Birthmom Letter Guide (Part 3)

Other things to think about

There are a number of other issues which you might want to address in your letter. Do not use the following as a check list. In providing information about yourselves, if addressing these issues would give the birth mother a better idea of what you are like, include them. If not, then do not address these issues:

  • How did you feel when you found out you could not give birth to a child?
  • How did you feel when you found out you could have children by adoption?
  • Why is being a parent important to you?
  • What do you hope to offer your child? (i.e. discuss extended families, spiritual and ethical upbringing, financial security, college education, much love and security, etc.)
  • Talk about your hopes and aspirations generally, and, particularly, your feelings about each other.
  • Address the issue of presenting the adoption in a positive way to the child, and the birth parents' sacrifice for the child's future.

The two most common mistakes which couples make in writing their letters are:

  • They spend too much time talking about their relationship with other children. In fact, one client submitted a draft of their letter in which they made reference to children in literally every paragraph. Even if you spend every waking moment with children (nieces, nephews, neighborhood children, god children, and children of your friends), a birth mother will never believe that is the case. In order for you to be successful, she must believe that you are portraying an accurate representation of yourselves and not that you are just telling her everything she wants to hear.
  • Along the same lines, the other common mistake is that couples try too hard to make themselves seem perfect. I am not suggesting that you show her your “warts”, but to say, for example, “No matter where we go we are always holding hands” is just not believable (even if it is true).

Using pictures

A birthmom will be naturally curious. What do the would-be parents of my child look like?

Photographs benefit the couples who are more photogenic than the ones who are not. If you do not consider yourself particularly photogenic, do not include photographs. However, understand that a couple whose letter does not include photos is at a disadvantage. If you are concerned that the photos will give away that you are older, select photos of you being active. Likewise if you could lose a few pounds do not select photos of you baking or feasting at Thanksgiving.

If photographs are used, they should be more casual than formal. They would show you involved in various activities, your home, your pets, you on vacation. The pictures themselves convey a very strong message about the type of people you are. If you have a way of including a caption with the photographs, that’s all the better.

Photographs can help you make a relevant point. For example, if you talk about going to the beach as one of your favorite things to do, a photograph of you on the beach placed at that point in the letter is very effective. If you are talking about your pet, a picture of the pet at that point helps to tell the story.

In closing your letter

Tell the birth mother how she can contact you directly or learn more by calling Steve and Joel Kirsh. If you have an "800" number, include it along with the statement and be sure to mention a time when she would have the best chance of reaching you at home. Also give her Steve and Joel’s telephone number, (800) 333-5736. Explain that if she calls after regular business hours, their answering service will page them and they will call her back as soon as possible. Additionally, assure her that neither you nor they will try to influence or pressure her. Finally, assure her that she will not obligate herself to proceed with an adoption by calling. The Kirshs and you will seek to provide her the information she needs to make a knowing, well-informed decision.

The final polish

One of the best ways to know whether your letter is effective is to read it aloud, first to your spouse, then to a candid friend. You, your spouse and friend will immediately notice what sounds awkward, stiff or just not like you. Mark those portions and go back over them later when you have some time for further reflection. Don’t try to reach consensus or debate how best to say it.

Once you’ve finished the letter, sleep on it. Read it again in the morning. It’s amazing how many little gremlins you can catch that way before sending your letter.

Working with Dick Weiss and Sally Altman

Writing and storytelling is a skill acquired over many years. This guide offers a bit of a shortcut and can be particularly effective if you are already quite proficient as a writer. But it’s not a cookbook recipe in which you’ll instantly bake a pie as tasty as Julia Child’s. If you lack confidence in your writing ability; are swamped with many other things to do, or just want to be sure you are sending the best letter possible, consider working with Dick and Sally

Dick is a journalist by training, a former editor and writing coach at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is particularly skilled at profile writing and storytelling and has won awards in his field.

Sally, who has a Master of Public Health degree, has written dozens of successful birthmom letters for adoptive parents.

The two began working with Kirsh & Kirsh clients in the fall of 2003. The adoptive parents send pictures and a draft of a letter and/or biographical information. (Home studies often prove useful.)

  • Sally and Dick review the material then send an e-mail with questions that will provide even more information to enhance the letter.
  • Dick or Sally then either writes or refines the letter and sends it to the adoptive parents for their review.
  • Based on the response, they polish the letter further, add pictures and send it to both the adoptive parents and Steve Kirsh for a final review.
  • The final version is then sent to Kirsh & Kirsh.

If you are interested in such a service, you can contact Dick and Sally at or by calling 314-725-4233.

Recorded message for outgoing voice mail

If you have opted for the Kirsh & Kirsh Directed approach and will not be doing any of your own networking, your outgoing message can be as simple as: You have reached Tom and Mary. We are sorry that we missed your call, please leave us or message or try us back later. The best time to reach us is ________. This can be on your home phone with an 800# assigned to it. It is not necessary to leave a lengthy message because any birth mother who might call would have already read your dear birth mother letter.

On the other hand, if you are doing any networking or advertising on your own, you will need a separate line with a longer message. In recording the outgoing message you must understand that if your message is boring, the birth mother will hang up the phone without leaving a message. You have a better chance to get her to listen to your message, if your message is something like:

Thank you so much for calling. Please do not hang up! We are sorry that we missed your call. There is so much that we would like to tell you. We have left this short message to give you an idea of what we are like in hopes that after you listen to our message, you will want to know more about us. At the end of the message, we will tell you how you can obtain more information.

For now, we would like to tell you . . . (Include the two or three most important things you would want her to know about you. In other words, if you could only tell her two or three things about yourselves, tell it to her at this point in your recording. Give her a "taste" of what you are like, so that she will be interested in taking another "bite".)

If you would like to know more about us, you may do one of the following: (1) You may call us back. The best time to reach us is _____; (2) You may leave your first name and telephone number and a time for us to call you back, or (3) You may call our attorneys, Steve and Joel Kirsh at (800) 333-5736. (You should be sure to repeat our telephone number on the recorded message, so that if she misses the number the first time, she does not have to listen to the entire message to hear the number again.)

If it is important for your letter to be written in a conversational, down-to-earth manner, it is even more important when you record your message that it sounds like you are talking to the birth mother rather than reading to her. Think back to high school speech classes. The speeches that were read were very boring even if the content was good. How you sound to her, the tone of your voice, your enthusiasm, your interest and excitement, accounts for probably 95% of the effectiveness of your recorded message.

When you record your message, do so as if the birth mother was in the room with you and you were talking to her. I know it will be difficult to do that, but if you are able to do so, your message will be much more sincere and better received.

Additionally, when recording your message, speak closely to the microphone in the answering machine to avoid the "tunnel" effect.  

In Closing

John and Heather's babyWe’ve shared a lot of important information with you knowing that it will be difficult to absorb at a time when there may be many cross currents in your life. Always remember that you are doing a wonderful thing not only for yourselves but for your community and the nation by providing a safe and happy home for a child. We know that you have a wonderful story about your family to share with a birthmother. Let us know what we can do to help you tell it.

Read a sample birthmom letter

E-mail Sally & Dick at