Your Adoption Profile Book – How to Get Started

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – despite having nearly 20 years of corporate writing experience, my adoption profile book was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever written. A ghost-written letter from the CEO is nothing compared to a heartfelt letter to potential birth parents. I’ve never burned dinner to a crisp while being distracted by work, but I did one night while consumed with my book.

Helping you save your dinner and your sanity, I share a step-by-step framework and tips for starting and completing your adoption profile book.

1: Establish a Goal Time Frame for Your Adoption Profile Book

Determine a date by which you would like your book to be complete, a goal for how many hours you want to spend and when. For example, you may choose to dedicate a couple of hours every Saturday over a few weekends. I personally find it helpful to give myself time to step away from projects like this and revisit them with a fresh eye and mind. Others may prefer to spend one weekend and get it knocked out. The point is, time commitment goals will help you from procrastinating as well as burning yourself out.

2: Make a List of Key Points

Start with a list of important messages or themes you want to communicate. This will help you organize your thoughts, get an outline started and ensure you don’t leave anything out of the final product. My list looked something like this:

  • We have a big family and most of them live close by
  • We hope to adopt more than one child
  • Education is important to us and we plan to choose schools wisely
  • My husband and I share a love for the beach and being on the water
  • We have a dog who’s like a family member to us
  • Etc.

3: Identify Your Sections

Taking your points list above into consideration, make a list of pages/sections that should be included in your book. Not every point will need a section devoted to it, but skim your list and identify which ones do. For example, family was a point that warranted its own section for us, whereas hoping to adopt more than one child was just a point to be made somewhere in the book.

In addition to your points list, consider these standard adoption profile book elements:

  • Letter to birth parents
  • Your story as a couple – how you met, how you arrived at the decision to adopt, how you like to spend your time together, etc.
  • Your stories as individuals – your interests, hobbies, career, etc.
  • Details about your home environment, neighborhood, etc.

4: Create an Outline

Determine how many pages you can/want to devote for each section, and start putting them in order, keeping the concept of spreads in mind (if you decide to devote only one page to a certain section, you will need another one-page section to adjoin it).

You may find that you need to fill space in order to complete the spreads for your book (we did). Here are some ideas should you need additional pages:

  • Pages or spreads dedicated to key hobbies and interests
  • A summary page that highlights what you offer as parents
  • Pages or spreads dedicated to key life events, such as your wedding day
  • Pages or spreads to give insight into your friend circle
  • Pages or spreads dedicated to holidays, family traditions, etc.
  • A “thank you” page at the end

Ultimately, our outline and 20-page layout looked like this:

  1. Letter to birth parents (one page)
  2. Our story (spread)
  3. About me (spread)
  4. About my family (spread)
  5. About my husband (spread)
  6. About his family (spread)
  7. Our dog/furbaby (spread)
  8. Our wedding (one page)
  9. Our home (one page)
  10. Our friends (spread)
  11. Summary/our intentions as parents (one page)
  12. Thank you for considering us (one page)

5: Choose a Service and Start Designing

There are numerous photo book printing services out there to consider. Most will have promotions and coupons (some up to half off), so be on the lookout and try to time your order accordingly. I used Shutterfly, but here are several others that come recommended from other adoptive families:

Most sites include templates to make designing your book easier, but I apparently like to make everything more complicated than it needs to be and ended up creating mine from scratch. If you go this route, do yourself a favor and choose a general color palette, fonts and the design embellishments you like before you get started. Play around with them on a test page and make sure you are happy with the look before moving forward designing the additional pages.

6: Review and Finalize Your Adoption Profile Book

Be sure to revisit your key points identified in step 2 to ensure you captured it all. Once a draft of your book is complete, consider a review by friends, family, your adoption agency or attorney, a third-party consultant, etc. A perspective from someone who isn’t so emotionally close to your adoption process will help you identify any weaknesses, missing pieces, errors or details that need clarification.

And that’s it! Easy as pie, right? In my case, burnt pie. I hope this framework at least makes it easier on you. Happy adoption profile booking, and best of luck in your journey!

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