Imagine you’re a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy who is considering adoption for your baby. Imagine you’ve just gone through a handful of adoptive parent resumes online or at an agency and each one promises to give your baby the future you want to give her.
Which one would you choose? How would you pick one resume over the other, and what criteria would you use?
If you’re like most women who find themselves in this situation, you would likely go through the resumes one by one until you found the one that spoke to you. But how would you know that you’ve chosen the right one? How would you know whether the hopeful adoptive family would deliver on its promises?
With so much at stake, the last thing you would want to do is make a mistake and pick the wrong family. And yet in open adoption, just like most aspects of life, there are no guarantees. In the end, it all comes down to one thing: a feeling in your gut. A voice inside your head. Or a tug on your heart. In a word: trust.
Here are five ways to build trust in your adoption resume (or as it’s also known, your parent profile or “Dear Birthmother” letter) and maximize your chances of connecting with an expectant mother considering adoption for her baby.
Like it or not — and many hopeful adoptive parents don’t — your adoption resume is a marketing tool. In much the same way that a work resume is designed to show potential employers that you’re the best candidate for the job, your adoption resume is aimed at persuading expectant parents considering adoption that you’re the best person to parent her child.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be slick and sales-y. Far from it. Instead, your profile needs to be honest and sincere — written from the heart. Through the use of meaningful and memorable stories and images, it needs to present your life as it really is, imperfections and all, not the way you wish it could be.
In addition to being authentic, your adoption resume needs to be honest. In other words, don’t say something just because you think you need to say it or because other hopeful adoptive parents are saying it in their resume, particularly if you have no intention of following through with it. Your profile needs to reflect and capture who you are.
When writing your profile, just be yourself. If you’re uncertain about what’s next, say so. If you’re still working your way through your decision to pursue an open adoption, say so. Don’t say it was your first choice or that it came naturally to you, especially if you’ve spent the years prior to it undergoing all kinds of infertility treatments.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you did go through three rounds of IVF, don’t pretend it never happened. You’re not being honest with yourself, and you’re not being honest with others.
Likewise, if you don’t have a strong relationship with your siblings or parents, don’t make a point of saying how close you are to them. Expectant parents considering adoption are no different than anyone else.
They deserve the truth. And they know when they’re being fed a fib or a falsehood. Eventually, it will just come back to haunt you so it’s best to be upfront from the start.
Nobody’s perfect. Expectant parents aren’t and neither are you. So don’t try to make yourself sound like your life is an endless series of successes. After a while, it can get tedious. And for your reader, it can also be a huge turn-off.
Everyone makes mistakes. How you react to them and what you’ve learned from them is what gives you your character and sets you apart from others. So don’t be afraid to talk about some of the challenges you’re faced.
Discussing your failures as well as your successes can be comforting for someone who is going through a crisis of her own. Instead of judging you, it could help an expectant mother find common ground and break down barriers between you, thus creating a sense of trust and intimacy. Just make sure that the topics you choose are relevant to her or her situation.
For instance, getting into your infertility struggles isn’t something she can relate to or frankly will be too concerned about.
On the other hand, if you’re straight up with your questions about open adoption and the kind of relationship you would like to have with her in the future, a expectant mother may find you easier to talk to than an adoptive family that doesn’t have any of those issues.
Avoid Making Big Promises
Actually, on second thought, avoid making any promises of any kind at all, big or small. Why? Because it’s too early in the game to make them.
As you may have noticed, many adoption resumes end with a paragraph entitled “Our Promise To You” in which the hopeful parents often promise expectant mother the world, provided they are chosen to parent her baby.
But that’s not something that should be in your letter. Your letter is your chance to introduce yourself to an expectant mother and make a case for why you would make a great parent for her baby. Rather than promise her the world, use your resume to paint a picture of what your world is like. Tell her about yourself, your family and your home.
What kind of experience do you have with children? What are some of the lessons you’ve picked up from your own childhood? What do you know about adoption? What do you want your children to know about their birthparents?
You can make all the promises you want to, from creating a blog to provide weekly updates to the expectant mother about her child to setting up monthly visits. But what’s the point? If you haven’t given her the opportunity to know you, why should she believe you? Before you promise anything, you need to show her that you’re the real deal and come across as trustworthy and credible.
If many adoption resumes end with a section called “Our Promise To You,” they often start off with a line designed to show the expectant mother that the hopeful adoptive parents understand what she’s going through. But the truth is, unless they’ve gone through an unplanned pregnancy, they don’t know.
And that’s okay. What’s not okay is wasting valuable real estate in your resume giving lip service to a serious issue that deserves care and consideration.
Be empathetic, but be sincere. When it comes to reaching out to an expectant mother, don’t go overboard and raise issues that you have no experience with.
Instead of telling her what she already knows — how hard it must be for her — talk about your own connection to adoption, if you have one, or what adoption has taught you about relationships. Or just ask her about her pregnancy.
Show the expectant mother that you care about her, not just about her baby. This will make your resume appear more credible and allow you to move forward with your adoption plan more quickly and easily.
Building trust in your adoption resume takes time and care. But in the end, if you stay true to yourself and to the expectant mother you’re writing to, it can be easier than you think.