Families who have already passed the home-study process and are approved to adopt from foster care can use photolisting sites, like AdoptUSKids and other state-run sites, to showcase a profile of their family.
These websites can be useful to foster care professionals who are looking for families and offer a great opportunity for families to provide a first impression.
Check out the following nine tips about what steps families can take to make their profile more informative and useful:
- Give workers a sense of who you are by writing with personality. Most people don’t enjoy writing, and hardly anyone enjoys writing about themselves. But workers want to get a sense of your personality to know if you might be a good fit for a child. And your narrative is their first opportunity to do it.
- Include a recent photo with all legal members of the family. A clear, current photo is another way for a worker to get a quick sense of your family, including how many children are in your family—and perhaps even pets! (Caveat: do not include children who are in foster care or not yet legally adopted.)
- Describe where you find support.Having a support system is essential to anyone who is adopting. But it can sometimes be even more important if you do not have as much parenting experience or are adopting children with greater needs.
If you have friends who have adopted from foster care, family in the area, connections in the community, or an understanding of resources through your work or other activities, let workers know. They want to be sure that families have—or can access—the support they need for their family to succeed.
- Share what behavior and conditions you will and will not accept. Don’t just check the boxes. Be honest about your concerns and describe how you are planning to deal with issues as they arise. Describe behaviors and conditions you will not accept.
- Talk about your experience with children—even if it is not as a parent. Having experience as a parent and fostering sets families apart in many workers’ eyes. But experience with children comes in many forms. When you are describing your parenting experience, think broadly.
- Ensure all the information you share is current.Workers are confused when there are apparent discrepancies between the information contained in forms, narratives, and photos.
You can make their job easier—and make it more likely that they will contact you—by being sure to update all areas of your profile at the same time. For example, if you adopt a child, update your photo to include that child and your narrative to mention that the child you may have mentioned fostering is now a legal member of your family. If you have a new pet, update your profile to include them.
- Include how you can work with the birth family to maintain a relationship.If your family is licensed to foster and adopt, you probably already know that supporting a child’s reunification with their birth parents is an important part of being a foster parent.
It can be helpful for workers searching for families to know how open you are to keeping children connected to birth parents and siblings who may be living with relatives or other families.
- Describe your family’s lifestyle and interests as well as what adjustments could be made to fit the needs of a child. Describing your family’s lifestyle and interests is a very important part of your profile and a great way for workers to get to know you. But what if your interests do not align with the needs of the children you say you are open to?
- Review your draft again to make sure it is error free. Have a friend read your profile. Does it show who you really are? Is it too formal, or not formal enough? Are there errors or inconsistencies? What’s missing? Put your best foot forward when giving a child the gift of permanency!