New Year’s resolutions are a dime a dozen, but they sure are tons of fun: Easy to make, and easy to break, especially if you’re a prospective adoptive parent hoping to adopt a baby through open adoption.
The problem is that most adopting parents focus on a general goal (“this year I want to adopt a baby”) rather than on the specific action they need to take in order to accomplish it (“since one of the ways to reach my objective is to connect with prospective birthparents through my adoption profile, I’m going to make sure that my profile paints a clear and honest portrait of who I am and the type of parent I would be by including relevant information and photos about me”).
With that in mind, here are 12 specific resolutions you can make — and hopefully stick to — each month this year to help you achieve your goal to adopt a baby.
Join a support group. Adoption can be a long and lonely journey. Connecting with others who have “been there and done that” or who are trying to “be there and do that” can take some of the weight off your shoulders by providing you with advice, support and feedback about possible situations. Other people may not get what you’re going through. But you can be sure that the waiting parents or adoptive parents you meet through a local or national adoption support group will and that they’ll be only happy to help.
Explore other agencies. It’s been over a year since you’ve been on your agency’s “active list” and you still haven’t had any activity. No leads at all. When you call your adoption worker, either she doesn’t call you back or she tells you to relax and be patient. What do you think — maybe it’s time to broaden your networking strategy and look for another agency. To make sure that the new one is the right fit, check out their website, attend an information session, speak directly to their professionals and get feedback from their clients. Ask questions such as: how much are their upfront fees? What kind of marketing and advertising do they do? How much pre- and post-adoption counseling do they offer adoptive parents and birth parents? It’s tempting to focus solely on the here and now, on finding a match. But adoption isn’t a one-time event. The guidance and support they provide after your baby is placed with you is equally, if not, more important.
Re-write your adoption profile letter. Next to work of mouth, your adoption profile letter is the most important networking tool you have. Does yours say everything you want it to say? Maybe you know something now that you weren’t aware of when you initially sat down to write it. Or maybe there’s better way to express yourself when it comes to talking about your interests, your family or your hopes and dreams for the future. If you find yourself itching to take another stab at it, go ahead and do it. It will help you pass the time and hopefully make your letter even stronger and more appealing to prospective birthparents.
Launch a social media strategy. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all great places to post your profile and spread the word about your dream to adopt a baby. Best of all, they’re easy to set up and free of charge. I can’t tell you how many of our clients have found a match this way. So if you don’t have an adoption-dedicated account on one of the main social networks, create one now. If you don’t, you could be missing out on some exciting opportunities.
Read birthmother blogs. What are expectant mothers considering adoption looking for when it comes to adoptive parents? What makes prospective birthparents choose one set of adopting parents over another? How does a woman with an unexpected pregnancy go about looking for parents for her baby? These are questions that many hopeful adoptive parents ask themselves as they begin the networking process. One place to find the answer is to go straight to the source: to birthmothers themselves. But if you don’t know any birthmothers personally, reading their stories on their blogs is the next best thing.
Join discussion forums. Got a burning question about a possible birthmother match? Not sure how to handle a difficult situation in another state? Need to get up to speed about birthfather rights? Your adoption professionals can help you sort out your questions and find solutions. But while you’re waiting to hear back from them or if you’re interested in hearing how others have dealt with these issues, you can always post your question on a discussion forum. Unlike your professionals, they’re easily accessible and open 24/7. And, if you’re careful and mindful about running the advice by your professional before acting on it, they can be more than just a great way to get answers. They can also help you connect and share with like-minded people who know where you’ve been and where you want to go.
Create an advertising campaign. Posting your profile online will give you a presence and an platform to get the word out about your plans to adopt a baby. But it’s only the beginning. You still need to find a way to build traffic and get prospective birthparents to notice you. If you’re looking to leverage your website, pay-per-click advertising can help you do that quickly and effectively. While Google Adwords can help you targeting specific users based on the keywords they use, Facebook ads can help you find them by location, age, gender and interests. It’s not cheap so make sure you test it out first so that you don’t blow your budget in one shot.
Reassess your photos. Your adoption letter is the most important part of your profile, right? Wrong! That honor goes to your adoption photos. After all, they’re the first things that prospective birthparents will see when they view it. What kind of impression do yours make? Do they capture you in the best light possible? Do they show different sides of you and your lifestyle? Are they fun and child-friendly? Do they make you look warm and approachable? Oh, and are they cropped properly? If you’re not sure, replace them with something else, or go out and take some new ones. With today’s technology, changing your photos is easy to do and could be the difference about whether you get chosen or not.
Retool your website. Your website is your online introduction to expectant parents considering adoption for their baby. It’s your calling card and when it comes to getting pick by prospective birthparents, it could be the game-changer. What does your site say about you? Is it eye-catching? Easy to navigate? Well organized? Contain information that’s useful and relevant and have amazing photos that show you at your best? And finally, is it easy to find? If your website lacks impact and doesn’t make a statement about you and what you have to offer a baby, think about changing it so that it does.
Start a blog. Your life isn’t static. It goes on every day, and every day there’s something new to discover and talk about. So why not share it through a blog? Thanks to platforms like Tumblr and WordPress, creating and keeping a blog has never been easier. Keeping an online journal is a wonderful way to share updates about your life and your adoption journey with prospective birthparents as well as a tried-and-true way to reach out to and connect with other members in the adoption community.
Prepare for the baby. Adoption matches can happen anywhere any time. Are you ready? Now that you’ve got the time, start preparing yourself for your baby’s arrival as much as you can. Becoming a parent may be just a thought at this particular moment in time. But once that call comes in, you’ll be so excited — and busy! — you won’t have time to think about anything. So it’s never too early to get yourself and your home ready for that moment when your baby will be placed in your arms. Start looking into pediatricians, explore local parenting groups and, if you find it helps you stay positive and focused, get the nursery ready. You don’t have to go all out, maybe just pick up essentials like diapers and wipes, enough to give yourself a head start and stay sane.
Read adoption books. Each adoption situation is different, and some are trickier than others. By reading adoption books, you can get a better idea about what to expect and how to deal with a situation when it finally arrives. Learning about other people’s experiences can also help you get a firmer handle on the different levels of openness and contact that are available in open adoption and give you a better idea about what your relationship with your child and his birthparents could look like in the future.
So, there you go, a month-by-month breakdown of the actions you can take this year to help you adopt a baby. Feel free to mix and match. You don’t have to do them all and you don’t have to do them in order. The important thing is to do something — every month, and ideally, every day or week. Good luck — I’ll be checking up on you throughout the year!
What’s on your list of New Year’s resolutions? What adoption-related goals do you hope to accomplish this year? Share your comments in the space below.