In compiling your portfolio, you'll want to communicate some basics about your life, such as your relationship as a couple or family; your activities, hobbies, interests, and values; and your genuine desire to be parents -- and you'll want to do so in a friendly, open, and honest manner. How do you begin? Here are some tips to help you.
1. Find an appropriate album. Since you'll want some flexibility in telling (or retelling) your story, choose a book in which pages can be rearranged and added. Also, avoid bulky, fabric-stuffed albums, which are difficult to store and send through the mail.
2. Select a theme. If you'd like, you can adorn the cover of your portfolio with a child-friendly figure, such as Winnie the Pooh, or with pictures of another storybook character or baby animals. This theme can be carried throughout the book as well.
3. Tell your story in pictures. Place pictures of yourselves, close friends, relatives, pets, other children (if you have them), and important life events in chronological or thematic order. You might include pictures of your wedding, holidays, your home, vacations, and favorite activities or hobbies. Select photos that provide a warm, wholesome, honest portrait of your family and that display a sense of comfort and responsibility. Include no more than 20 pages of pictures (10 pages front and back), with a maximum of six to10 photos on each page.
4. Make it personal. Write captions for each picture or set of pictures, and personalize the information as much as possible. When referring to yourselves, for instance, use your first names (though not your last, if you want to maintain anonymity).
5. Write a compelling letter. Your "Dear Birth Mother" letter should describe your feelings toward the birth mother and convey something about yourselves and why you want to adopt. It should go on the first page of the portfolio. When writing your letter, try and follow these guidelines:
Some prospective parents choose to include a copy of their home study (with all identifying information removed) and letters of reference in their portfolio. This decision is up to you. If you don't include your home study, however, you can write a brief, one-page biography that highlights some of the positive aspects of your life, such as your stability, financial security, love for children, home, family, hobbies, and favorite activities. The home study and reference letters can be placed in the back of the portfolio (if you include them); the brief biography can go right after your letter to the birth mother.
Once you've completed your portfolio, have a few trusted friends or relatives look it over and give you their feedback. Your agency or attorney may offer their suggestions as well. When you're satisfied with the final product, have at least two color copies made. Give one copy to your attorney, and keep at least one copy and the original at home. After you've adopted a child, your original portfolio will make a good keepsake -- you can use it to tell your child the story of how you adopted her.
Sources: The Complete Adoption Book by Laura Beauvais-Godwin and Raymond Godwin, Esq.; Adoptive Families
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.