This is the fourth and final part of a four-part blog series on marketing yourself with your adoption profile book. It was written by John Yonkoski who is an adoptive father and marketing professional.
Know your Audience:
It seems a lot of people I speak with about our adoption assume our birth mom is a 16 year old girl whose parents made the decision for her. That’s not the case at all. She’s a 30 year old, Mother of four, taking college classes online while the kids sleep. She probably would have parented if her husband hadn’t filed for divorce.
Like everyone else, I also made some assumptions about the birthparents that would view our adoption profile. I figured it’s probably going to be a female (possibly a couple). I knew they would be Caucasian (at the time, we were specifically seeking a Caucasian newborn). I figured alcohol (people drinking in photos) probably wouldn’t be an issue – but – could be a deal breaker (on the possibility there were abuse issues somewhere in the family). I assumed she wasn’t drinking or doing drugs while she was pregnant (since we were specifically seeking a baby that hadn’t been exposed to these substances). I figured they probably don’t have a ton of money. I assumed they would be less educated than my wife and I, but didn’t assume they would be incapable of comprehending big words. I assumed they would look at a stack of 10 profiles and pick three they liked (strictly based on the cover) and that if it was too wordy, they might set it down. I figured they value family and friends. I figured they value stability – both in terms of our marriage and having a place we call home for the foreseeable future (particularly since we were seeking an open adoption).
So, how did these assumptions affect our adoption profile? We axed any photos where people were drinking. We wanted to show that we were financially secure, yet not superficial and egregious (we spoke a lot about how important relationships, rather than money, were to us). We didn’t want to appear as some condescending authorative figure by “dumbing down” the way we spoke and the words we used. We used lots of photos. Had we been open to other races, I would have included more photos of my diverse group of friends (I would consider that critical). We showcased the time and money we’ve invested in remodeling our home.
You may not agree with the assumptions I made and your assumptions may be different. As it turns out, mine were spot on with our birth mother. From our profile, she really connected with us. It’s no surprise, our profile was written just for her.
If you’re working with an agency, ask questions about the birthparents they work with. Reflect back on the decisions you made when completing your grids. Try to get an understanding of who will be reading your profile and tailor it to their needs. Remember – you’re writing the profile for the birthparents, not for you. Their opinion matters, not yours.
Get meaningful feedback from others. If you ask someone, “how do you like it?” they’ll respond with “it looks good”. Instead, say “tell me three things you would change”. In my case, my Sister in-law (who’s a graphic designer) opined that it was a little (not a lot) busy. Her suggestion was to spread it out a little more and have more pages.
From a graphic design perspective, she’s right. However, although looks are important for a profile – they’re not everything. Had we taken her advice, we would have had to remove some of our content (otherwise it would be too many pages). I appreciated her insight, but didn’t make any major changes to our profile.
My point is, don’t take any feedback as Gospel, but do consider the responses. Revise as appropriate, but don’t submit a profile that hasn’t been meaningfully critiqued.
Provide Bight Size Pieces of Information:
Have you ever gone to a website – and – before you know it, you’ve been there for 20 minutes? It wasn’t your intent, but it happened. Why do some sites have this affect? Because they give you a bit of info – you like it and want more. So, you click and get more. The process repeats. The site literally sucks you in.
Their secret is that they don’t just give you it all on one page. Because, you would see all the material and think “I don’t have time for this” and leave. Don’t make the mistake of overwhelming your reader by sharing your life story on the first page (or any page for that matter).
Similarly, give them the good stuff right up front – what you really, really want them to know. Put the less important stuff towards the end. For example, the details about our families were the last pages of our profile. Why? Because birthparents care less about our families than they do about us. It was clear we had family, that they live nearby, and that we are close with them. However, what they do for a living and their personalities is less relevant and requires words.
Describing our families is going to require space – I want the “premium space” upfront devoted to us. My rationale was that if they made it to the end of the profile, they were interested in us and would be willing to read about them. Equally likely, they might not even see the need to.
In our agency, birthparents are presented “up to ten profiles” at one sitting and they’re not required to give them all equal time. They’re not required to review them completely. Play it safe by assuming they have short attention spans. Don’t blow the chance for them to get to know you.
The arrangement of the pages (and the content) is so important that I would say that if our profile were read from back to front, it would have been terrible and uninteresting (even though everything else is the same). I doubt our birthmother would have read much of it and wouldn’t have taken the time to learn about us.
Again, best stuff up front with the profile becoming increasingly wordy as the reader becomes increasingly interested in what you have to say. Your goal is to suck the reader in.
Don’t be a ”Debbie Downer”
Life isn’t all rosy and perfect for any of us. But, there are some things you just don’t really share with everyone. And, when you do share it – you don’t really want to agonize about it and bring others down. The same goes for your profile – most people know better than to divulge all the details about a marriage that ended with a bitter divorce and ugly custody battle.
In adoption profiles, the most common example I’ve seen is infertility. It seems many profiles hope to get empathy from the birthparents in hopes of being selected. It is fine (recommended even) that you share it, but keep it positive. Talk about what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, or how it opened your eyes to the beauty of adoption. Don’t agonize over it.
After all, any infertility issues you may have experienced will make much more sense when you meet your little one. Trust me.
Need help with your profile? Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoption STAR does not guarantee the services of third party providers.
To receive a downloadable PDF with all four parts, please email John Yonkoski