I wanted to share today how excited I am to finally have our adoption profile books, video and web profile completed! In case you’re unfamiliar with the matching phase of an adoption; agencies use what they refer to as profile books, profile videos and web profiles to help match adoptive families with a birth mother.
When a birth mother comes into an agency, they meet with a social worker to discuss their hopes and expectations in an adoptive family situation. The caseworker will then share with her, the profile books of several families that meet her list of requirements or that the social worker thinks would make a good match. The birth mother may look through a stack of any number of books before selecting one and requesting to meet the family.
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So… no pressure,
but your profile book is kind of a big deal
We’re trying hard to stay chill. Our caseworker has done a really good job of putting things into perspective for us and calming our fears. Ultimately, we trust that God has a plan and know there is no reason to panic. We’ve been told there is really no way of knowing what things will stand out to a birth mother and why she will choose or reject certain families. You will never know exactly what she is looking for or what little details will stand out.
Our goal is to share a window into our lives and wait for the right person to come along that feels at home.
I have thought long and hard about exactly how much of our book and profile to share with the world, but I really want to be as helpful as possible for anyone else that may be starting the adoption process.
When I started working on our profile book, the first thing I did was google and pinterest search the words “adoption profile book.” I wanted to know what other people were doing and what they thought was important to include.
How do you summarize your entire life and depict it in a 20 page book? How do you “sell” yourself to someone you don’t know, while still keeping it real and genuine? What things do you include and what do you keep out? How much do you share, and how much is too much?
I started working on our profile book last August. No joke. The adoption process itself is so long, I knew I didn’t need to feel rushed. I started by creating a folder on my computer titled “profile book.” Then, anytime I came across a picture or video clip I thought would be good to include, I’d drag and drop it there.
After a lot of looking around, I realized that Shutterfly had the best layouts and styles available to achieve the look I was going for. They have an actual Profile Book Layout you can choose, which gives you a great start. I tweaked a few things to make it more my style, but overall, I was appreciative of their suggestions for layouts and pages to include.
Tips and Suggestions
Here are a few of the tips and things I tried to keep in mind after viewing several other books and online profiles. I made a lot of mental notes from an outsider’s perspective on the things that jumped out at me, turned me off or seemed overdone. Here they are:
- Go with Shutterfly.com As I mentioned before, they have the best option for an actual “adoption profile book” template. Find it here!
- Keep things clean! I went with an all white background and simple layouts. Too many embellishments and color can look tacky and dated.
- Limit the number of pictures per page. The max number of images I included on a page was 4. One of the things I really noticed after looking at other books, was how quickly my eyes bounced around a page and got board if there were too many pictures. You might think, the more the better. You might think, that’s a really good picture of myself, how do I choose? But to a stranger, less is more. Instead of one really-good picture and several kind-of-good pictures, just narrow it down and use the best one.
- Things to include: Pictures of your home and neighborhood, friends, family, daily life, favorite things to do together, trips, etc. The idea is to give an accurate glimpse into your life. One thing I specifically wanted to convey, was our desire to raise our kids with an appreciation for diversity and community. I want our birth mom to know that her heritage, race, or nationality, no matter how different from our own, will be celebrated. Even though we live in a predominately white suburb, we plan on seeking out and surrounding ourselves with a support system that makes our adopted child feel loved and at home.
- Keep pictures light and bright! Do not use dark, blurry or low resolution images. Being a photographer, I’m a little extra picky when it comes to the lighting and quality of the pictures I’ll use. Not everyone has access to fancy photography equipment or professional photos. But, anyone can be on the lookout for good lighting. Good, natural light will always look best. If you need to, ask a friend to snap some pictures outside. Or, schedule an appointment with a photographer and be sure to ask for written permission to use their photos in your book and online.
- Keep text short and to the point. This was probably the hardest part for me. Incase you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to ramble. When reviewing other profile books, I noticed that people seem to include a lot of text. The tendency is to freak out and think you’ve got to tell this person everything you can think to tell them while you have their attention. The problem is… you already lost their attention. Highlight the important things and leave the rest for another time.
- Steer clear of personal information. This is something your case worker will talk with you about. Do not include your last name, address, phone number, email, business location, etc. These are things you may choose to share later on, but a profile book is not the place.
- Include the general information your specific agency requires. Our agency specifically asks for a letter to the birth mother on the first page and a statement of faith on the last page. Your agency may have other specific requirements.
- Watch for coupons! Profile books can be expensive. Our agency requests 4 books be sent to them, plus I wanted one for ourselves. That could have easily been a huge expense. I was grateful to have a 50% off coupon show up in the mail, which I tucked away until placing our order!
Once our profile books were ordered, I began to finalize our profile video to include in our online profile. Once our home study has been finalized, our online profile will be publically viewable on Bethany’s website and searchable by birth moms in all 50 states. Though it’s more common to be chosen by a birth mom in our own county, we’re open to an out-of-state adoption as well.
I used my same general criteria in creating a video. I wanted it short, to the point, bright photos and happy music. I didn’t want to sit down and do a live recording specifically for the profile video. I had found too many profile videos on youtube that looked stiff and awkward, and I pictured myself being the same way. Instead, I created a slideshow, added some royalty free background music and did a voiceover. The video didn’t take me nearly as long to complete as the profile book.
My photos and video are all taken using my Canon 70D DSLR or my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone. I have a small lapel mic (find it here) that I used for the voiceover and the only video program I used was Windows Movie Maker! Fancy video people will probably laugh at my use of Movie Maker… but I don’t care. It does everything I need it to do and it’s free!
If you have any questions about adoption or creating a profile book, please don’t hesitate to ask! Be sure to go HERE to read more about our adoption journey. Subscribe in the sidebar for email updates.