Connecting to a Birth Family Through Your Profile Letter
HELPS FOR THE FIRST TIME ADOPTIVE COUPLE
You just got home from your first meeting with your adoption caseworker. Your mind is full of the list of things you need to accomplish in order to get approved to adopt a child. One item on the list is writing a letter to prospective birth parents. This letter will be used by your caseworker and/or agency to help potential birth parents choose a family for their baby. You feel a heavy weight and wonder – What do we say? You decide to start on the letter that night. After sitting at the computer for a while writing and deleting sentences, you sit back and wonder -How do I connect with someone I have never met?If you can relate to this type of scenario you are not alone. Getting your “profile” ready to be shown to potential birth parents is not an easy task. You are afraid of saying the wrong thing. You are afraid you are not enough. You are afraid you will never be the “right” couple. The awesome truth is you don’t have to be the “right” couple…..you just have to be a “real” couple. Be real, be you and you will be that “right” one for someone. As my husband, Brad, and I adopted our four children, we have written more letters than I could ever count. After our first child was placed with us and we developed a relationship with our child’s birth mother we gained a new perspective about writing a birth parent letter. Today I would like to share with you the things we learned in hopes of helping you today as you work to start your family.
BeYourself! The birth family that will choose you will do it because there will be something about YOU which “clicks” with them. It might be a simple fact you share about yourself or it might be the feeling they get when they read about you. I know of one couple was chosen after the potential birth mother saw their picture and thought they just looked like nice people. You will never know what might touch a heart. Share pieces of your life and be yourself in every bit of your letter and profile. You are enough and you are “right” just the way you are!
Be Honest. Don’t make promises you may not be able to keep. It is ok to share you are open to contact but don’t go into detail on what you think you want. It might feel a little overwhelming to your reader or it might feel like not enough. Once you have been chosen and have opportunities to meet the birth mother or birth family you both will be able to come to a mutual plan or understanding.
Show compassion. Think about a hard time in your life. Use the grief you have felt in the past to help you show love, compassion, and friendship as you write your letter. You won’t know what they feel but you do know what it feels like to have a hard time. Use your experiences to help relate to them. Validate what they are going through.
Paint a picture. A picture says a thousand words, but we aren’t painting a picture…..or are we? When potential birth families read your letter you want them to be able to see in their minds eye what you are like. Rather than stating you love to read, share when and where you enjoy reading most. If you cuddle up in a blanket on your couch late at night then share that with them. If you love to read in the summer on a blanket at a park feeling the sun touch your skin then paint it out for your reader with words. Allow your reader to be able to close their eyes and see you living your life. Using descriptive words to help the reader know where, when, why, how, smells, sounds, and feelings you experience in the pieces of your life you are sharing with them, allows them to feel like they are coming to know you a little bit. It allows them to connect with you.
Why children? Sometimes as we write our letters we become so focused on making us sound like we are the perfect people we forget to show what is missing in our lives. We are reaching out hoping this reader will choose us for their baby but are we showing our reader we are longing for a child? Are we letting them know why we want a child? Are we showing them with our words we are anxious to be parents? As you write your letter allow your feelings for children to come through. Your reader wants to get an idea of the type of parent you will be. You shouldn’t write long paragraphs on this topic but it is a great piece to include. It is also ok to mention your infertility struggle but don’t go into detail about it.
Editing. Ask family members to read over your letter. Does it make sense? Does it flow? The letter doesn’t need to be perfect but you want basic spelling corrected and you want to make sure your letter gives the reader an idea of who you are. Asking family members or close friends to read over your letter gives you some feedback which might be helpful before you make your final print or before you publish it online.
Creating a pleasing package. If you are printing your letter be sure to choose paper which reflects your personality. Ask yourself – Is pleasing to the eye? Whether you are publishing online or printing on paper use a clear font. It can still be a fun font but be sure it is easy to read. Add your personalities on your profile online where you can use graphics that suit you and images of you and your spouse that catch the eye. If you are printing your profile make it memorable.Sometimes viewing examples of what others have done is helpful. Don’t be afraid to browse online profiles to get an idea of what formats to use. Just be sure to make your letter and profile your own. Don’t use another persons wording because it sounds good….you want your letter to show your personality. Don’t be afraid to be different!