EGWs6uuBZ3pp-zGuVVdmeLgkJG4 Across the Avenue: Adoption Profile Books, Do's and Don'ts!

Adoption Profile Books, Do's and Don'ts!

For most private adoptions hopeful parents prepare an Adoption Profile Book for the expectant birth mother. These are short books, usually between 8 and 12 pages, filled with photos and text snippets of various families wishing to adopt her baby. At first glace this seems pretty self-explanatory but we've definitely learned some lessons!

  • DO research other family profiles. Ask your consultant or agent for samples. Leaf through them to get an idea of what you like and dislike. 
  • DO put yourself in the birth mom's shoes. Try to see it from her eyes. Who are these people? What are their values? What are their pictures actually showing? What are their words actually telling about themselves?
  • DO assemble lots of photos. The more the better; choice is a good thing! Photos get noticed first, then if she is still interested she'll read the text. Good photos show family members smiling!
  • DO plan for time. We staged a few pictures around our house. By the time everyone is arranged, the phone is positioned, the time set, and the flash goes off a lot can change. Of the 60 we took one Saturday, 4 made the cut. It took 4 hours.
  • DO recruit help. We hit up the in-laws for a day of photos and it made a world of difference having someone else take the pictures. The person behind the lens can give direction on smiles, eyes, lighting, and everything else you won't notice until you're looking at a bad photograph. We planned for 2 hours and took several changes of clothing each. It ended up taking 5 hours between driving to different locales and retaking so many photos from different angles. Of the 800 taken, about 50 made it into consideration for the profile book.
  • DO include pictures of your house, yard, neighborhood playgrounds, hobbies, and activities. You want to show the total environment her baby will grow up in.
  • DO take constructive criticism and feedback from professionals. Your consultant or agency sees when these books get second looks and when they get passed over. Your friends and family probably do not. A birth mom trying to decide between families to establish a connection with likely sees several books. If it's easy for her to discard one, she will.
  • DON'T phone it in! This is THE most important thing in the beginning. This book is what seals the deal and convinces a birth mom your family is the best match for her unborn child. At first we tried to do it ourselves using an online photobook service. 6 hours later we started researching professionals to help us. Editing is hard. Assembling is hard. Writing is hard. There are too many choices: fonts, colors, page design, style, etc. It's overwhelming. No matter if you do it yourself or hire the work out, it will take planning, review, and editing.
  • DON'T think it will be fast OR easy! Our profiler told us it takes about 10 business days to assemble the first draft, and most families go through 3 rounds of edits: first the family, then the agency/consultant, plus a third for touch-ups. It will likely take 3 to 4 weeks to produce a quality product from a professional. At least a few days of work if you're doing it yourself.
  • DON'T make big personal changes during editing. Need a haircut? Wait until all photos are submitted and editing finished. Need to get your hair colored? Do it before taking photos.
  • DON'T lie. Seems obvious but the temptation is there to seem TV-perfect. Don't invent hobbies or interests you have no connection to. Just be yourself, but highlight all the best parts of your personality.
  • DON'T automatically delete photos because one person looks weird. You very well may need to crop some photos to focus in on the person who does look good for any close-ups needed.
  • DON'T have alcohol in your photos.
  • DON'T wear sunglasses in your photos.
  • DON'T refer to your rescue pet as "adopted." It could offend a birth mother.

Looking back the single biggest recommendation I can make is to HIRE A PROFESSIONAL. It's possible to do it yourself, but it's highly unlikely you'll be as good as someone who does this for a living. It wasn't cheap, but what professional service requiring several weeks of artistic attention to detail is? When we looked through other Profile Books it was painfully obvious who used a service and who did it at home. If it's that obvious to us it MUST be obvious to a birth mother. Who do you think she'll pick to entrust her unborn baby to?