Birthmom Letter Guide (Part 2)

Begin at the beginning:

Good stories begin at the beginning. You choose where to start. Your story could start with your parents and the way they raised you. It could even start with grandma and grandpa. Perhaps they were immigrants and came to America to forge a better life for their family.

Or it could start when the two of you first met.

It really doesn’t matter where you start except that your letter from this point should always move forward in time to describe how your family came together to form the kind of environment that will provide a happy place for the child you hope to adopt.

Here are some key ideas to include in your story as it moves along through time.

How were you raised? This can give a birth mom some insight into Grandparentswhat kind of parents you might become. Use this as opportunity to share an anecdote or two about your upbringing. One adoptive parent told how a mere stare from her mother could bring her in line after she came in 15 minutes late from a date one night. This was a nice way of conveying how you that parent grew up with lots of structure in her home, something that may impress a birthmom.

How did you meet your spouse? What drew you to him or her? This is an excellent way of telling the birthmom about your spouse’s best qualities – but in a natural way without lots of platitudes. Instead of saying, Tom is the sweetest, most caring man …. You might begin like this … I had known Tom only three weeks when my brother, George, was critically injured in car accident. After I called him to tell him I would have to break our date and why, Tom arrived at the hospital within minutes asking what he could do for me. Well, my parents and I were beside ourselves and we could hardly talk. But Tom figured it out. He gently took my keys and drove home to make sure my dog got fed and walked; he drove by my parents house and checked to make sure my mom had remembered to turn off the stove because she always thinks she left it on and then he returned and held my hand for like 12 hours, until we were sure George was going to be all right. Later he handled all the paperwork with the insurance company. Tom says anyone would do that sort of stuff for people they care about. But I haven’t met too many people like Tom who seem to know just what to do when the chips are down.

Notice that along with telling a story, you are writing very informally… using words like “stuff” and referring to your mom’s foibles like thinking that she’s always leaving the stove on. These little touches will help make you seem more “real’’ to a birthmom.

One way to achieve this informal style is to pretend that you are sharing these stories with an old classmate, someone who knows and likes you, but hasn’t seen you for awhile.

Talking about each other

Heather

At some point in your letter you will want to switch from the “we’’ – Tom and Mary – to the first person – Tom or Mary.

Tom might write a section about Mary and what a wonderful mom she’ll be. Tom knows this because he’s seen her interact with nieces and nephews. Or he might describe how she’s coached the girl’s basketball team at the Y.

Then it’s Mary’s turn. She might describe how Tom started a youth program at his bank. Or how he joined a big brother organization. Rather than merely describe the big brother activities, she might share a particular episode that showed how Tom cemented his relationship with the child he was mentoring.

When you write about each other, it presents an opportunity to brag a bit without sounding egotistical. But don’t be shy about talking about yourself. The best way to do this is tell a story that represents who you are and where your values lie. Here’s how one would-be adoptive parent did it:

As a teenager, I set my sights on a private, Catholic high school, believing that a high school diploma from that particular school would ease my way into a career in law. However, the school’s tuition was beyond the reach of my family. At my parents’ suggestion and encouragement, I earned that tuition money by washing dishes and busing tables during my freshman and sophomore years in a public high school. At the end of my sophomore year, my parents took me to meet with the principal of the private school, to discuss my admission. I sat before him, in my best suit, my parents by my side, and told him of my dream of attending his school. The principal discouraged me from applying. He suggested that my public school education wasn’t rigorous enough for me to keep up with my classmates at his school. He doubted that I understood how much work I was facing.

I changed his mind. I pulled out the shoebox of cash I’d earned over two years of hard, dirty work. It held $2,400, in ten and twenty dollar bills. I was accepted, and got grades that earned me admission to a number of good colleges.

Other children

Grant %26 BetseyIf you have other children, be sure to talk about your feelings about them and the activities in which they are involved. The best way the birth mother has to judge you as parents for the child she is carrying is to know what kind of parents you already are. However, you must be careful about overstating your feelings. If a birth mother were to believe that you have no more room in your heart for another child, she will not consider you as adoptive parents. If the child( ren ) you already have came into your family by birth rather than through adoption, you must also dispel a concern which she might have that you would not love the child you adopt as much as the child(ren) to whom you gave birth.

Here’s how one family discussed their child in a compelling way.

We considered ourselves very fortunate to have Dylan so quickly. Maybe it was God's way of giving Hugh back his child who died at the age of 6 weeks so many years ago. We had actually talked about adopting before getting married. When Dylan came along so quickly we just put it out of our minds and figured we would be able to have another child without difficulty.  But then came several rounds of unsuccessful fertility treatments and a tubal pregnancy. We decided adoption made much more sense for my health and our family.

For now we are showering all our attention on Dylan. She loves going to football games with her dad and doing crafts with her mom. She’s crazy about Power Puff girls.

She is a wonderful little girl with lots of friends. What she would like most is a younger brother or sister -- as she readily tells everyone she meets. However, she has informed us diapers are yukky and she won’t be changing any. Not a problem, we have told her.

One other point about other children: Telling a birth mom that you think it is important for your child to have a brother or sister is not compelling to a birthmom. Her goal is to make her child’s life better not to make your child’s life better. Instead, talk about how important it is for children to have siblings so that she also sees the benefit to her child.

Finally, here’s a subtle but important point. Avoid using the expression “our own child”. Too many birthmoms (and for that matter, society in general, but that is beyond the scope of this article) associate “own” with a child by birth. They may think that you are making a value judgment; and that if your birth child is your “own” child, the child you adopt would be something less than your “own” child. If a birth mom ever thought you considered the child you want to adopt as second best, you will never be successful.

Share your interests and passions

One of the ways to get a birth mother to select you is for her to find some connection with you. Sometimes that is because of the impression she has of your relationship, but other times, it is because she shares a common interest with you.

As your story moves along, let the birthmom know about your hobbies and interests and how they enhance your life as a family. Some families love sports and make it a way of bringing people together. One family puts on plays. Many families celebrate the holidays in unique ways.

Be sure that you explain that the child you adopt will be part of those activities. More than one birth mom has said that she passed on a family because they seemed too busy with all of their activities and could not imagine how they would have time for a child. If the child would be part of the activities, problem solved.

Beyond the warm and fuzzy

One other very important aspect of your letter is to show the birth mother what you have to offer her child beyond the “warm and fuzzy”. You do not want to sound materialistic, but one of the reasons a birth mother is choosing adoption for her child is that she wants more for her child than she can provide herself. For that reason, you need to specify what it is you offer the child in addition to love and security.

Here’s how Tamara and Raymond put it:

Not only do we have an abundance of love to give our children, but we can give them many things to encourage them to develop their interests, skills, and talents. We can provide them with the best education available. Because Raymond does most of his work at home, he is with Dylan all day long, until Tamara returns from work. Tamara works part time, so one of us can be with Dylan—and any future child — almost all the time.

Earlier in their letter, the two noted that they lived in a spacious home; that they take interesting vacations to far-off climes and can’t wait to take their child on these excursions. Remember, it isn’t the money or the possessions that matter as much as how you will use them in the best interest of the child.

Part 3

 
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