Is your adoption profile online?
Do you find yourself checking it a millions time a day?
Do you find yourself checking out other people’s profiles a million times a day?
When checking out other people’s profiles, do you find your heart sink every time you see the words “Matched” splashed across their photo?
Welcome to the club.
When I was adopting, checking out other couples wasn’t simply something I did to pass the time. It was an obsession.
It started innocently enough.
At first, it was like a game. Each day, when I went online, I would pore over profiles of these strangers and try to guess which ones would get picked by a prospective birthmother and which one’s wouldn’t.
But pretty soon, my “game” got out of hand.
First, one couple would get picked. Then another. Then another.
Pretty soon everyone was getting chosen except me. Or at least that’s the way it seemed to me.
Eventually, my curiosity turned to envy, and my envy turned to self-pity.
- Why were these other couples getting chosen and not us?
- What did they have that we didn’t?
- What was wrong with our profile?
- When would our turn come to get picked?
- What happens if we never get picked?
But that wasn’t the end of it. Then I would get angry, and then I would feel guilty about getting angry. After all, what did I have against these other couples? I didn’t even know them. Didn’t they just want what I wanted?
I’m the first to admit it was all pretty pathetic, but I couldn’t help it.
I shared the same digital space with these people. In my twisted way of thinking, each time one of them got picked by a prospective birthmother, our chances of being chosen dropped significantly.
At the same time, in a perverse way, I felt this compulsion to size everyone up, to know who else was out there, what other couples were in the running and whether they had anything over us.
It wasn’t until later that I learned my lesson and realized that my fears were unfounded.
I wasn’t in competition with them.
Getting matched isn’t about who can make a connection the fastest or easiest. It’s not a popularity contest where the couple with the most votes wins.
Nobody likes to wait. We all want to get chosen. And we all want to get chosen first and have a prospective birthmother point to us and say, “Yes, they’re the perfect couple. I’ll take them.”
But isn’t it better to wait and find the birthmother that’s meant for you than to jump in and get matched with the first one that comes along and then find out that you’re not a good fit?
The thing about posting your adoption profile online is that it’s a double edge sword.
On the one hand, it puts you out there where prospective birthparents can find you 24/7.
But it also can make you mental when you realize how many other hopeful couples there are out there with the same goal. Sizing them up isn’t simply tempting. It’s human.
But even though these other hopeful adoptive parents want the same thing as you do, the path they take to get there and achieve their goal isn’t the same as yours.
Every hopeful adoptive couple is different.
As a result, each one brings different things to a child. Similarly every birthmother is different and looks for different things for her child.
For instance, if you live in Texas and a prospective birthmother lives in Michigan and is looking for a couple from there, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
If you’ve described yourself as “spiritual” and a prospective birthmother is looking for a religious couple, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
If you’re childless and a prospective birthmother is looking for a family that already has a child, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
If you’re a heterosexual and a prospective birthmother is looking for a same sex couple, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
If you’re caucasian and a prospective birthmother is looking for a transracial couple, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
If you’ve indicated that you’re interested in a semi-open adoption and a prospective birthmother is looking for an open adoption, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
If you’ve indicated that you’re interested in a healthy baby and a prospective birthmother’s baby has special needs, chances are she’ll choose another couple.
These variables — your location, family size and composition, race, sexual orientation, etc — are just some of the considerations that go into a prospective birthmothers’ decision-making process. And there are many, many more. Too many to mention here.
The point is, it’s out of your hands.
So don’t take it personally. There are so many things you don’t know about the prospective birthmother and what she wants. And also about the couple that got chosen.
- Who they are?
- What were they looking for?
- How did they depict themselves in their online profile?
- How many prospective birthmothers saw it?
- Why were they chosen?
At the same time, when it comes to finding an an adoption match, there are no guarantees. A prospective birthmother may go into the selection process with her sights set firmly on one type of family only to emerge from the process with one that’s completely different.
All it takes is one little thing, one little detail that speaks to her and forces her to throw her wish list out the window.
I’ve seen it happen again and again.
In a recent example I posted on our Facebook page, one birthmother took one look at a couple’s photos of themselves playing hockey with their nephew and picked them to be her baby’s parents even though they didn’t fit any of her criteria.
Why? Because in that moment she could picture them doing the same thing with her son.
And just because you haven’t found a match yet doesn’t mean you never will. What’s more, don’t forget a match isn’t the same as an adoption. Just because another couple has found a match doesn’t mean it will result in a placement.
That’s one of the most exciting things about the adoption match-making process. You never know when or where your connection will come from. Sometimes a birthmother finds you. Other times you find her.
So don’t fret just because other adoptive parents are getting matched online and you’re not. The internet is a big place and If you look hard enough you’ll always find a couple that seems “better” or “more deserving” than you. And the opposite, too.
Instead, use your time constructively by figuring out what makes you unique and then convey it as best you can in your profile.
Yes, it would be nice to find something that would appeal to every prospective birthmother that comes across your profile. But that’s not what you’re trying to do.
Your goal is to connect with the one birthmother that’s right for you.
At the same time, start looking at other hopeful adoptive couples differently. Realize they’re your allies, not your enemies.
They “get” what you’re going through probably better than anyone else in the world, because they’re going through it themselves. So rather than see them as threats, look for a way to join them on their journey and to get them to join you on yours.
As anyone who has ever tried to adopt knows, there’s strength in numbers. Adoption can be such a long and lonely quest, it’s nice to find support and encouragement along the way. In fact, some of the best and strongest friendships I’ve made have been with people in the adoption community.
And I’m not alone. Recently, prospective adoptive parents that are following us on Twitter posted their story about how being on social media helped them find hope and comfort.
In fact, it was with that idea in mind that we created the Buddy Network for couples on our Find A Family page. Everyone who joins has the option of share their email address with other couples on the page as well as their joys and sorrows and possible leads.
So next time you see a couple with the word “Matched” stamped across their photo, decide which way you want to react. Will you get envious and angry or will you take pride in their success and get inspired by it?
After all, if they’ve made a connection, it means you can too. It may not happen today or tomorrow or next week, but it will happen. And the sooner you start looking at adoption matching as a process rather than a competition, the faster that day will come.
Now it’s your turn — do you have an online adoption profile? What are you doing to maximize your exposure? How do you handle it when other couples are chosen before you? Leave your comments in the section below.