Guest Blogger–Michelle Cox
Adoption is an incredible blessing and opportunity.
We adopted our first baby this past year, and to say that adoption means a lot to us is an understatement. Adoption is the opportunity to give a child a home, a village, a support system, and unconditional love. Until you have adopted, it is hard to understand the intense emotions involved in the unveiling of this beautiful story God alone designs.
But the actual process of adopting is not always quite so enjoyable.
You have mounds of paperwork, fingerprinting, health screenings, reference letters, the home study, interviews, and the list goes on and on.
In fact, most adoptive couples don’t even know where to start. Let me give you a few things to think about and a few tips that might help you create the perfect book to represent your family.
To start, I think it is essential to realize the purpose of this book.
The book is the first impression a birthmother will have of you and your family. While this puts a lot of pressure on families to make sure their book is great, it is a vital part of the home study process. My advice to adoptive couples is to put some real thought into what the birth mother is thinking or feeling when they put together their book. For the most part, the book is not about where you have come from, but where you are now and where you are headed. This birth mother is going to place her precious baby with you—this book will help give her a picture of how his or her life will be. Focus on what you have to offer to support her child. Your village is essential; your faith is important; your everyday life is important. So really focus on taking a snapshot of your life to present to her.
Next, I think it’s good to plan on how to start putting the book together.
First, ALWAYS begin by asking your agency for details about what your book should be. Unfortunately, couples often spend hours and sometimes even lots of money putting together a book to find out it doesn’t meet the agency’s requirements. Go to them with these specific questions:
1) How many pages should it be?
2) Do we need physical books printed? If so, what kind and how many?
3) Are there any specific sections we need in it? (ie. Birth mother letter, our story, extended family, our promise, etc.)
4) Should there be a lot of text or not much (some agencies want little to none, some like a lot)
Remember that your agency knows what the birthmothers they work with are looking for.
They work with these women daily, so trust what they have to say about your book. Some agencies seem more “picky” than others, but they know what works best in their area.
The next step is to figure out how you want to go about creating and printing your book.
If you are creative and want to design it yourself, get a good design program like Pages or InDesign, or you can find sites like Canva that have great formatting ability.
If you want to use a professional printer like Mixbook or Shutterfly, those are good options to create and print the books. Just do your research on how your final product will come because most of those big printers require certain page counts and that your book is hardback.
Lastly, you could consider having someone create your book for you. There are various companies around that are starting to specialize in the service. AnythingButOrdinaryLife.com is one of those companies, but there are others as well.
Once you know how you will produce your book, the next step is to organize your pictures.
I highly encourage you to set up a folder system for each layout spread you will have. Typically you will have the following: front cover, birth mother letter, our story, about her, about him, about other children, our families, our home, what we do for fun, our promise, back cover. Of course, that can vary, but if you start organizing pictures into those categories, that helps a lot. The more images, the better. This will help you find the ones that look the best on each page.
Then, you will start writing a little bit of text for each spread.
I usually provide my clients with a worksheet that asks them questions and guides them to begin thinking through their writing. Less is more here. You don’t want to overwhelm the birthmother with information.
After you have gathered all this, you might want to search the internet for designs and layouts. A simple “adoption profile book design” search in Google or Pinterest can help you find what you think fits your style.
While the profile book can seem like a daunting task, it can be manageable if you take it one step at a time. And if you want someone else to design it for you to make that stress away, there are affordable options.