Prospective Adoptive Parent Profiles #1 – #6
In a post a couple days ago, I described a bit about the process involved in choosing the family who adopted and raised my son. That’s been a wonderful update in the process from the standard just 25 to 30 years ago (not all that long before my adoption), when agency “experts” would decide for a pregnant woman which family would adopt her child.
I have done no research to back this up – not to mention that data related to adoption statistics is extremely difficult to come by and, to my mind, therefore suspect – but I was told that the average woman choosing a semi-open adoption (fully open adoptions were not facilitated through my agency at this time) selected a family from the first three or four profiles they saw.
I thought that was outrageous. What if I didn’t like any of the first three or four families? It wasn’t my deliberate plan to reject those profiles out of hand, as they were shown to me, but that’s what happened. None of them jumped out as the perfect family for my son. You may quarrel with my reasons for rejecting them – and maybe I was searching for something close to perfection – but I just knew they weren’t right.
Here’s a rundown of the first six profiles shown to me. A profile included a “Dear Birthparents” letter, as well as a dossier or résumé, of sorts, with details about the prospective parents, as well as a photo album. Please understand, it’s been more than 22 years, and I still remember all of these details. I didn’t take photocopies of these families’ profiles or write notes. These are the things that stood out in my mind so strongly that I still remember them to this day. Does that mean there’s a chance I’ve erred in my recollections? Of course – but the gist is accurate, especially in terms of my reasons for rejecting them as parents for my son.
This seemed to be a nice enough couple, but they were both fair-haired (I had no idea that my son would be blond) and had something of a milquetoast feel to them. The quote I remember from their profile was, “We don’t let adoption rule our lives.” I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but I understand it now. As I’ve mentioned in a prior post, it used to be that I didn’t know someone for five minutes before they knew I was a birthmother. That is no longer really the case. Until I decided to create this blog, adoption had sort of seeped into the background of my life. It’s much more front and center as I write about it daily for the moment (just ask my husband), but I do understand the sentiment of not eating, breathing, and sleeping adoption. Still, this couple seemed quiet and uninteresting to me.
This was a friendly couple who, in my opinion, were trying too hard. The only thing I really recall was a sentence that went something like, “When Jim tells a story, the children in our family (presumably nieces and nephews) are glued to their seats!” Really? Yuck. So I said no. And then, a month or so later, I was presented with a “new” profile, except that it was Jim and Linda again. How did I know? How many people write “When Jim tells a story, the children in our family are glued to their seats!” in their profiles? So I insisted to Mary, my social worker, that I’d already seen that profile, and she insisted I had not. She patiently explained that the agency took care to be sure there were no duplications. But I was adamant that I had seen that profile previously. Only because I insisted, she researched it and found out that the couple had different last names – not that odd, as my husband and I have different names – but for a reason never explained to me, they’d moved the profile from the husband’s surname to the wife’s surname. I remember thinking they were just trying to sneak it past me the second time, as if I wouldn’t notice. Nevertheless, there were apologies, and we moved on.
There were three parts to a profile and these folks focused on the photo album. This was long before scrapbooking became a national phenomenon, but this woman was just ahead of that curve. The album was stunning. And the dossier was incredible. The couple was mixed – the man was Jewish and the woman was Catholic. They were world travelers and had all kinds of amazing plans for any child who would join their family, in terms of the things he would do and places he would go. They already had plans to build an elaborate indoor playground inside their enormous townhouse. On paper, they were perfect. But there wasn’t a word anywhere in their profile about their personal values. I had to infer, by their omission, that the core elements of interpersonal relationships – communication, honesty, personal growth, joy – were not high on their priority list. As a result, this profile that was so gorgeous on the outside felt empty and soulless to me. Interestingly, I learned a year or so later that a very beautiful model had chosen this couple as the parents for their child. It was probably a perfect fit.
So the point of a profile is for the prospective adoptive family to introduce themselves to prospective birthmoms. I can’t even imagine where you would start to write one. The goal has to be to simultaneously stand out and be yourself. I’m sure some families turn to their social workers for counseling and ideas about what to put into the profile. Remember, this was YEARS before Google and YouTube. Yesterday, I came across this blog post with a list of 25 answers to the question “What do [prospective] birthmothers look for in adoptive parents?” I didn’t read it because I didn’t have 37 extra hours – and my guess is that the answers are as varied as the women who wrote them. What I was looking for was radically different from what that model wanted, so how would our respective answers help the other’s choice of parents? Which brings me to Profile 4. The only thing I remember about it was that the pictures were placed on colored construction paper and the descriptions written in magic marker. I felt as if that family had completely missed the boat and was gearing their profile at the baby, not at me. But perhaps a much younger prospective birthmom would have found them delightful.
Seafoam green. That’s it – the problem and the entirety of what I remember about this family. They were looking to adopt their second child (Check! I wanted a couple who already had a baby!), so the nursery was already complete. The thing is, this nursery was seafoam green, from ceiling to floor. The ceiling, the carpet, the crib, the window shades – the entire fucking room was one horrible shade of green. I mean, as a kid, seafoam green was one of my favorite crayon colors. And it might have worked in an nursery, if it had been broken up with some white, or off white – or ANY other color. I don’t know why – but that was all I needed to know they weren’t the right family for my son.
Most profiles included some photos of the home, so you could get a sense of the house where your child might grow up, along with photos of the family. Some included just the couple; others included photos of extended family, particularly if the child would have lots of first cousins near his age. This profile was notable because there wasn’t a single photo that included people. Not one. They had photos of every room in the house – basement and attic included. And then, on the vary last page, was a handwritten note – an apology – that they had forgotten to take a picture of the downstairs bathroom. To this day, I remember thinking, “Well, I trust you would have cleaned it for the photo shoot. It’s probably a very nice restroom. Next!”
FULL DISCLOSURE: This is not necessarily the exact order in which I saw the profiles – just the order in which I remember them. There were a total of 12, and I remember details about nine of them. I’ve covered six of those nine in this post. The other three stories are significant enough that they warrant their own posts. So, tune in soon for Profile 8. (We’ll just call Profile 7 one of the ones I forgot.)