Hardly a week goes by without an inquiry from a waiting parent asking, “How do I get chosen by a birthmother?” “What are birthmothers looking for?” or “How many birthmothers do you get on your site.”
These are really difficult questions to answer. Although we understand where they’re coming from, the first thing we usually point out is that birthmothers are people who have already placed their baby for adoption.
If you’re looking for someone who is considering adoption for her baby, you should be asking questions about expectant mothers. But again, those are difficult questions to answer.
First of all, getting chosen is hard. Really hard. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who has ever gone through the open adoption process.
With few exceptions, they’ll tell you that trying to find a match was the most frustrating and nerve-wracking part of the process.
And it’s easy to see why. Most people aren’t used to sending out a letter and photos of them to complete strangers in the hopes of getting that family to place their child with them.
But that’s what you need to do when you’re trying to find a match through open adoption. There are scores of websites and blogs posts that will tell you how to find a match.
And yet very few of them will tell you what you’re doing wrong. Here are three of the most common reasons why an expectant mother (or parents) haven’t reached out to you and what you can do to improve your odds of making a connection.
1. You’re not being proactive enough
To find a match, you have to get out there and reach out to expectant parents. In other words, you have to go to them. They don’t come to you.
Creating an adoption profile, no matter how awesome it may be, isn’t enough. You need to find a way to increase your exposure and get it in front of the people that count.
Nowadays everyone is online, and expectant parents are no different. So if you haven’t created an account on social media networks, created a blog, joined a profile service, or told everyone you know that you’re adopting, now is as good a time as any to start.
2. Your profile doesn’t stand out
For many expectant parents, their first point of contact with you will be through your profile. That’s why it needs to be the best it can be. That means the writing and wording have to be spot on, the photographs sharp and illustrative, and the overall package has to look visually interesting and easy to digest.
Too many times waiting parents will fall into the trap of spouting out cliches in their letter (“Dear birthmother.” “we can’t believe how difficult a time this is for you” etc.) and hiring professionals to take staged photos that may look great but don’t say anything about them.
Your letter is your introduction to expectant parents. It’s not enough to tell them what you want them to know about you. You also have to think about what’s important to them.
What are your thoughts about education? What are your plans for child care? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you handled it.
And most importantly, you need to find ways of standing out and setting yourself apart from other waiting parents. Have some photos of you goofing around or making fools of yourself? A Top Ten list of things you plan to do with your child before the age of 5? Include them in your profile.
Expectant parents aren’t looking for a perfect profile. But they are looking for something unique. When creating your portrait, try to make it interesting and accessible.
3. You haven’t given your search enough time
If you’ve been waiting a short time to get chosen by expectant parents and still haven’t found a match usually one of the two reasons above are to blame.
But sometimes, it may not have anything to do with these explanation. Sometimes it may be something as simple as you haven’t given it enough time.
Many waiting parents think finding a match is as easy as creating a profile, putting it online, and then waiting for expectant parents to come calling. If only it were like that!
In fact, finding a match is a lot more complicated. It’s not a question of first-come, first-served. Being first on a waiting list doesn’t mean your turn will come next.
Getting chosen by expectant parents is out of your hands and totally up to the expectant parents. Regardless of what some people may tell you, there’s no simple formula or template.
Sometimes waiting parents find a match quickly. But most of the time, it will take weeks, months or even years.
That’s the bad news. The good is, just because you haven’t been chosen so far doesn’t mean you never will.
Don’t underestimate the power of luck and the power of networking. A lot of times finding a match comes down to talking to the right people or being at the right place at the right time.
But in order for that to happen, you need to take care of the first two points: First, you need to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to catch the attention of expectant parents by putting yourself out there — online, offline and through word of mouth.
And second, you need to go over your profile and make sure that it stands out from the crowd. It needs to honestly and accurately reflect who you are and the parents you would be and in an interesting and unique way. Good luck!