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10
Mar

With Love and Gratitude: Tips for writing a Dear Birth Parent letter

Writing a Dear Birth Parent LetterThe Dear Birth Parent letter is a one-page snapshot of your life and the life you hope to give a child. It is an opportunity for you to put into words your love and longing, your desire to raise a family.  It is, by far, the most read section of any Adoptive Family Profile, and it is one of the hardest things for families to write.

700 words. That’s what it all boils down to. How do you condense your life to a mere 700 words? How can you convey your love for a child you haven’t yet met in one page? How can you connect with a woman making the hardest decision of her life in such a small space?

The biggest piece of advice we can give you is this: Be sincere.

In a sea of Dear Birth Parent letters, an expectant mother doesn’t want to read about the wonderful gated community you live in with all of its amenities. She doesn’t want to read for the 100th time that you live in the top-rated school district in your state. What she really wants to read about is YOU.

Don’t inundate her with the facts of your life; tell her your story instead. Tell her about your hopes and dreams for this child. Tell her what you envision your weekends with this child will look like. Tell her about the quirky little traditions you have and how excited you are to include a child in them.

After several years of designing profiles for adoptive families, we’ve found that the best Dear Birth Parent letters:

Highlight Your Personality

If you’re outdoorsy, share your adventures with birth parents. Tell them about your favorite hiking spot and its amazing views. If you’re more of an artsy person, share your hobbies and talents. Tell them how excited you are to share your love of photography, painting, or woodworking with a child. Maybe you’re more of a quiet person who enjoys reading. Maybe you love to make people laugh.  Whatever it is that makes you, you, share them with the birth parents. These are the things that make you unique, and they will make your family stand out!

Paint a Picture of Your Life

When writing a Dear Birth Parent Letter, tell them how you enjoy many outdoor activities or team sports, or that you spend a lot of time with your family, but don’t stop there! Expand on just the facts and give them the details. What sports do you play? Are you on a team? How much time do you spend outside? What outdoor activities are you most excited to share with a child? What do you do when you get together with your family? Why is family time so important to you?

The more details you give, the easier it will be for potential birth parents to envision their child growing up with your family. They can picture the child riding along in a jogging stroller while you run. Then can imagine their child’s laughter as they play endless rounds of tag with their cousins. They can even see the light in their child’s eyes as he or she makes their very first soccer goal.

Include Your Dreams for the Child

You’ve been dreaming about your future child for years now. You have big plans for your family and hope your child will achieve great things. Well, now it’s time to share those dreams with potential birth parents. Not only should you share these dreams with them, but you should tell them how you plan to make these dreams a reality.

If your dream is to see your child go to college, tell birth parents how you plan to nurture a love of learning. If your dream is to mold a child into a caring, generous adult, share your plans for philanthropy. If your dream is to raise the next President of the United States, tell them how you will instill a passion for making the world a better place.

Are Positive and Upbeat

Most importantly, a Dear Birth Parent Letter should always remain positive. Though you should talk about your struggles with infertility, don’t dwell on the heartache. Instead, focus on how your struggles led you to adoption and how happy you are to have finally found your path to parenthood. What a birth parent really needs to know is that you have moved past your infertility and that you are ready and willing to love their child as your own.

We know how difficult it can be to boil your life and dreams down to 700 words and you can’t expect to do it in 20 minutes flat. This is a very important piece of your Adoptive Family Profile and you should take the time to make sure it is the best representation of your family. So slow down. If you’re stuck, put the pen down (or walk away from the keyboard) and come back to it later.

Remember, you don’t have to put on a façade and pretend to be the perfect family. In fact, your imperfections are what make you stand out. Whatever you write, and however you choose to tell your story, make sure it represents the true, imperfect you.

19
Oct

Adoptive Family Video Profiles: The Dos and Don’ts

VP Promo Booklet 2Every family we work with, will make an Adoptive Family Video Profile with Show Pro Media. These video profiles provide prospective birth mothers a glimpse into your life and showcase your family’s personalities, sense of humor, sincerity, excitement to become parents, love for one another and more.

Filming the video profile might seem overwhelming, awkward or even embarrassing at first, but our Video Specialists are experts at helping adoptive families look their best on camera. To help prepare you for shooting your video profile, we’ve collected a few tips that can guide you through what to do — and what not to do — to help make your video profile as successful as possible.

Dos:

Follow instructions

Go through the video profile instructions packet from beginning to end. This packet is provided to you when you are ready to start filming your video profile, and it includes an outline of components needed for the profile, as well as tips for lighting, audio, background, and even what to wear.

Carefully reading the instructions in this manual and following them through your process of shooting video will ensure your video portrays you accurately on the first take!

When in doubt, shoot more

Get plenty of “short spots,” footage of your family’s interests, activities and hobbies that show your family in action. These clips bring life to your interviews and can include anything from gatherings with family and friends to trips to the park, a museum or a sporting event. Shoot plenty of footage so our team of video editors can choose the very best clips to highlight your family.

Consider distractions

Everything from your air conditioner to a restless dog can create noise that makes the audio of your video difficult to hear. Try to find a quiet space with a clean, simple background to limit distractions.

Take turns

During your interview, it is important that both potential parents talk. If only one parent is responding to the interview questions or appearing in short spots, it could give the impression that the other parent is disinterested or uninvolved in the adoption process.

Both of you should provide your thoughts on the interview questions, and you should take turns filming short spots to make sure you both get time in front of the camera.

Watch videos

When your video profile kit is mailed to you, you will receive a flash drive of educational videos that give more information and examples of how to successfully shoot your video. Watch these videos and view other families’ video profiles online for tips and ideas of what to do.

Don’ts:

Don’t move while filming

If you are holding the camera to shoot short spots, avoid walking with the camera — this can create shaky footage. Also, avoid using the camera’s zoom function. It is best to pick a distance and let the camera roll.

Don’t script your interviews

These videos are meant to highlight your sincerity, so act natural. Don’t read your answers to an interview question, and keep the tone conversational, as if you’re talking to a friend.

Don’t skip questions

Be sure to fully answer all the interview questions listed in the packet. Provide plenty of details in your responses to give prospective birth parents a better understanding of who you are and a sense of how you would parent the child.

Don’t stage your short spots

Just as you should speak naturally during your on-camera interview, you should try not to pose for your short spots. Ideally, these clips should look like home movies. Try filming activities as they happen instead of recreating moments.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box

It might be helpful to watch other adoptive family video profiles on our website, but you are not limited to what other families have done in their videos. Be true to who you are as a couple, and shoot the video that you think best represents you.

Your family has a unique story to tell, and portraying that in your video will help make your profile stand out to potential birth parents.

Our video specialists will view all of your footage and piece together moments to make sure your family is well-represented in your video profile. By following the tips above, you can help capture the best of what your family has to offer to a child.

12
Oct

Adoptive Family Print Profiles: The Dos and Don’ts

Print ProfilesWhen a pregnant woman comes to American Adoptions and is considering adoption, there are a lot of decisions she must make; most importantly, choosing the right family to raise her child. She will likely spend countless hours poring over adoptive family profiles searching for the couple that her baby will call his or her parents. She will receive stacks of print profiles, each one outlining a potential family—and one of them might be yours.

An adoptive family print profile is a written introduction to your family and home. At American Adoptions, all prospective families must complete a print profile to show to women considering adoption. In it, you can expect to include the following:

  • A summary of your family
  • A description of your house and neighborhood
  • An introduction to extended family members
  • A letter to prospective birth parents
  • Pictures of your home, environment, and activities
  • Additional content that makes your family unique

The value of a quality print profile cannot be overstated. Most likely, it will be the very first impression of you that a birth mother gets, and you want that impression to count. It should capture your personality, interests, lifestyle, and—most importantly—excitement to adopt a child.

Every profile is unique and reflects the qualities of that particular family, but there are certain guidelines that every profile should follow to be successful.

Dos:

Include a variety of pictures

Prospective birth parents want to see active shots as well as posed photos. Don’t include several pictures of yourselves making different poses in the same place on the same day. Select photos that show your hobbies, activities, family and friends, as well as pictures from a recent family photo session.

Be descriptive

While you don’t have to write a novel, you do want to be as detailed as you can. The more information you give about your home and lifestyle, the easier it will be for a woman to envision her child in your family.

Talk about your feelings on adoption

There is no need to be formal or hide your feelings; birth parents want to see the emotional side of your story and connect with you.

Respect the birth mother

She is making a difficult and emotional decision, and it will mean a lot to her to know that you are compassionate and thankful for the choice she may make.

Focus on your everyday life

When a potential birth mother reads your profile, she wants to envision what her child’s everyday life will be like. Be sure to talk about things you do on an average week night or weekend, as well as the fun vacations and holiday traditions you may have.

Highlight things that make you unique

Whether it’s an interesting hobby or the funny way you met your spouse, the unique things about you can make a lasting impression on a potential birth mother.

Don’ts:

Pick old or low-quality pictures 

That picture of your cross-country road trip might be special to you, but if it’s several years old or you can’t see your face in it, it may not look great in your print profile. Your pictures should help your profile look clean and give potential birth parents an idea of what you’re like right now.

Dress up

Birth parents often report that overdressed families look unapproachable or cold. Dress in your everyday clothes to give an honest reflection of your daily life.

Assume the reader has decided anything

A woman doesn’t have to commit to adoption in order to view profiles. If you applaud her for her decision or talk about your excitement to raise her child, you could potentially put unwanted pressure on her.

Be gender-specific

Gender-specific language can be unappealing to birth parents, even if their child is your preferred gender.

Overthink it

It’s easy to feel like your profile has to be perfectly polished or to compare yourself to others, but the truth is that there is no secret formula for a successful profile. Just be yourself—your personality and passion to start a family are what will make your profile stand out.

Remember, the goal of your print profile is to help birth mothers envision their child as a member of your family. The adoption process takes a lot of time, consideration, and hard work, but your love for the child you haven’t yet met makes it worth it; let that love show, and your profile will shine!

17
Feb

Adoptive Family Video Profile FAQs

Questions about Adoptive Family Video ProfilesEvery adoptive family we work with will make an Adoptive Family Video Profile with Show Pro Media. Below are some frequently asked questions about Adoptive Family Video Profiles.

What is an Adoptive Family Video Profile?

For most adoptive families, Adoptive Family Print Profiles are their first opportunity to connect with birth parents. Print profiles usually include information about the adoptive family’s home, neighborhood, family members, motivations to adopt, hobbies and much more.

But what if these profiles were watched instead of read? What if birth parents could actually see a couple interact? What if they could witness the couple’s personalities, instead of just reading that they have good personalities? What if they could actually hear and feel their desire to become parents?

By showcasing the qualities that can only translate to video, Adoptive Family Video Profiles allow prospective birth mothers to better envision their child’s life while growing up in your family.

So, how does this process work?

You will receive a Show Pro Video Kit and an easy-to-use instruction booklet in the mail. You will then have 15 days to film the necessary footage and return the video kit back to Show Pro Media.

Using the various interviews with you, family members and friends, additional footage to supplement the interviews, and original music composed by Show Pro, our Video Specialists will edit your footage into an emotive story for prospective birth mothers to watch.

What are the benefits of doing an Adoptive Family Video Profile?

Adoptive Family Video Profiles benefit the birth mother by helping her choose the best adoptive family for her adoption plan. Consequently, there are also many benefits for adoptive families and benefits for adoption professionals:

  • Video Profiles Show Your Family – Imagine picking your spouse with only photographs and a few pages of written information. Now imagine picking a family to raise your child by only using that same information. Adoptive Family Video Profiles allow a birth mother to learn more about you so that she can feel more secure about the family she has chosen.
  • Video Profiles Showcase Personality – Print profiles are a great way to connect with birth parents, but they are only able to present so much. They cannot express how compassionate, funny or outgoing you are in person. In video, your personality and everyday lives can be easily seen.
  • Video Profiles Help Lower Chances of a Disruption – After a birth mother selects a family, she often watches their video multiple times throughout her pregnancy, which helps her stay committed to the family and remind her why she has chosen adoption for her child. While Adoptive Family Video Profiles don’t eliminate disruptions altogether, they give birth parents a stronger sense of knowing the family, which helps them remain dedicated to their adoption plans. Videos are also often used as an “icebreaker” when talking on the phone or meeting in person for the first time.
  • Video Profiles Reach More Prospective Birth Parents – Every year, more and more birth mothers are searching for prospective adoption families on the Web, and an increasing amount search for them on YouTube, the world’s second highest trafficked search engine.

How does the filming process work?

You will receive a Show Pro Video Kit in the mail via FedEx, including some easy-to-use instruction booklets to help you film. You will receive more details on how the filming process works once you register with Show Pro.

We are afraid of the filming process and how we will come across on video. Are we alone?

This is a common concern. The main thing to remember is the goal of the video – to help prospective birth parents get a better understanding of what life would be like as a part of your family. The camera is easy to operate, and you will receive detailed instructions on what to film and how to make it look professional. So be yourself, have fun, and we will take care of the rest!

Show Pro Media created the following video for American Adoptions, which helps address some of these concerns:

How Long Are Adoptive Family Video Profiles?

Each adoptive family’s footage is edited by one of our Video Specialists into a short movie that highlights your family’s personality. Footage quality determines the video’s length, but most profiles are two to four minutes long.

Will we get to approve the video once it is edited, and can we request changes?

Once your video is edited, you will be able to view in your Show Pro Account. You can then either approve it, or request a revision with specific changes that you would like made.

Does Show Pro Media film and edit other video projects?

Yes, Show Pro films and edits a variety of other video project. Visit the following page to watch some of our other video projects.

*Once you register with Show Pro, you will receive a more in-depth FAQ and access to a Video Specialist to help guide you through the filming process. If you have any questions about the video profile process, you can contact a Media Specialist at video.specialist@showpromedia.com!

23
Jul

Online Profile Listings Have a New Look!

New Profile DesignAmerican Adoptions continuously strives to provide families and potential birth parents with timely, accurate information and innovative resources for their adoption plans. One of the many ways our agency continues to offer unique resources to our clients is by monitoring and studying feedback from clients and user statistics from visitors to our website. This constant evaluation allows our agency to identify trends and therefore offer all clients the top-level resources our agency is known for.

Recently, we decided it was time to revisit our family profile listing pages online. We will be implementing a new design on Tuesday, July 23, that will allow for more families to be shown per page. We think this will lower browsing fatigue among potential birth parents, allowing each of our families to have greater visibility online.

The same amount and type of information on each family will still be available and just a click away. It is our hope that these changes will draw potential birth parents into more individual profiles, which will result in longer visits to our website and better exposure for our adoptive families.

American Adoptions is proud to be a leader in the adoption industry and will continue to provide all of our clients with the most innovative resources available to aid them on their adoption journey. Visit our site to check it out!

Please Note: Screen shot taken at random.

15
Mar

Online Profiles Are Getting a New Look!

New Look of American Adoptions Online Adoption ProfilesAmerican Adoptions is constantly striving to provide families and potential birth parents with timely, accurate information and innovative resources regarding their adoption plan. One of the many ways our agency is able to offer such unique resources to our clients is by monitoring and studying feedback from clients and user statistics from visitors to our website. This constant evaluation allows our agency to identify trends and therefore offer all of our clients the top-level resources our agency is known for.

One recent innovation to be offered by American Adoptions is the addition of video profiles of our adoptive families. Since the launch of the video profiles, our agency has seen a dynamic shift in the way potential birth parents view adoptive families and select a family to work with. Over the past year, our birth parent clients have reported to us that when selecting an adoptive family, they first narrow their search to a handful of families via the printed profiles provided to them and then visit our website to view the video profile and make a final decision. Furthermore, the user statistics of our website supports this feedback, as our agency has seen an increase in traffic to both the video profiles and photos on the online family profiles.

Based on this knowledge, American Adoptions has redesigned our online profiles. However, never fear – the same amount and type of information is still available, it is just organized to accommodate these new user trends! Families will now see that the video profile and photographs are made available on the first page of the online profile, with the additional text information available further in. It is our hope that these changes will provide potential birth parents with more of the types of information they are wanting, which will result in longer visits to our website and exposure for our adoptive families.

American Adoptions is proud to be a leader in the adoption industry and will continue to provide all of our clients with the most innovative resources available to aid them on their adoption journey.

*Please note that the image is from a sample family who has already completed placement with our agency.

25
Sep

Adoptive Family Print Profile FAQs

Adoption Profile QuestionsEvery adoptive family we work with will make an adoptive family print profile with us before they become “activated” – or are available for selection by birth parents. Below are some frequently asked questions about adoptive family print profiles. 

What is a print profile? What does it look like and include?

A print profile is a four-page booklet that is your opportunity to speak to potential birth parents and share what is special or unique about your family. Profiles include text and photos that you write/submit, as well as general information like the state you live in and your job and education; all identifying information is omitted. You’ll also provide us with a list of “family favorites” with everything from your favorite flavor of ice cream to your favorite memory with your spouse.

How does the online profile differ from the print profile?

In print, we have a limited amount of space to work with. Online profiles include everything that is in your print profile as well as additional photos and sometimes additional text. Online profiles also include all of your family favorites and a link to your video profile once it is completed.

Do we have to write so much text?

Yes, you must complete at least six individual “In Your Own Words” sections. We want your profile to appeal to a wide variety of birth parents, so we want to make sure we have a good selection of text to choose from. Sometimes, we’ll ask you to expand on something you mentioned briefly because we think it’s a strongpoint. The more text we receive, the better we get to know you and really understand what makes you unique!

How should we send you our photos?

Unless directed otherwise, you should send us your photos via a CD or flashdrive. Please include captions or rename your photo as the caption. Captions help us to know the “who, what and where” in each photo and help us contextualize their importance. We prefer that you send digital files of photos, as they save us time and are typically better quality; if you send hard copies of photos, you will be charged a scan fee.

Do we have to send so many photos?

Yes, for the same reason we require so much text, we also need lots of photos! It’s important that you send us a variety of photos – you and your spouse together, each of you individually, some posed, some action shots of you doing activities, some with your (or other’s) children, some without kids, etc. – so that birth parents can see different facets of your life. It’s also important for photos to be current so that we give an honest portrayal of your life today. We request that you not send photos that are more than three or four years old.

Do we have to fill out all the family favorites?

Yes – or at least as many as you have an answer to. We have had birth parents choose a family for no other reason than they share the same favorite TV show, dream job, etc. We never know what one thing will make a birth mom feel a connection to a family, so we encourage families to fill out the entire list.

Will you help me with grammar/writing?

Yes, we will work with you to make any necessary suggestions/edits to your profile text. We usually ask that families write text revisions themselves, so it is in their own voice, but if you’re really struggling, we can assist you.

How long does the process take?

The profile process can take several weeks to complete. We work to process them has quickly as we can, but we want to make sure we are delivering a really great profile that highlights all the great things about you, while also appealing to a wide variety of birth parents.

Can we update our profile?

Families can make changes to their profile after it has been finalized for a $40 Change Fee. This fee is waived for certain exceptions. You can speak with your Adoptive Family Specialist or a Media Specialist for details.

Can we design our own profile?

No, American Adoptions builds print profiles in a set of templates. This allows us to create a level playing field among adoptive families, while also giving us the flexibility to show each family at their best. Our templates also make it easy for potential birth parents to compare profiles and find specific information that they might be looking for.

We made a profile for another agency. Can we use that profile?

For the same reason as above, we insist that you complete a print profile through American Adoptions.

Why does the printed version of our profile look different from the PDF looked on our computer?

After your print profile is completed, you will be sent printed copies for your personal records/keepsakes. Please note that the colors and brightness of the printed copy may appear different from they do on your computer monitor. This is due to differences in computer monitors’ color output and quality as well as the printing process.

3
Aug

Reader Request: When can we reactivate for another adoption?

My husband and I recently placed with our amazing daughter and have begun discussing our timeline for adopting again. Does American Adoptions have a time frame that we must wait before becoming an actively waiting family again? Also, are any of the previous fees waived or reduced for returning families? – Heather

American Adoptions recommends that families wait at least until their previous adoption is finalized (usually six months to a year) before beginning to become active again for another adoption.

Once you bring your baby home, you will be very busy developing a new daily routine and with trips to the pediatrician for check-ups, middle-of-the-night feedings, visits with family and friends and much more. It is a very special time for you and your spouse (and your other children) to bond with the baby and enjoy one-on-one time with your new family member! By waiting until your adoption is finalized, the amount of time that passes will likely mirror a natural birth order as well. Our agency recommends you take time meanwhile to focus on this baby before you embark on another adoption journey!

When you return to our agency, you’ll need to begin the process all over again. If your home study is less than two years old, you will need an Extensive Home Study Update. If it is more than two years old, you will need to begin a completely new home study. If you used another home study professional, please contact them to initiate the process and follow their requirements. Please note that regardless of your situation, you will need to produce new copies of many supporting documents including criminal and child abuse clearances.

Families who reactivate with American Adoptions are required to complete new print and online profiles to make sure their photos and text are up-to-date and in accordance with any new formatting. These families will also be required to complete a video profile– a relatively new service that showcases families in a whole new way-even if they have done one previously.

Returning families do not pay a pre application fee and will have discounted fees for other items during their adoption process. We also now offer a limited-risk program to minimize a family’s financial loss in the event of a disruption. Read about this program on our website. And speak with an Adoptive Family Coordinator at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more!

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