Today, we’re sitting down with Kim Noeth from birthmomstoday.com to get some of our frequently asked questions answered. Kim works with birth mothers every day and knows the thought process of birth mothers and adoptive parents alike. She’s a wonderful resource and we’re lucky to that she found some time to talk with us!
So Kim, when we were talking prior to this “on the record” interview, you mentioned that you were actually a birth mom, yourself. What was it like for you going through this experience of trying to find the right family?
When I placed my child, way back when, the process was MUCH different. Essentially, I was given three profiles, which had no photos, just text, and was told to choose. So I didn’t have the luxury of watching adoptive parent videos or seeing what they looked like - I simply had to rely on the story they gave me. As you know, that process has changed quite a bit! Today, there is a lot more valuable information to help an expectant woman make her decision.
Wow, It’s hard to believe that you had no photos or anything - just text! So what was it in the story that compelled you to choose this adoptive family?
Looking back, one of the most important factors in my decision, besides financial stability, was that my child would be growing up with another sibling who was also adopted so they could relate to one another and have common ground. So fortunately, that information was available to me and it was something that really influenced my decision.
So now that you are a birth mom advocate, what would you say that the birth mom’s you are working with are looking for in today's adoption profiles?
Authenticity. I can’t stress that enough. Adoptive parents who explicitly detail how they live - you know, their day to day - those are the ones that birth moms trust. There are so many times where birth moms feel that they are reading or viewing a contrived profile, some just feel too cookie cutter.
Birth moms also want to know how these adoptive parents will benefit the child. Is education a priority for them? Do they have good job security and financial stability? Are they active? Do they enjoy traveling? They want to know that their child is going to get the best care possible and have every opportunity to pursue their dreams.
In regards to telling the story, you should be authentic and show what you have to offer a child, but what else are birth moms looking for?
The most important thing you can do to create a powerful adoption profile is to make sure your true self is coming through in the writing. Give insight to your personality and your lifestyle, talk about your traditions, your values and the people that make up your support circle. This all plays a large role in the decision-making process for a birth mom.
What should parents stay away from when it comes to writing?
Well, I would say that the most common thing I hear about bad profiles is that people are over or under sharing. When it comes to oversharing, it’s usually “chapters” or “sections” being too long and just full of meaningless information. For example, a birth mom doesn’t need to know the names of all your cousins or need to hear an anecdote about your childhood best friend - she wants to know about YOU!
Under-sharing is pretty common too. While it’s important to be concise, you don’t want to be cookie cutter. For example, rather than just describing your home, as if you were putting it up on the market, pick a room or special day at home that is unique to you and talk about in detail. People can always relate to movie nights on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, or “Breakfast for Dinner” every Friday night!
Now we’ve talked mostly about story content, but what are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to choosing photos for your adoption profile?
I’ll say it again: it’s all about authenticity. Show real “everyday” photos. This is your opportunity to give this expectant mother the clues that she needs to make an important decision. Allow the viewer to see both the serious and the goofy side of you. Allow her to learn about the whole you.
It’s also good to have some pictures capturing those special moments or milestones in life. It shows a birth mom that you are “camera ready” and that they can expect to see fun candid photos of the child growing up through the years.
So, you’re saying no professional or staged photos? Am I hearing that right?
Well, professional photos are great for covers and can be scattered throughout. But I would say 80% “everyday” photos and 20% professional would be the perfect mix.
Okay, let’s move forward to talk about Birth Moms Today - your website. What was the motivation here?
I have to say, the amount of awareness and information around adoption has changed a lot over the years. But I felt like there was a void when it came to birth mom centric content and help. Websites like my own (Birthmomstoday.com) give women who are considering adoption the chance to speak to many others who have placed a child before. This communication helps expectant mothers learn from previous birth mother’s both online and in person about what is meaningful and attractive when selecting adoptive parents. This knowledge helps them develop an adoption plan with specifics that they normally might not have considered such as post adoption agreements.
How many birth mothers do you have in your group?
In my group, there are over 700 birth mothers. They are at varying stages and have either placed a child for adoption or are considering doing so. This group is for birth mothers only, and it is designed for them to meet and privately share stories so they can heal and grow.
One thing we’ve been talking about here at CAIRS is the importance of open/semi-open adoption. What are your thoughts? How important would you say it is for an adoptive family to keep in touch with a birth mother?
If people take away one thing from this conversation it should be this: It is paramount that the birth mother is informed of the child’s progress and growth. Birth mothers NEED to see a child grow from the infant she was separated from to the healthy, well-adjusted kiddo they are today. It gives them a sense of peace with decision and reassures them that this was the right choice to make.
It is also important for the child to know about their adoption. They need to know where they came from, even if they are only learning from pictures and letters. Having consistent communication is important for the child, so they can learn about their heritage as well as have their questions answered from people who can answer honestly. If open verbal communication is not healthy at this time, there are many ways that photos and updates can be shared even if done so anonymously through platforms like Childconnect.
That was a breakdown of our conversation with Kim Noeth of Birth Moms Today. For more information about her work see the links below: