Building Your Family’s Adoption Profile
September 27, 2022 – The time has come, you’re finally ready to take the plunge into the world of Adoption! While you set aside time for training, background checks, paperwork, paperwork, and well…more paperwork, this is also a great time to start thinking about your family’s story and how you’d like to share information with professionals and youth who may be considering you as their no matter what family.
How you share information about your family may be one of the most important steps in engaging with a youth who is probably pretty overwhelmed and feeling uncertain about the idea of adoption and even envisioning themselves building a relationship with another family.
There is no perfect profile, because there is NO perfect family! Embracing this will go a long way in helping youth finding safety and comfort as they consider joining your family. It’s important to remember when a youth is introduced to your family through your profile they are trying to picture what life would be like for them as a member of your family. Youth often tell us they “just had a feeling” or “knew they were the one” when they found the family they wanted to be a part of.
Here are some ways to be sure you are representing your family in a way that resonates with both youth, and the professionals working on their behalf.
Be choosy with your language. Using descriptive or labelling words like foster child, son, daughter, etc. can be off-putting and even scary to a youth who is feeling unsure about adoption. Try out more general greetings such as “Hey there” or “hello” to get off to a good start!
Use bold titles and captions. Be sure to let the youth know who you are, and anyone else that plays an important role in your family’s life. For example, if you share a photo of you holding your niece in a photo be sure it’s clear that you don’t have children but spend time with your niece often.
Go easy on your own struggles. While sharing information, or challenges your family has experienced may help a youth find common ground they’re likely not interested in hearing about struggles with infertility, and your family being unable to have children of “your own”. Try to remember their sense of worth, and help them see themselves as a positive addition to your family.
Show your diversity. Youth in foster care often come diverse backgrounds, whether that be different ethnicity, race, or just a different culture and environment than your family. Convey an understanding that the way they are used to celebrating holidays, birthdays, and other major events might look different than your family but you’re willing to embrace their practices and integrate them into the family events.
Make room. If you have other children at home it’s important to include them in your profile, while also communicating there is space in your heart and home for another sibling. If your other children are old enough, find ways for them to say hi and share a bit about themselves.
Let photos and videos tell your story. It’s important for youth to get a feel for a day in the life of your family. It can be challenging to get that perspective through words and notions. Make sure the photos you choose are clear and not distorted or blurry. If possible, crop your photos to be sure faces are the primary focus of the photo rather than busy scenic backgrounds or large groups of people. One exception may be travel photos or a photo that tells a story and gives the youth a glimpse into your life and how you spend your time.
Be honest. Your profile will be reviewed by youth and professionals who want to know the real you. There is no perfect parent, or family. Everyone has challenges, complicated relationships, and choices we wish we would have made differently. These life experiences are what help mold realistic, patient, creative, resilient and trustworthy caregivers for youth who come from hard places.
If you’re looking for ideas, or needing to feel more connected to youth looking for their forever family here are some great resources to get your creative juices flowing!
Kristalle Hedrick, LMSW
Vice President of Kansas Programs, FosterAdopt Connect
Former Kansas Foster Parent, and Adoptive Parent