The Adoption Profile and How It's Used in the Adoption Process

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Recently, I watched the Red Table Talk where Jada Pinkett Smith and her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, hosted former Sex and the City star Kristin Davis for a talk about transracial adoption. I really enjoyed this podcast and think it can help many families considering transracial adoption (I look forward to including a post just about transracial adoption soon). However, one thing I found really interesting about this podcast was that both Jada and her mom were very surprised that the birth mothers for Kristin’s two African American children had actually chosen Kristin to raise their babies. That made me realize that there are probably many other people that don’t understand the domestic adoption process, and how adoptive parents are typically chosen by an expectant family considering adoption for their child - usually through the use of the very important adoption profile.

Typically, an expectant family considering adoption will contact an attorney or agency to help them locate a family looking to adopt, if they don’t already know of someone that may be interested in adopting their child. There are many different adoption attorneys and agencies across the country and they all operate slightly differently. Some state’s laws only allow licensed adoption agencies in their state to help choose an adoptive family, while in other states adoption attorneys can help with that selection process. However, in most cases, the expectant family considering adoption is presented with the “adoption profile” of families looking to adopt (historically, this was called a “Dear Birth Mother Letter”, a term that has fallen out of favor since a birth mother is only someone who has already consented to an adoption).

The hopeful adoptive family typically does not meet the expectant family in person or even talk with the expectant family over the phone before they are chosen, instead, they are just “presented” to that expectant family through an adoption profile. These adoption profiles are generally scrapbooks about the hopeful adoptive family, where an expectant family considering adoption can learn more about a hopeful adoptive family’s story, their thoughts on adoption, and their plans for the future. These profiles typically contain information about the hopeful adoptive family, how they met, if they have any kids, what type of house/neighborhood/community they live in, what their extended families look like, if they have any pets, and why they are choosing adoption as a way to grow their family. In the profiles designed by Purl, we typically include fun facts about the couple that make them unique, as those unique facts are often why an expectant family is drawn to a particular hopeful adoptive couple.

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Hopeful adoptive families usually have been given some information about the possible adoption situation, facts like the due date of the child, the race of the child, what type of adoption the expectant family wants (usually open or semi open), who is involved in the adoption plan (whether both the expectant mother and expectant father are making that decision), whether there has been any prenatal care or if there is any known medical issues, whether there has been any drugs or alcohol used during the pregnancy, and what the total cost is of the adoption. Then, those hopeful adoptive parents make a decision whether to be “presented” to the expectant family, which means that they are generally committing to moving forward with that adoption if they are chosen.

Oftentimes, an expectant family will spend a lot of time reviewing the family profiles of the families that have presented before making a decision. In other cases, an expectant family is immediately drawn to one family and chooses them immediately to be the adoptive parents for their child. Once an initial choice is made, the adoption professional usually arranges a meeting or call between the expectant family and the hopeful adoptive parents to confirm the choice of them as potential adoptive parents. Once the expectant family confirms their choice in hopeful adoptive families, the adoption professionals typically call that a “match”. In many cases, the hopeful adoptive family develops a relationship with the expectant family for the rest of the pregnancy, which can often make it more comfortable for the expectant family to consent to the adoption after the child is born.

So, as you can see from the typical agency/attorney adoption process, the adoption profile is a VERY important piece and it is important to spend great care in developing your profile. At Purl, we include the design of the family profile in many of our advisement packages, or we can recommend other professionals for design or even sites/programs to design the profile yourself. Many adoption professionals like to see different things included in the adoption profile, or may have a specific format they want used. So we strongly recommend hopeful adoptive families discuss the adoption profile with their adoption advisor or any adoption professional they plan to work with before beginning their profile design.

At Purl, our clients work with many different adoption attorneys and agencies during their adoption journey, all of whom like something slightly different in the adoption profile. In our experience, adoption attorneys and some adoption agencies like to see a shorter adoption profile, between 4-10 pages long, and not the lengthy books that many hopeful adoptive parents have created on Shutterfly-like sites. We typically recommend our families create an adoption profile that is around 16 pages covering the topics above, with a slightly shorter version (4-8 pages) used for those professionals that want to see a shorter profile book. Most adoption professionals are going to want to have a physical printed book to present to the expectant family, but also want to have a PDF version to share electronically. So it is very important to have your book in a PDF version that can be shared easily through e-mail communication, so make sure whatever program you use will provide you a PDF as well as a printed version.

If you’d like more tips about the adoption profile, check out some of our other posts on the subject on our Learn page. You can also see excerpts of Purl Profiles we have designed along with design prices, or full profiles of our hopeful Purl families on our Featured Families page. You don’t have to be an advisement client of Purl’s to have your profile designed by us. There are also other perks of having your profile designed by Purl, as we will often share adoption opportunities with our profile clients if we don’t have an active Purl family interested or a good fit for the adoption opportunity.

No matter how you create your family profile, make sure you understand just how important this book is to your adoption journey! Try and make your profile reflect your family attractively and authentically so that you are chosen by an expectant family for the real you!

Katie Zimmerman