I’ve shared sample adoptive parent profile letters before.
Today, now that we’re just past the midway point of National Adoption Month and many hopeful adoptive parents (and prospective birthparents) will be discovering adoptive parent profiles for the first time, I thought I dip into the topic again.
But this time, Iet’s focus on the opening of the letter since it’s the most important element of your written profile.
Even before we do that, however, let’s take a look at what an adoptive parent profile is and what it needs to do.
Generally speaking, an adoptive parent profile is a letter that hopeful adoptive parents write to an expectant mother who’s considering adoption in the hopes of making a connection with her that will result in her placing her baby with them.
Many people will tell you it’s the most important networking tool that waiting parents have — the game changer that could determine whether they find a prospective birthmother match now, three years from now, or perhaps not at all.
No big deal, right?
Keep in mind is that there’s no magic formula to writing an adoptive parent profile letter. Each one is different in the same way that each hopeful family is different. But no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, everyone has something to offer.
The key — and challenge — is to determine what that “something” is and to convey it in a way that will resonate with an expectant mother. And not any expectant mother. The one that is looking for you.
And that us brings us back to the beginning of your letter. Of all the sections of your letter, it’s by far the most important one.
After all, if you don’t draw in a prospective birthmother early on and make her want to read more, it doesn’t matter what comes next. She won’t get there.
So what makes a good opening to an adoptive parent profile?
Every expectant mother will answer this question differently, depending on their personality and what they’re looking for in an adoptive family. Some may prefer a soft approach, others may want something that gets to the point right away.
The thing to remember is that most prospective birthmothers will go through a pile of profiles before they make their final decision so it’s a good idea to set yourself apart as quickly as possible.
The sooner you can differentiate yourself, the better chance you have of capturing an expectant mother’s attention and get her to keep reading.
And at this point of the game, that’s the goal of your adoptive parent profile letter: to create a connection with an prospective birthmother and build trust so that she’ll reach out and contact you in the hopes of getting to know you better.
I could go on and on about what I think makes a good opening. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve shared my thoughts about writing and networking an adoptive parent profile before —here, here, here and elsewhere on the blog.
But perhaps a better way to explore the topic is to see how waiting parents have dealt with the issue by looking at their openings and how they’ve managed to set themselves apart and made their letters memorable and meaningful.
The openings below are taken from real adoptive parent profile letters. Some of them are from clients that have posted with us or on our sister site.
Others come from adoptive parent profiles that caught my attention online. To protect the authors’ privacy, I’ve changed their names. However, I’ve left the details intact since they are what resonated with me and, I imagine, will likely resonate with expectant parents too.
1. “We are Simon and Ruth from New York. We like to think of ourselves as loving, intelligent, responsible and funny people and, unless our friends and family have been lying to us, we are not far off the mark.”
Why I like it: Nothing like a bit of humor to get the ball rolling. What stood out for me in this opening was the edginess and the honesty. Simon and Ruth’s in-your-face approach may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but your letter isn’t designed for everyone. By telling it the way it is from the outset, this quirky couple makes a strong first impression and does a great job of setting themselves apart from the rest of the pack.
2. “We met in 2001 at a New Year’s Eve party and, as corny as that sounds, have been in love ever since. We married in 2005, bought a house, got a dog, two cats, and some fish, and started planning for the day we would have children. After almost three years of trying to conceive that day still has not come. So, we are looking to adoption to grow our family.”
Why I like it: It’s only four sentences, but together they really pack a punch. It’s easy to get carried away in your profile letter and come across as sappy and insincere. And many hopeful couples do. This couple, however, avoids that trap by taking a step back from themselves (“as corny as that sounds”) and yet still manage to wear their heart on their sleeve. What’s more, they do a masterful job of painting a picture of their lives and explaining how they got to this point in their relationship and their adoption journey.
3. “Our life is an open book – so jump in and take a good look around. But most importantly, enjoy the ride – because we certainly are. Just remember to keep your hands and feet inside the cart at all times. We are proud and happy in the life we share together and want so much to grow our family. We are excited about our decision to adopt. For us the choice was an easy one, as we both grew up in adopted families. We believe it is a huge honor and privilege to become adoptive parents and we accept our responsibilities to you and your child with the utmost respect and commitment.”
Why I like it: More humor. (See a pattern emerging? By now you should have a pretty good sense of what I would be looking for if I were looking for a couple to adopt my baby). What I like about this opening is the enthusiasm andexcitement in their voices. Even though an adoptive parent profile is hard to write and deals with some sensitive topics, it shouldn’t be a downer. It shouldn’t focus on your infertility struggles or make adoption sound like it’s second best. It needs to be positive and upbeat — and credible, too. This opening is all of that, and more. Not only does it cast adoption in a positive light. By explaining their connection to adoption, this couple gives their words a sense of authority and authenicity that others who don’t have that connection lack.
4. “We are so excited to become parents. When we first started talking about growing a family, the possibility of adoption was something we were always interested in. Growing up, two of Janet’s best and oldest friends, Stacy and Chrissy, were both adopted. They showed her throughout their lives that adoption is a very special way to create a family filled with unconditional love and support.”
Why I like it: This opening contains similar elements as the one above, but it goes one better. In addition to referencing the couple’s adoption connection, it explains — quite well, I think — what adoption means to them in a positive, inspiring way. (“A very special way to create a family filled with unconditional love and support”). For an expectant mother who’s sitting on the fence and may be unsure about whether to go through with her plan or which couple to pick, these words have the power to lift her spirits and give her a boost to move on to the next stage in her plan.
5. “We believe everything happens for a reason. Adoption has always been something we have talked about and been excited for. After trying unsuccessfully to conceive through fertility treatments, we know that we are meant to build our family through adoption.”
Why I like it: Earlier I mentioned how many adoption profile letters make it sound as if adoption is the couple’s second choice — not an effective message if you’re trying to make a connection with a woman who may be wavering with her own decision about whether to go through with her plan. But this couple, I think, does a better job of handling the issue than most. By framing their adoption story in terms of “things happen for a reason” and then describing how adoption has always been part of their discussions, they’ve managed to make adoption sound like it wasn’t a “Plan B” — something to pursue after all of their other attempts to start a family failed — but rather a possibility that was there, in the background, from the very beginning of their relationship.
6. “As parents, we plan to honour and respect your relationship to your child through open discussions, a life-book, and talking about you and your family. We believe it’s important to discuss adoption with a child from an early age and we’re comfortable with whatever level of openness you’d like to have, whether it be exchanging photos, phone calls, emails, or visits.”
Why I like it: So many letters start off the same way, with either the hopeful parents thanking the prospective birthmother for reading their profile or telling her about how hard her decision must be. Empathy is good, but after reading 10 or more such openings, its appeal starts to wear off and frankly gets annoying. You can almost sense an expectant mother’s frustration when she gets to that stage — “Get to your point already. Why should I pick you? What’s different about you and what are you going to do for me?” This couple’s letter wastes no time in making their case about why they should get chosen. Right from the get-go they explain what open adoption means to them and what they have to offer. For any prospective birthmother who may be curious about what her relationship with the adoptive parents could look like, this letter does a good job of supplying some concrete answers early on.
7. We have been together for nearly 15 years and married for 8. We’ve been inseparable since the beginning—our meeting felt like coming home. Our love has only deepened over time, and we’ve learned that we can count on each other no matter what life presents. Through all the years we’ve always known we wanted children and we are very excited to start a family. Having been together for so long means we know how to comfort each other, how to make each other laugh and how to solve problems together.
Why I like it: What do expectant mothers look for in an adoptive couple? This varies from one person to the next. But stability is often somewhere near the top of the list. In other words, they’re looking for a couple that has been around the block a few times. Some couples worry that they’re too old to get chosen. But this couple has turned that liability into an asset by focusing on the longevity of their relationship and their marriage. Instead of seeing it as something to hide, they use it as a way of illustrating what a strong team they are. It’s as if they’re saying to the expectant mother, “Sure, we’re not perfect. But we’ve been through so much together and have overcome so many challenges that there isn’t anything we can’t take on, including parenthood.”
8. For two people who generally would rather talk about anything other than themselves, pouring our collective life and heart on these pages is not a simple task. But the motivation is powerful and the sentiment genuine. We are fortunate – we both come from stable and loving families who have supported us throughout our lives. We found each other, and are the better for it. We clearly did something right to be blessed with our son, who has brought so much to our lives it defies description.
Why I like it: Do you know anyone who enjoys writing an adoption profile? I mean, sincerely enjoys it? I don’t. Most hopeful parents I know will avoid it for as long as they can. This couple, however, addresses the issue right off the top of their letter and does it in an honest and refreshing way. Not only do they give a prospective mother insights into their personality (“For two people who generally woudl rather talk about anything other than themselves…”), they pull back the curtain and provide a window into their feelings about the writing process. That sense of transparency creates trust, and that trust makes you want to read more about them. By the time you get to the end of this paragraph, you understand why they’ve put themselves through the process even though it goes against their nature and is so difficult to do. Furthermore, unlike other couples who may avoid talking about their child for fear of turning off a prospective birthmother because they suspect she’s looking for a childless couple, this one doesn’t hide their joy about being parents or their motivation for expanding their family through adoption.
The beginning of your adoptive parent profile letter is the most important part of it and there are many different ways to do it. Hopefully these eight examples have shown you how to start your letter and given you the inspiration to sit down and write yours today.
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