You’ve joined an adoption agency and completed the paper work. Now it’s time to get the word out about your adoption! Your Adoption Letter (AKA Dear Birthparent Letter) is one of the main tools that you’ll use to reach out to birthmothers and start building your family. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate the process and craft an effective message.
Do Use Positive Language
Though you probably mean well, the words that you use to communicate to birthmothers may not come across as favorably as you think. Get in the habit of using positive adoption language. To present yourself/yourselves as warm and inviting people to a potential birthparent, be mindful of words that may have unintentional connotations.
Don’t Use Presumptuous Language
It’s natural to want to find the right words to say to a birthmother, however, don’t assume that you already know their story because they are considering open adoption. Every birthmother’s story is different.
Do Let Your Agency Know if You Have Concerns; They’re Here to Help
Your adoption agency shares your goals of getting into circulation as quickly as possible, so that you can adopt. Work together as a team! If there is feedback that you are not comfortable with, or you feel that your letter doesn’t sound like you, then let your counselor or staff member know so that they can work with you to bring more of yourself into the letter. Don’t wait until after your letter is distributed to raise any questions you may have.
Don’t Rush Through the Process
It can be tempting to rush through the process, in order to get into circulation as quickly as possible, while overlooking important items. Did your agency suggest trying another shoot for your photos? If so, then there may be some rationale behind that suggestion. If it’s feasible for you to do so in a reasonable amount of time, then take the time to get the best photos possible to help your letter shine. If it may be a stretch, talk to your agency about the comments, and see how they can help you to best make your existing content work for your budget and schedule.
Do Take Plenty of Photos to Illustrate Your Story
As you’re writing your letter, think about the activities that you mention sharing with your child. It’s great to talk about these in the letter, but you could strengthen your message if you can show it. It’s not always easy to get a great shot of you in action, so be sure to take plenty of photos to help you get a great shot. After your photo shoot, go through the photos, and select the best ones to send to your agency. Action shots work best. Also, if you have photos of you and a child, be sure that your faces are visible and that there are great smiles on everyone’s face.
Don’t Forget that One Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
Be sure that the photos you use in your letters do not contain any questionable backgrounds or objects that may not viewed favorably, such as signs or banners in the background, drinks, or containers of alcohol. In photos with children, be sure that the child looks comfortable with you. Nothing makes this more obvious than a smile! If the child looks like he or she is trying to run away from you or looks afraid, that might send an unintentional message.
Do Read It Aloud
Once you’ve written your text, read it to yourself. Read it to your friends. Read it to a young person. Does it sound conversational and down to earth? Could a young person aged 18-25 clearly understand what you’re talking about? Does it use appropriate grammar and punctuation? If your letter sounds like a textbook or real estate ad, consider revising.
Don’t Be A Downer
Don’t mention issues of loss, hardship, or infertility in the letter. This could take away from the overall warmth of your letter and make it a pain to read. Remember that the point is to welcome the birthmother, help her to feel at ease, and encourage her to contact you. If there is a family member that has passed on that you want to mention, give it a more positive spin. For example, mention honoring or celebrating that person’s memory through the activities that you take part in, rather than dwelling on their loss or sadness.
Do Follow the Guidelines
Be sure that you have followed your agency’s guidelines for preparing your letter, and submitted all of the necessary components in order to avoid extra steps, or having to go back and repeat parts of the process. If there is a certain part of the process that you’re waiting for feedback on, ask what else you could be working on in the meantime so that you continue making progress.
Don’t Do It All By Yourself
If you’re a couple, the letter should be a team project. Work together! Even if you choose to play to one another’s strengths during the process, be sure that the text, including your contact information, reflects both of you, and doesn’t cause a potential birthmother to see you as two entities rather than one family. For example, instead of using JohnDoe@gmail.com, use JohnandJaneAdopt@gmail.com or TheDoeFamily@gmail.com.
If you don’t have expertise in designing publications, consider consulting a graphic design professional. The Dear Birthparent Letter is such a vital outreach tool that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Now is not the time to test out the spiffy new software that you just bought for your home computer or to realize your dreams of becoming an artist. If you’ve never done professional level work, then more work will be required of the agency to help make your letter presentable, and this could contribute to your wait time. Ask your agency if it has free design templates available, experts on staff that can assist you, or a referral list of professional designers that may be able to create a custom-design for you at a discounted rate. Independent Adoption Center offers all of these resources to our clients. To get started on your adoption give us a call at 800-877-OPEN.