You probably discovered that long before you began writing your adoption profile. But now that you’ve finished and had a chance to look it over, you’re probably feeling a lot less perfect than when you started it.
Not to worry: it’s all part of the process. Open adoption wouldn’t be open adoption unless it was difficult. And writing a parent profile is one of the most difficult parts of the entire process.
So give yourself a break. After all, how many adoption profiles have you written in your lifetime? When it comes to creating a letter for a prospective birthmother, everyone makes mistakes. On that note, here are some of the more common ones you should look out for, along with tips how how to fix them.
Using superlatives and absolutes
One of the aims of your adoption or parent profile is to show yourself in the best light possible. But don’t get too carried away and load up your letter with lots of superlatives and absolutes.
The problem with superlatives and absolutes is that they’re meaningless. They don’t say anything about you. Instead, they rob you of your individuality and uniqueness and make you sound one-dimensional and generic.
Plus, for someone who knows nothing about you, they’re hard to swallow. You–or your partner– may be the “nicest” “sweetest” or “friendliest” person on the planet. And who are prospective birthmothers to doubt it? The thing is, they do and they will.
So if you really want prospective birthmothers to know how kind or sweet you are, find a more honest and authentic way to convey that information. Give concrete examples of your acts of kindness or sweetness and let them judge for themselves.
Generalizations are a bit like superlatives and absolutes, except they’re more common and easier to sneak into your letter. But once again, their effect is limited. Compare: “Rob is a great athlete” with “Rob plays all kinds of sports, from house league baseball in the summer to snowboarding in the winter, and for the last three months he’s been training every day for his first-ever triathlon.”
In the first sentence, you could be talking about anyone. But in the second one, you get a really good sense of who Dave is and how serious he is about his sports. Whenever possible, show rather than tell. And use specifics. The details make the difference.
Your partner may be your “rock” and “your best friend.” But if you want to mention that in your letter, try to find a more original or descriptive way to do it. After all, just about every hopeful adoptive parents describes his or her partner in those terms.
One simple way to drive the idea home is to give an example. For instance, talk about the time in your life when you were facing a crisis and how your partner stepped up to the plate and stood by your side, providing guidance and support. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, describe one of the ways that your partner brings joy to your life.
But don’t stop there. In addition to talking about what he or she did, describe how it made you feel–what it meant to you. Again, avoid sweeping generalizations. Instead, share a story that will give insight into you or your partner’s character and the way that you interact.
Padding your copy
How long should your profile be? When it comes to the total number of words, there’s no magic number. Ideally, your profile should be as long as it needs to be. If you run out of things to say when you’ve reached 1,000 words, stop there. Don’t struggle to churn out 500 extra ones just for the sake of it.
Padding your copy with unnecessary words didn’t work in your high school English essay and it won’t work in your parent profile, either. Better to come up with 1,000 really good words than 1,500 lackluster ones. Start strong and keep going until you get to the end.
Including irrelevant information
Your parent profile is a portrait of your life. But it’s a very specialized type of portrait. Not everything needs to go into it. So avoid the temptation to cram stuff that doesn’t belong. Pick and choose what you think are the most important details and don’t worry about the rest. What you leave out of your letter is often just as important as what you put in it.
Remember your goal: to give a prospective birthmother a taste of your life, not cover every aspect of it. So, while you’re writing, put yourself in her shoes. If you were facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption for your baby, what would you want to know? Would you be interested in the details of the adoptive parents’ wedding or in their thoughts about how they would raise your child?
When it comes to writing your parent profile, it’s easy to make mistakes. By following these tips, hopefully you’ll not only avoid these classic errors. You could also increase your chances of being chosen by the birthmother who is looking for you.