adoption profiles

Adoption Profiles: What Adoptive Parents Want You to Know

Adoption Profiles can seem overwhelming. There can be so much at stake and the idea that the wrong picture or wrong wording can get it wrong just feels like too much. What should you include? What should you leave out? Are professional photographs important? Can you make a profile online or does it have to be a physical file? It can be both, actually. Adoption is a beautiful thing and it can be so hopeful and optimistic. Hallmark movies, Lifetime specials, adoption blogs and the like can make it seem easy and instantaneous. Stories you hear in the grocery store or from Facebook can make it seem like there is little to no effort to adopt. Then you go to an adoption information meeting and hear about adoption profiles and everything you had in your head falls to pieces. Don’t worry though. Adoption profiles can be just one part of the puzzle that makes up the whole of the adopted family, even if at times it can feel like the whole thing. 

If you visit Adoption.org’s family photolistings you can scroll through hundreds of photo listings of families hoping to adopt. If you are anything like me you look at those pictures that have perfectly posed, exquisitely coiffed hopeful Mamas and Daddys smiling broadly at the camera and you figure you’re out of the race before you started. I know from experience it felt like I would never measure up to the picture-perfect faces I saw looking back at me. I’m here to tell you that those pictures usually only tell a small piece of the story and are only a part of the adoption profile.

The expectant parents browsing through piles and piles and lists and lists of profiles usually aren’t looking for perfect people. They are looking for a potential family for their baby. What they probably want to know is “who are you and why would you be a good choice for our family?” I do not recommend ever lying about who you are, what you enjoy doing, or about things you like to experience to try to impress expectant parents. It is usually disrespectful, dishonest, and can ultimately make you look bad. Do make sure you are telling with honesty and clarity who you and your family are. You could explain why you want to adopt. Are you infertile and fertility treatments didn’t work? That may feel overly personal, but what you’re doing tends to be a very personal thing. Is your Dad adopted and adoption has always been part of your life plan? Why is adoption important to you? You could make sure to include that in your adoption profile. You could describe how you love watching Lord of The Rings with Elvish subtitles, going rock climbing, or binge-watching terrible Netflix. Tell how you love to read bedtime stories to your kids, or how much you are looking forward to that. Yes, have good pictures taken, but you could also have some silly ones too if you’re a silly family. Some people may overlook you for that, and believe it or not that may be a good thing. You probably want your adoptive child’s birth family to be comfortable with you, and you can probably only fake so much for so long before it all falls apart. 

One idea is don’t try and get the perfect picture that looks just like everyone else’s, but instead try and get the perfect picture of who your family is. Our adoption profile had pictures of us with our other adopted kids having fun. It discussed our hobbies, our passions, and our faith. And while we weren’t selected by a birth family, we were selected by a caseworker but the idea is the same. Do you have pets? You could include them. Your dog may look just like the expectant parent’s favorite dog growing up. I remember being told in our adoption class that once a birth mom saw a couch in the background of a picture that was just like the one her grandmother had. That cinched the deal for her. Another mom explained how the birth mom of her adopted son said she looked like a friend she had growing up. Or the house looks like one that would be all decorated for Christmas and that feels “right”. You never know what details you include that could whisper to the birth mom’s heart that “They’re the ones”. I’d suggest to include what feels important to you. You could include things that you really want birth parents to be aware of when they are trying to make a very important decision. Are you someone they would like to be around? That can be important. You’re likely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. For example, you might love cats and that might put you out of the running for some people. Guess what? That can be a good thing. If I have learned anything from my own adoption journey, it is that the kids who are supposed to be yours often get there eventually. This may be the part of the journey that you have some control of, but it is likely only one of the few that you really get to control. 

As an adoptive mom on the side of having been matched with my kids, I can say with a degree of authority you likely have no idea what you are getting into. You may be a very Type A person who needs to control everything. I’m going to ask you gently to let go. Yes, do your best to represent yourself and your family in your profile. Bullet point, edit, be tidy, neat, and beautiful to your heart’s content with this thing. Then let it go. Even if your profile is the most perfect, beautiful, creative thing that a birth parent has ever seen, you just may not resonate with them. You’re not wrong for wanting every i to be dotted and t to be crossed. You may be detail-oriented and the mom everyone wants to be. However, you may not be the right match for a birth mom who is not the same way you are. You likely cannot control this. I know you may not want to hear that. I know it may feel like if you get everything exactly right, your baby will come right to you immediately. In the adoption world that is almost never the case, however much we may want it to be. 

You may be the opposite. You may struggle to complete an entire load of laundry because a painting mood struck you. Instead of folding laundry, you painted a mural on the bedroom wall and then shared it on your adoption profile. It may be the most exquisite art in the modern age and you might get passed over because you misspelled a word. You likely won’t please everybody. Yes, try your best. Get Santa hats for your dogs and beg your husband to please please smile for this picture. You probably aren’t going to miss out on a baby because you are a little disorganized. Speaking as a mom of five who has a combined diagnosis of ADHD, anxiety disorder, and depression (and, incidentally, whose children all have similar diagnoses), you getting chosen or not chosen probably does not rest on you doing impossible tasks. Obviously you will probably need to figure out how to get that laundry done, how to keep things clean, and how to prioritize. However if a birth mom chooses you, you may be the right mom for that baby, and if she doesn’t, you may not have been the right mom for that baby.

Do not compare yourself to everyone else. This is often easier said than done. You could spend a few hours looking over adoption profiles at Adoption.com and see what details are consistently given or required. You could take note of what makes a profile look “good” to your eyes. Another option is to go to your adoption agency office and ask to look at examples of “successful” profiles (ones where adoptions were completed) and take notes. This can be one place where if you are a “just wing it” kind of lady you probably should not just wing. Furthermore if you are someone who is good with words, but struggles with editing, spelling,  run-on sentences (guilty), or anything else, you could have a friend or coworker who is excellent at corrections help you out. However you probably do not want to make your profile look like everyone else’s; instead, you may want yours to stand out. Well, you probably want it to stand out in a good way. Not a “wow this is a disaster and I’m not sure why this person thinks they can parent a child” kind of way. This can be an expectant parent’s first (and potentially last) impression of you so make it count. 

Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Yes, it can be important to be humble and not try to make others look bad. That’s not what I’m talking about. If you are very good at something noteworthy, you can let your light shine. Have you won coaching awards, were you teacher of the year, did you win 1st place baker at the county fair? Don’t be afraid to flex your talents. You don’t have to be an award-winning author to have something worth mentioning that may end up being important to an expectant parent. 

Are you a gamer? You can write that in your adoption profile. Do you really love horses and go riding every day? You can write that. Are you obsessed with Hello Kitty? You can share that, just be yourself. Is Doctor Who your whole world? Let that nerd flag fly my friend (bowties are cool). I cannot stress enough how being relatable to an expectant family can be how you will end up being selected. These things may make some people put you in the “no” pile. They are probably not your people. I know I’ve said it before, but hear me on this. You being you should attract your family to you, not repel them away. I know that is often easier to say than to hear. Especially if maybe you have been rejected in the past by people because of the things you love. If you’re not comfortable sharing the things you love with others, be aware that expectant parents may ask you a lot of personal questions. It can feel overwhelming or a bit invasive, and you may think that there is a possibility that adopting a child isn’t a good choice. You could talk with others and see how they dealt with it all. 

I share my whole life with my kids. There is not a crafting supply that I do not inevitably end up having to share with them. All of my kids are obsessed with Star Wars, biking, animals, and art. I don’t force these things on them, but they are a big part of my life that I enjoy so I share it all with them. We found out much after the adoptions that three of our kid’s birth families are also filled with nerds. They are so happy that we share this piece of our life with our kids. They have remarked that they are so glad the kids have us. So while in our situation with them (foster care to adoption) our profile had very little to do with their placement, it has helped extended birth family to know their kids are in good hands. 

Sweat the big deal stuff, not the small deal stuff. If your favorite color is red I guess you can mention it if you want. However, it may be more important to share about how you live your life and your goals for the future rather than to list trivia facts about yourself and your family. Another thing to think about could be to make sure you actually have everything ready so that if you are chosen things can move swiftly and smoothly. By that I mean, is your home safe and ready for a baby, not rushing to buy things to redecorate a nursery. You could check and see if your paperwork in order, if your pet vaccinations up to date. Those typically aren’t things that go in your profile to expectant parents but they are things that can delay placement if they aren’t done correctly. 

For more information, and a guide on how to get started with your adoption profile, visit Adoption.com’s parent profile site. There you will be given a template to help you create and distribute your profile to expectant parents. You can be contacted through the profile, post a video about yourself, your home, and your life, share pictures, important details about yourself and your family, and give a voice to your wants and needs as a potential adoptive family. 

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Christina Gochnauer

Christina Gochnauer is a foster and adoptive mom of 5. She has a bachelor's degree of Psychology from Letourneau University. She currently resides in Texas with husband of 16 years, her children ages 3, 3.5, 4.5, 11, and 12, and her three dogs. She is passionate about using her voice to speak out for children from "hard places" in her church and community.