This guest post is by Elizabeth Ehlen, an adoption professional and author.
One of the things I noticed when I take my turn answering the phones is how difficult it is for people sorting out fact from fiction in adoption.
When you are the first point of contact for someone who is trying to decide if adoption is right for them you get a lot of questions, all of which come from various and sundry assumptions and reference points.
We get questions like, “Can I stop by to see your babies?” Or “I heard there are thousands of kids available for adoption so I thought I’d take one off your hands” or “What do you mean it costs money to adopt?”
We get that last one a lot. We have even had people ask if they can stop by to pick up a baby after work!
Eventually, once people go through our program they realize that the world is not raining babies, they realize that part of the adoption process is making themselves available to those considering adoption for their child (born or unborn – we do occasionally work with parents who have already delivered their child and for some reason cannot continue to parent. Rare but does happen occasionally.)
A huge piece of that is their adoptive parent profile.
We provide graphic design services as part of our whole agency services, and use those profiles as a good starting point for adoption consideration. But you do have to remember, a profile is not the sum total of your relationship.
It’s a good start, and you may even be chosen based on your profile. But that is the beginning of a relationship that lasts throughout your life.
I often compare adoption to marriage. When you are single and dating you might go through several different dates before you find someone you are willing to spend the rest of your life with.
When you do, a lot of focus is placed on the wedding, but often the marriage — you know the rest of your life part — is ignored.
We need to focus more on the marriage than the wedding. In adoption, much attention is given to the match.
Do you have the perfect profile? Is something you say going to be a turn off? Are you too fat, too thin, showing your active lifestyle, showing how educated you are, showing how great you are with kids? etc. etc. etc.
And it isn’t that all that information isn’t important, it is and those considering adoption for their child need to know it. But just like with dating, your profile, or website or ad campaign is not the sum total of your life, and the match isn’t the epitome of the process.
What your profile and subsequent contact with any prospective birth parent needs to reflect is what kind of family you are and what kind of environment you will provide your child.
It’s ok to be different, as long as you are genuine. It also needs to assure those who are making a tough decision that you have thought through not just the wedding but the marriage.
I find that often those seeking to adopt become the adoption version of Bridezilla — so caught up in the match and how to make/find/manufacture the perfect one that they miss preparing for the reality of the rest of their lives.
So even though you may be desperate for that match, take a step back and evaluate what open adoption will look like for you, and be honest about that in your profile (or website or whatever outreach you do.)
Profiles are meant to show you at your best.
But the real you, not some alternate universe perfect variation. My advice to every adoptive parent who is waiting, whether it’s two weeks or two years is to be very honest about themselves and make sure that is reflected in their profile.
To not do so is kind of like when you wear new high heels on a first date when you aren’t a heel girl; you’ll probably fall flat on your face.
Elizabeth Ehlen is the Director of Placement Services at A Gift of Hope Adoptions, a licensed Missouri adoption agency that she helped found. She is also the co-author of an ebook for those just starting out researching their adoption options, Adoption Options: For Prospective Adoptive Parents.
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