This guest post is by Deanna Kahler, an adoptive parent and author.
More than 16 years ago, we started the adoption process. I remember it as if it were yesterday — mounds of paperwork, background checks, medical exams and meetings with our social worker.
I’ll never forget the eye-opening class we took through our state to learn about abused and neglected children, an experience that left a permanent imprint on my heart.
One of the most memorable days, however, was the day we finished our home study. After seven years of yearning to be parents, two miscarriages and a lot of heartbreak, completing our home study finally filled us with hope and excitement.
But as many of you know, the home study is just a stepping stone on the road to parenthood. Once you’re finished, you’ll need to network to find an expectant mom who is looking to place her child for adoption.
At this point, you’ll likely have many questions: What are expectant parents looking for? What should our online profile include? How do we stand out among other prospective adoptive parents? Here are some tips to help lead you to the right adoption match.
Know What Expectant Parents Are Looking For
Contrary to what you may believe, most expectant parents aren’t looking for couples with fabulous careers, big houses or a lot of money. They don’t need you to be “perfect” parents.
Of course, they want their child to have a good life, but what’s most important is finding a family who will take excellent care of their baby and love him or her unconditionally.
Often, expectant parents look for stability, strong family ties and your ability to offer a variety of experiences. Are you and your spouse healthy? Do you have a solid marriage? Does at least one parent have a steady, regular income? Do you have family support?
Will the child have an extended family to play and bond with? Will you take the child to the park, zoo, beach and on vacations? Will the child be able to participate in sports? What are your religious beliefs?
These are some of the most common questions she may have when trying to determine if you are the right parents for her baby.
Make Your Adoption Profile Stand Out
When you look through online adoption profiles, you’ll find hundreds with cute, smiling pictures of couples hoping to adopt, and all will tell you they can’t wait to be parents or that they believe they will be great parents.
But a strong adoption profile isn’t about telling; it’s about showing. You want to give expectant parents a good idea of who you really are. The goal is to help them feel like they know you and can connect with you.
Consider including pictures of you interacting with your friends’ and relatives’ kids. Show them what you’re interested in and the activities you like to do.
You want to help them imagine how their child might fit in with your family. Do you have any special holiday family traditions? Do you visit a regular vacation spot? Are you a sports enthusiast? Do you like camping? What makes you and your spouse unique?
When we were waiting to adopt, an expectant mom was excited to see a picture of my husband at Cedar Point, standing in front of what was then called the Mantis. She thought it was really cool that he liked roller coasters and imagined her child getting to enjoy them also. It’s little things like these that can make you stand out.
Be Real, Be Honest
One of the most nerve-wracking parts of the adoption process is meeting with a potential birth mother. You may fear she won’t like you or that you’ll say the wrong thing.
First, remember it’s normal to feel nervous or afraid and then focus on being honest and genuine with her. Don’t try to present yourself as the “best candidate for the job” and resist the temptation to brag about your career, successes and house.
All of that matters very little when compared to who you are as a person. Instead, think of the meeting as a chance to get to know each other. Ask her questions about herself, her hobbies and interests, and encourage her to ask questions about you.
When we met with an expectant mom for the first time, I was so nervous, I didn’t know if I could speak. I’m an introvert, so talking to strangers has always been difficult for me.
When you combine that with the importance and significance of the meeting, it’s no wonder I was so worried. We said hello and awkwardly sat down at a table in a restaurant, where the expectant mom ordered just lemonade.
Before our conversation began, I admitted to her that I was really nervous. She smiled and said: “Yeah, me too.” After that, it was a lot easier to talk.
Remember, you’re both human and are on the same side. She wants a family for her child, and you want a child for your family. Shared interests, common experiences and an honest, open conversation can ultimately lead to a great adoption match for both of you.
Deanna Kahler is a proud mom and freelance writer with more than 20 years of professional experience. She has written for several adoption websites and is the author of the award-winning book, From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption. When she’s not busy educating and inspiring others, Deanna enjoys walking, dancing, hanging out in parks and spending time with her family. Check out her webpage at www.deannakahler.com.
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