had started sooner, as we could have signed with our licensees quicker once our homestudy was approved. Think of how you picture life with a child looking like and let your true selves shine through your profile. You can do this!