Are you thinking about adopting, and you need to create an adoption profile? Your profile is really the only way you can introduce yourselves to an expectant parent considering adoption. Since you can’t be in the room with her telling her all about yourselves; your profile needs to do it for you. Your profile will contain three basic elements- your text, a collection of photos and a basic layout using colors and graphic elements to share a bit of your style with an expectant parent.
Before you write a single word or begin sorting through your photos have a brainstorming session with your spouse and talk about what the 5 or 6 really key elements are that you want to share with an expectant parent reading your letter. Have fun with this part! It’s not every day we are offered the opportunity to think about our family story and all that encompasses. What do you value as a couple and as individuals? What are you passionate about? What do you long for? What are the fundamental routines that guide you in life? Who do you love and how do you spend time together? What pays the bills for you, and is it a passion or just how you spend your 9-5? What do you adore about your spouse and what do they do that makes you laugh? And finally, how do you imagine your spouse will be as a parent? Everyone, and I mean everyone, approaches the profile believing they are the most ordinary folks on earth… and everyone is wrong. You ARE unique and you do have a unique story to tell!
To lessen the anxiety surrounding writing the text of your profile book (also known as the “dear birthmother letter”) try to think about writing a letter to a friend you’ve never met. Be warm and friendly. Try to write in a conversational style as if you were dashing of a quick letter to a friend. Be chatty and funny if that’s your style- don’t be afraid of humor! To help organize your letter, create 6-8 headings that feel natural to you and then fill in a couple of paragraphs about each. Typical headings include “Hello and Welcome!”, “About Us,” “Meet us Individually,” “Where we Live,” “The People we Love,” and then maybe “Our Work,” “Travel,” “Hobbies and Activities” and perhaps “Our Promises to You.” Remember the key focus points you came up with in your brainstorming session? Let those be your guides as you write. Remember your profile is an introduction. It’s not meant to include every detail of your lives. Keep it short, but warm and friendly. Use stories, rather than details to make your text come alive.
Your photos are amazing storytellers! When a potential birth parent looks at a profile the photos will be the first thing that captures her eye. Make sure your photos highlight those key areas you identified in your brainstorming. Most people find they need to take photos to get just the right set, so don’t be afraid to carry a camera (not your phones!) with you for a few weeks to really capture the range of activities you participate in and the people you spend time with. Try to capture a mix of photos of you as a couple and as individuals. If you have a child already remember at least 50% of your photos should be of you without your child- a hard task for sure but important. Double check your photos and text several times- are the key activities, people and ideals mentioned in your text also represented in your photos and vice-versa? This is a really critical step, so don’t rush this one. The extra time spent on photos will pay off in the long run.
Pay close attention to your agency guidelines for the format of your profile book. Most will encourage you to use color, typography and design elements to make your profile book more interesting. Be cautious, however, that visually these elements do not overwhelm your photos. Glancing at the page it should be the photos that catch your eye, not buttons, frames or scrapbook elements. Make sure your profile layout is easy to ready, the photos are sufficiently large to share facial expressions and the graphic elements enhance rather than detract from your photos.
Lastly, enjoy the process! Try to let go of the rush to complete your profile and instead focus on the profile being the very real beginning of your new family. Enjoy this time defining your values as a couple and dreaming about the family you are creating. You will look back on this profile for years and years to come, as will your child’s birthparents, so give the project the time and space it deserves. You have a story to tell, so enjoy telling it!
By Joanna Ivey, owner Our Chosen Child, Adoption Profile Design
I founded Our Chosen Child in 2008 to assist hopeful adoptive parents in the process of creating their outreach materials including profiles, websites and pass-out cards. Our philosophy is simple. Every client has a story to tell, and for every client there is one special birthparent that will be drawn to their story. We help clients understand themselves – baggage and all- in a way that is positive, honest and uplifting and then we work together to tell their story in a way that resonates with birthparents. Our best work lies at the intersection of psychology and graphic design. Each profile is a unique expression of a unique couple- no two are a like! Visit our website to see samples and learn more: www.ourchosenchild.com