adopting blog

Inspiration, Resources, Opinions & Advice From Our Adoption Community

What If No One Picks Us?

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I received an email this morning with the exuberant subject line, “We’re matched!!!” I’ve seen these words (and the exclamation points!!!) many times before and they are always joyful. However, today’s email stood out, as it came from a couple that had been waiting longer than most and was worrying more than many that they would never be picked.

Sound familiar? I’m guessing that if you are on an adoption profile website, this is a fear you can relate to. You look at the sea of smiling faces waiting to adopt and wonder, “How will we/I stand out from the crowd? What will prompt a birthmother to pick me to be the parent of her child? How can we/I ‘compete’ with people who are more attractive, more educated, more interesting, more prosperous, more….?”

Before I lose you in a sea of “mores,” let me jump in and say, YOU WILL BE PICKED. I know it is hard to believe and these may sound like hollow words coming from someone who does not know you but I have worked in adoption for over 35 years and I have never known anyone not be picked. So I hope that gives my assurances credibility.

Here is how it works…Birthparents pick people for all sorts of reasons, including some that you might find strange or idiosyncratic. I’ve had people picked because they were allergic to cats (the birthmother was as well), because she loved their garden (it was actually in the neighbor’s yard), because they had a modest home and ‘everyone else’s house looks so fancy,’ because their nephew had the same first name as the birthmother’s older child, One couple advised by their agency to leave out their snowmobile photos because “they look like you are risk takers, “ left the photos in and were chosen by a birthmother who said she chose them because “you will be adventuresome parents.” Sure, there may be a birthparent who is looking for the most attractive, most educated, most interesting and most prosperous adoptive parents but most are not. In fact, I’ve heard birthparents shy away from dazzling couples saying, “I don’t want my child to have to measure up to their standards.”

Upon hearing that they need to prepare a profile, many people interested in adoption will say, “I don’t want to have to market myself. I don’t want to have to sell myself to a birthparent.” To this, I say that I don’t see it as “marketing” or “selling,” but rather, an opportunity for people to introduce themselves. “Include what you like best about yourself and your life.” If it were me, I would sure want someone to pick me for who I am, not for whom I thought they wanted me to be.

I do have some tips for preparing your profile that aren’t about selling or marketing or airbrushing your life. Here are some of the qualities that I think make for a good profile.

  1. Choose outdoor lighting when possible. You may love the photo of you and your three best friends enjoying a quiet evening in your dimly lit living room. Remember that someone viewing your profile has no emotional attachment to the photos. Dark photos—no matter what memories they capture for you—are dark.

  1. Choose photos that show you doing something. One nice photo of you sitting on a beach at sunset is ok, but several get boring. You are likely to engage a viewer more with a photo of you tossing a salad or making a pie crust than with a collection of idyllic poses.

  1. Avoid a travelogue. Chances are you have travelled more than the birthmother viewing your profile. She may enjoying seeing one photo of Paris or Amsterdam to illustrate that you enjoy exploring the world, but she’s not likely to relate to a big bunch of travel photos.

  1. Avoid empty rooms. When you include photos of your home or condo, have people in them. You may have beautiful rooms or a lovely yard, but both will look vacant with no one in them.

  1. Don’t overwhelm with lots of small photos. Again, I’m thinking about what will engage a birthmother. A few large, easy to see and relate to, bright, clear photos will do more for your introduction than several small photos that she can barely see.

I hope these “profile observations” help. I hope, also, that you will feel free to disagree with them. What matters most is that YOU feel great about your profile. You WILL be chosen and how nice it will be to know that you were chosen for who you are and not who you thought someone would want you to be.