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Adoption Blog: Improv Mom

How We Created Our Adoption Profile Book



If you're adopting a baby in the U.S., you'll need to create an adoption profile book. This book is one of the most important first impressions you'll ever make, and you'll want it to speak volumes about you. 

Our daughter's biological mother, Kim, received 10 books, including ours. When Tony and I first met with Kim and the biological father, Charlie, they kept referencing our book while asking us questions. It helped the conversation flow, making an awkward first meeting much more comfortable.
 
Based on much research and working with an adoption consultant, here's what my husband and I learned about creating a book that gets noticed. Consider it my holiday gift to you! 
 
First, some helpful tips:
  • Make it easy to read. Choose a font that's homey and inviting, but be sure that it's easy to read. It may help to stick to a larger font size, say 16 or 18. If you have a lot to share about yourselves, don't worry too much about length. Our book turned out to be 26 pages long. 
  • Make it "kid-friendly." We were advised that biological moms and dads want to see how much you love being around children. So let them see you with the children that are already in your life, namely your nieces, nephews, and friends' kids. Be sure to include lots of pictures of children (37 out of 51 pictures in our book include kids). 
  • Make it descriptive. For example, share how you specifically like to celebrate the holidays. This way, birthparents get to know you, and can begin to envision their child in your life.
  • Make it attractive. My husband is very creative and was responsible for the look of our book. We had a very simple border around each page, and lots of photos with colorful borders. We also included captions, such as "Tony with niece Jaya on our family vacation in Vermont." We had our book professionally printed and bound (we ordered 10 in all, we sent out 4). If you're not a design star, no worries! Try kodakgallery.com or snapfish.com.
  • Make it accurate and respectful. Always use "your baby" or "your child" instead of "our." An example: "As parents, we look forward to the little things, like rocking your child to sleep…."
  • Make it honest, personal, and heartfelt. Only you can tell your story. It took us three months to create our book, mostly because we found it to be so emotional. We included lots of detail since we wanted a birthparent to get an authentic feel for the kind of people we were and the life we were living. Hopefully it was the kind of life she imagined for her child.
 
Here are the pages we included in our adoption profile book:
  • Introduction - This is where we thanked the potential birthmother for looking at our book and told her how much we admired her strength for choosing adoption. Then we shared a bit about our wonderful (and loud) family and friends. We also included important contact information, such as our adoption attorney's phone number and our toll-free line. 
  • About Us - We described how we met and our road to becoming a stable, committed couple with a strong, loving marriage.
  • What I Love Most About Tony (Through the Eyes of Barbara) - This was probably the easiest page to write because it was about my groovy husband! I wrote about his talents, from cooking to spending time with our nieces and nephews to performing magic. I wrote about how he lights up a room, how much children love him, and how very much he wanted to be a father.
  • What I Love Most About Barbara (Through the Eyes of Tony)
  • Our Wedding - We shared where we got married and included some memorable pictures. Our daughter's biological mom, Kim, told us she thought it was great that our nieces and nephews were our bridesmaids and groomsmen. (So did we!)
  • Our Home - Here's where we described not only the home that we love, but also our neighborhood, neighbors, and the many nearby beaches, parks, and playgrounds.
  • Our Friends and Family - We wrote that we were lucky to have so many of our friends and family close by and explained how get-togethers happen at the spur of a moment.
  • A Family Tradition: Camping! - I wrote about how the family camping trips began when I was a little girl and that they're still going strong. My nieces and nephews have a great time doing all the same things my brothers and I did as kids.
  • Holidays- We gave specific examples of how we celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
  • Vacations! Mostly pictures with this sentence: "We love traveling and can't wait to bring your child along, too!"
  • Wishing You the Best - We thanked the potential birthparent for taking the time to get to know us once again, and let her know that we would love to talk to get know each other better. We also repeated the important contact information. Every time we sent out a book, Tony and I signed it.  
A favorite read
 
Today, we keep a copy of our adoption profile book in our daughter's room. We use it to talk about her adoption story. After "reading" it with her and looking at all the family pictures, we tell her how happy we are that Kim and Charlie chose us to be her mommy and daddy forever and ever. 
 
I hope you've found this advice useful. If you have a specific question about creating your adoption profile book, just ask. Or if you have your own adoption profile insights for fellow prospective parents, let's hear from you! 


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12 Comments

I agree with most of what is written here.  I wanted to add that our caseworker also suggested using “your child” when speaking about the expectant parents’ baby, but that in the closing of our profile it was fine to use “our baby.” 

We also wrote about each other like the author mentioned.  However it was suggested that we not write about our wedding or include pictures of it.  We were told that sometimes it can be hard for a birthmom to look at wedding pictures when she’s trying to make an adoption plan.

We’ve kept a copy of our profile for our daughter, too.  It will be nice for her to have it along with all of her other keepsakes.

By wendyandsteve on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm.

I agree with wendyandsteve’s comments regarding wedding pictures. Maybe, maybe one.

When I consult with families on their profile I also help them understand that from the reader’s or the adoptive parent’s perspective, adoption is all about finding a family for a child and not the other way around. If you can really understand this deep in your gut it will help you avoid some of the traps that many fall in to and more effectively empathize and connect with the reader.

Hal

By My Adoption Advisor on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 5:34 am.

Good advice. Sounds like a lot of what we did also. Just wanted to add that I read several times in my research prior to making our profile book to keep the pictures current to the last 5 years. You dont want to include pictures that show a VERY different you than what you actually look like now. Since we had been married about 12 years at this point, we didn’t include pictures from our wedding, just talked about it in some of the pages.
Also, just be very honest about who you are. You may be tempted to “jazz” up your stories for a potential birthfamily, but she/he will choose you for who you are and, quite frankly, you never know what will appeal to them. We were chosen twice ( the first ended in a failed adoption). I had written about a experience where my husband was playing with the kids up in the tunnels at Chucky Cheese and THATS what made up the first birthmoms mind to chose us. My hubby reminded her of her uncle, who she loved. So, write from your heart and you cant go wrong. Good luck!

By Makena on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 7:49 am.

Ah yes…the profile book.  The profile for our first daughter was one of more trying experiences of our adoption journey.

At first, we tried to use some of the free and commercially available programs (including the ones mentioned above).  I’m pretty handy with a computer, but I found the various programs either too simplistic for what I wanted to do, too complex for my abilites (steep learning curve) or too expensive.

Next, we looked at creating a scrapbook-type layout that we could transform into a profile book.  That led to fighting amongst the “creative team” (my wife and I) and even more frustration as we didn’t really know what we wanted to do, how we wanted it to look, or how it would get done.

Finally, we found a person to create our profile for us.  We used Joanna from Our Chosen Child, and the experience was amazing.  We provided her with a bunch of digital pictures and text (only because I wanted to write it - she would have gladly written it herself), and she provided us with a PDF proof.  We made some minor corrections and she had it printed and shipped directly to our agency (with keepsake copies for us and our family). 

How did it look?  It was amazingly beautiful.  For having never met us in person, Joanna completely captured who we are and created a profile that is colorful, stuffed with pictures, and tells the story of who we are. 

We used Joanna again for our second adoption (matched, but awaiting placement) and had another great experience.  I think it is also important to note that with both of our adoptions we were picked the first time our profile was shown.

I apologize for going on and on with this commercial for Our Chosen Child - certainly you can use any service you like for your profile if you do not want to do it yourself - but for us the decision to have our profile created by a professional was one of the best choices we made.

By FeitCanWrite on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 12:53 am.

I disagree with the “your child/baby” construct. From my experience, expectant moms want to know that their babies will be “our” babies - that we will love them as we would children born to us. Using “your”, while meaning to be respectful, could sound like “we’ll never think of this child as our own.” I think “our” takes into account all of the parents involved.

We did use a few wedding pictures, even 9 years later, because they included good pictures of our family members. It’s not often that you get everyone in your family showing up, looking nice, and smiling for the camera at the same time. smile

I think it’s presumptuous to assume that weddings would be difficult subjects for expectant parents. Not all expectant parents are single. Especially if your wedding was recent, if you want to include it, include it. Weddings say a lot about who we are too.

By rredhead on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 11:00 am.

Our book was very similar to yours. But I LOVE the idea of keeping a copy in your child’s room as part of their story. Thanks for the idea. I know my four year old son will love looking at it.

By chillerdab on Thursday, January 05, 2012 at 10:30 pm.

I wanted to address rredhead’s comment that using “your” could sound as if “we’ll never think of this child as our own.”  I disagree…I believe that when expectant parents are looking at profiles, the baby is THEIR baby.  They have not signed a TPR at that point in time.  So by saying “your” child or “your” baby, you are being respectful that adoption is still a choice that the expectant parents can make.  I understand the difference of opinion, but if you have made a profile, gone through all of the steps of the home study, etc., you are going to think of the child you adopt “as your own.”  It’s just a question of respectful wording in the profile stage.

I agree it’s hard to get good pictures sometimes of family members all at the same time, but I know our agency suggested against using wedding photos (at least of the adoptive couple.)  By not including those particular photos, you’re not being presumptuous - you’re thinking of how the expectant parents MIGHT be feeling.  Granted, we can’t possibly know every situation that birthparents might be going through, but I know it was a very easy thing to find other pictures of ourselves as a couple.  In particular, we found pictures of ourselves that showed us in a more “every day” light, not when we were in formal clothes and in a formal setting.  I think those picsshowed a more realistic view of who we are on an everyday basis, rather than photos from the day of our wedding.

Chillerdab - I love the idea of keeping the copy in our child’s room, too.  We have a couple copies saved for our daughter.

By wendyandsteve on Thursday, January 05, 2012 at 11:35 pm.

wendyandsteve: I get what you’re saying. However, both of our children’s birthmoms liked that we used the “our” construct. Also, adoptive parents may know that we’ll think of the child as our own, but birthparents often do not. Again, both of my children’s birthmothers feared that we would not think of or treat the children as we would if they had been born to us. From what I’ve read, this is a very common fear.

I think it’s very easy to over think the profile too. In the end, if you want to include a picture, include it. You can never know what the expectant parent might be feeling or thinking. Maybe she had a bad family trip to Arizona, so you shouldn’t include your Grand Canyon pictures. Maybe she’ll feel guilty that she’ll never be able to go to Disneyland, so you shouldn’t include your Disneyland photos.

See what I mean? I hate it when people say there are absolutes for profile books - Don’t include this kind of photo! Because everyone is different. Everyone will connect with different things. I spent an hour getting a picture of our Betta fish for our first profile. People thought I was nuts for including it. Know what my son’s birthmom liked? Our Betta fish. She had one too. She also liked the picture of the nursery, something that many people recommend you don’t include because it’s presumptuous. Of course, others say definitely include it because the e-parents will want to know where the baby is going to sleep.

What I’m trying to say is, there aren’t any hard and fast rules for profile books. You’ve just got to do your best to represent who you are and the family you want to be.

By rredhead on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 1:54 am.

Thanks for your response, rredhead.  I see what you’re saying. I smiled when I read that you had posted a pic of your fish and that’s one of the connections you had with your son’s birthmom.  I know that there were specific things we wrote about that our daughter’s birthmom connected with, too - that I’m an art teacher, that I work with elementary students, that we like to do similar things, etc. 

I like what you wrote about trying to do your best to represent who you are and the family you want to be.

By wendyandsteve on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 7:53 am.

I think this is mostly great advice! But 26 pp is a bit long unless it is photos with just a line or 2 of text on each page. If an EM has 5 profiles to look at, they can’t all be so long IMHO. At least try to reduce… if you can’t you can’t We aimed for 8 to 16 pp and came up with 14.

By babydreams on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm.
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Barbara Herel

Barbara Herel

New York

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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