Each one is handmade, delicate and eye-watching. Created with care and love.
Later, in the security of our home, my wife and I carefully leaf through them, page by page, searching for clues that will help make our own portfolio come alive and build our family.
We have just completed our home study and have moved to a new phase in our open adoption journey: creating a parent profile.
We are excited, anxious, and hopeful. But mostly, we are terrified.
A parent profile, our adoption worker explained, is a networking tool that hopeful adoptive parents use to connect with expectant parents who are thinking of placing their baby for adoption. The goal is to create a unique portrait of yourself, through words and pictures, so that she’ll choose you to become the adoptive parents of her baby.
It sounds simple enough. But far from giving us ideas and inspiration, these other profiles have the opposite effect, making us feel even more intimidated, even more overwhelmed than when we started the process a few months earlier.
All of the couples seem younger, more attractive and more interesting, than us.
Why would a prospective birthmother pick us when she could pick someone like them instead?
“Just be yourself,” our social worker advised us when we asked her what to put in our profile.
Before we got to this stage, I figured that writing our profile would be a breeze — a lot easier than any of the tests and treatments we had gone through prior to our adoption journey. But now that it’s time to sit down and put our thoughts and feelings into words, I’m not so sure about that any more.
What can we offer? What can we say that would make an expectant mother choose us?
All of these other couples seemed to jump out for one reason or another.
This one had been high school sweethearts. This one got married on a beach in Mexico. This one had a brother who was adopted. This one ran marathons. This one worked in the movie business. This one went on skiing vacations in the Alps. This one had nine nieces and nephews. This one had a cottage. Or lived on a ranch. Or spoke four languages…
What was special about us?
That night we sat down and made a list of the things we liked to do. I liked to write. My wife liked to sew. I liked to garden. She liked to redo old furniture. I liked to cycle and play squash. She liked to draw and paint.
Scintillating stuff it wasn’t. But there was nothing we could do about it. That’s what we liked to do and that’s who we were. And so that’s how we depict ourselves in our profile.
We had nothing to be ashamed about , nothing to hide. We figured if it was good enough for us, it should be good enough for someone else, including an expectant mother with an adoption plan.
And sure enough it was.
At the end of the day, it didn’t matter that we weren’t high school sweethearts, that we didn’t run marthons, that we didn’t have a cottage or a ranch or a handful of nephews and neices or spoke three languages…
That wasn’t what our son’s birthmother was looking for.
Had any of those details been important to her, we wouldn’t have been chosen. But we were — for other reasons all her own.
Later, in talking about what drew her to us, our son’s birthmother told us that the connection was instant. The moment she saw our letter and photos, she just knew we were the right family for her. It wasn’t anything she could put her finger on, it was just a feeling. Something about our profile resonated with her.
In speaking to other birthmothers and adoptive parents, I’ve heard similar stories.
In some cases, a couple got chosen because the birthmother was able to relate to them. Or she could picture them raising her child. Or they looked like they were the kind of people who would follow through on their promises. Each situation was different and unique, just like the individuals involved in it.
And so when all was said and done, all of the worrying and wondering we did, all the doubts and fears we had about whether we were good enough to get picked and how would we measure up against other waiting couples didn’t matter.
We stayed true to who we were, and our son’s birthmother — by going with her instincts and choosing the couple that spoke to her — did too. And when it comes to finding a match and starting an open adoption relationship, what more can you ask for?
In the end, we all got what we were looking for.