The top of our adoption to do list, as we’ve mentioned a couple of times, has been occupied by The Letter. What letter? Oh, just the one wherein we have 950 words to persuade someone that we’ll make good parents – and that we’re the right parents – for their soon-to-be born child. That letter. No sweat.
*A* and I have tried explaining The Letter, officially titled “The Dear Birthmother Letter,” to our rightly curious family and friends, and for some reason, convenience, I guess, we keep falling back on one explanation, but every time we do, we both sort of chafe at it. We typically say, “Well, this is where open adoption becomes a bit like online dating, or at least we presume (neither of us ever having tried online dating).” You paint the best picture of yourself that you can, describing your interests, your relationship, I have a section about *A* and she has one about me. We also talk about our community, town, and families. Sort of a getting to know you—in brief (950 words and about 12 photos) and not in-person.
The Letter is used to give prospective birthmoms an idea of available adoptive families. Here’s just one scenario from the many opportunities for circulating our Letter: someone decides that she wants to make an adoption plan. She finds out about the IAC and goes to the website iheartadoption.org. Once there, she can search for available adoptive families, narrowing down her search for whatever specifics she and the birthfather fulfill and what she / they desire(s) in adoptive parents: race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. (information we filled out in our IAC profile saying what we’re open to as well) Let’s say 20 families match her criteria. She can look at our iheartadoption.org page, which is essentially an online version of the letter, and she might request a hard copy of the letter (it’s actually sort of a portfolio) be sent to her from the IAC. From there, she makes a decision whether or not she wants to match with us – which, I guess, to further the analogy – is to “date” us exclusively – if it’s a mutual match, then we move forward right through that magical moment where another person enters the agreement – and we take over as parents, but with a mutually held agreement that we will maintain a relationship (all intricacies of that relationship discussed before the birth) on the child’s behalf.
There are lots of other ways that a birthmom – our child’s birthmom – might find us, and it might not happen this way at all. The Letter seems to be involved in most of those ways that she might find us, though. Obviously, a pretty big deal. We need to get it right.
Nine hundred and fifty words. Did I mention that limit for the word count? For two former English majors, both of whom got snarky looks from undergrad and grad school professors for turning in novels when only essays were due, it’s not much space to say what seems to be an awful lot of important stuff – so that you don’t sound like everyone else out there. And we (we, as in I, *E*, must refrain from including “Pick us! Pick us!”, however much I might want to. I feel like that is still the undercurrent – but I guess it is for everyone else’s letter too.
For the past few weeks we’ve been working with someone from the IAC’s office in Atlanta, who has been patiently editing Our Letter for us – in the beginning, to cut some words out (way over the word count at first), then making sure we are saying the things that best explain the two of us and what we are looking forward to as parents. We squeaked through with just three quite minor edits (yay!) and got the okay today that our final draft was good – we’re smack on the dot at 950 words – and we can move on to submitting photos. *Phew*
**Update** We’ve included a link to our iheartadoption.org page: just click on the photo near the top right-hand side of the page under the heading “To a special birthparent.” From there, you can see the Dear Birthmother letter we spent so much time polishing!