A hopeful adoptive parent recently asked me to help her and her husband get their adoption profile noticed by a potential birthmother. They had been “out there,” online, for four years but their profile wasn’t getting a lot of traction.
They wondered what were they doing wrong, and what else they could do, to set themselves apart and catch the attention of an expectant mother who was thinking about placing her baby for adoption.
It’s a question that every couple hoping to adopt struggles with, not only those with an online adoption profile.
The truth is, there is no secret, no one simple answer. Finding a match comes down to a number of factors, some within your control, others not.
That said, you, as a hopeful adoptive parent, have something unique to offer. Everyone does. The key is to discover what it is and to express it as concisely and clearly as you can so that your story resonates with a prospective birthparent.
Not that it’s easy to do. Most of us don’t enjoy talking about ourselves, let alone doing it in an adoption profile.
What do you say to a woman you’ve never met but who could make your dream of becoming a parent come true?
How do you do “sell yourself” but stay true to who you really are?
How do you make yourself sound interesting without coming across as desperate or boastful?
Of course, just because you want to become a parent more than anything else in the world now doesn’t make you desperate.
There are many ways to express your interest without coming across as desperate. Or boastful. And yet…
If you don’t sing your praises, who will?
Let me give you an example: me! Most days I like to think of myself as a mild-mannered, modest person.
But when it came time to create and send out our adoption profile, I realized that if we wanted to get noticed we had to switch gears and start marketing ourselves.
And so I came up with ways to make my wife and I stick out from the crowd, albeit in a positive and memorable way.
In those days, the internet was still in its infancy so that’s where we went. And sure enough, thanks to a bit of good luck and timing, our son’s birthmother saw our profile and chose us.
When we created America Adopts! more than a dozen years later, we had to do it all over again. The fact that our first adoption profile neworking website had already been around for over a decade and had its share of successes and positive write-ups didn’t cut it.
There were plenty of other online adoption profile websites that were older, larger or more established. What adopting couples wanted to know — and rightly so — were two things:
- What was different about us?
- What could we do for them?
And so we created a list of things that made us distinct from all of the other websites.
The same goes for you. You also need to come up with a list of things that will set you apart and earn a potential birthmother’s trust.
Saying that you have a great marriage or that you can’t wait to adopt or that you’ll make wonderful adoptive parents isn’t enough. If you want to get noticed, you need to differentiate yourself in a meaningful way.
Meaningful = Memorable
The “trust us, we’re the couple you’re looking for” approach doesn’t work anymore. There are way, way too many other adopting parents to choose from.
Cutting through the clutter isn’t easy, but it can be done. First, when it comes to talking about your strengths, don’t pile it on. If you come up with a million things, you really will sound desperate and leave a potential birthmother feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Instead, find one, two or three relevant things that tell a story about you and make the most of them. Give her a reason to choose you.
Saying you’re a great ice skater is fine, but it doesn’t tell a prospective birthmother much about you. However, spinning a story about how you teach children to skate or how you can’t wait to go skating with your child at the local community center says a lot more.
As they say in the marketing world, don’t just sell the features. Sell the benefits.
Let me give you two more examples. Years ago, I worked with a hopeful adoptive mother I dubbed “the baker.” The reason I called her “the baker” is because — you guessed it — she loved to bake.
How do I know that? Because she made a point of telling me again and again in her letter and her photos. But in a — pardon the pun — tasteful rather than annoying way.
I don’t know if she ever ended up getting chosen by a birthmother. But I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she and her son or daughter are happily baking together in her kitchen today. That’s how much of an impression her profile made on me. And I have a feeling that it made a strong impression on others, too.
In a more recent example, just the other day I posted Lexie and Chris’ parent profile on our adoption outreach page. If you read their letter, you’ll see they have a lot of things going for them. But what jumped out for me was this line, near the top of their profile: “We enjoy Latin culture, food and music (salsa, bachata and merengue) and we actually met each other at salsa-dancing lessons!”
It’s only a few words, but it says so much about them — about their fun-loving nature, their spirit for adventure and their passion to explore new things. I can even picture how they met, can you?
Long after I finishing reading their profile, that sentence stayed with me. Perhaps because it captured all of the other themes in their profile. In my mind, they’ll always be the “happy salsa-dancing couple.”
So are you’re putting together your profile, keep in mind that we all stand for something. We all have our own unique interests, hobbies, traits and values that make us who we are and set us apart from everyone else in the world.
Think about what you stand for. What are your attributes? What makes you memorable?
It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. It just has to be authentic and tell a story.
A story about you.
What are you doing to get noticed by potential birthmothers? How do you want readers of your adoption profile to think about you? How are you positioning yourself in regards to other couples?Feel free to leave your comments in the space below.