Here's a short excerpt from

"The Golden Rules"

This chapter helps you develop a healthy mental attitude toward writing their letter, and toward the adoption process itself. Much of REACHING OUT contains this kind of "dual wisdom," information universally applicable to both the adoption process and to writing a good letter.

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Yes, just a couple of pages after I said there was no right or wrong way to write a Dear Birthmother letter, I'm going to lay a few rules on you. Perhaps "rules" is a bad word to describe this chapter. These philosophies represent the core values upon which this book is based. Taken as a whole, they provide a great mind set with which to begin not just your letter writing, but your whole adoption journey as well.

#1 - The Goal of a Dear Birthmother Letter is to Connect with the Birthmother who is Right for You.

"As an adoption professional, I recommend this book to all of my clients. Written with insight, sensitivity and humor, the book guides you from initial idea to an outreach letter that speaks honestly and compellingly to potential birthmothers."

-Sheri Cohen, Esq.

Los Angeles, California


Adoption professionals all agree that successful open adoptions--where the right baby makes it into the right home--occur when potential adoptive parents and birthmothers make a strong personal connection prior to the birth of the child. So, this first Golden Rule contains two bits of essential wisdom.

First, you must understand that your goal is to connect with a birthmother, not a child. If you are looking to adopt a newborn, you can't pick your child; you can only pick your child's birthmother. After all this time hoping for a baby, suddenly you must hope for an adult, and that's a change in consciousness. To find the baby that's meant to be a part of your family, you must connect with the birthmother who is right for you.

And there's that phrase again: who is right for you.

Not every birthmother will match up well with every potential adoptive parent. Personal temperaments, life philosophies, and personalities vary, ways of communicating differ, and personal rhythms sometimes don't click. The same variables that govern all interpersonal communication are naturally at play, and often amplified, within the high-stakes context of a birthmother/potential adoptive parent relationship.

 A successful open adoption grows from a certain natural comfort level between the participants, a sense of ease that is reassuring to both parties. Your birthmother needn't be "just like you," either. This type of simpatico can easily exist between people of widely differing backgrounds and experience. When you finally meet the birthmother who's right for you, you may be surprised to find that you come from very different places yet share much common ground.

The best way to heighten your chances of meeting that special someone is to present an accurate and insightful impression of yourselves in your Dear Birthmother letter. The more authentically your letter communicates the essence of who you are, the better chance you have of connecting with the birthmother who shares those feelings.

#4 - Be Yourself

The temptation, when you're first starting to write, is to think in mercantile terms, to think of yourself as a product to be packaged and sold. This is a natural instinct given our consumer culture and the number of advertising messages we absorb everyday. Many potential adoptive families find the whole Dear Birthmother letter process so distasteful that they choose to abandon the course of adoption altogether.
They are either discouraged by what they feel is a need to present picture perfect, "Ken and Barbie" images of themselves, or they are turned off by the feeling that they are advertising for a baby.

My wife and I certainly wrestled with these issues. I wrote about them for Offspring and Adoptive Families magazines [See Appendix 1: Love for Sale]. And indeed, in some sense, writing a Dear Birthmother letter is constructing an image for yourself, an image you hope will appeal to a birthmother.

But primarily, a Dear Birthmother letter is an introduction, the purpose of which is to meet a person who may need your help (as you might need hers). You are not writing to persuade, as a sales pitch might do. You are writing to open widely the door to your life and let a birthmother have a good peek inside. Maybe even put out the welcome mat. The closer to your heart you can keep this thought, the freer of competitive concerns you will feel.

If you can't fully separate yourself from the feeling that you are selling something--and it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that you would be alone in this--at least sell yourself honestly. Don't pretend you're chicken if in fact you are steak. Always remember that your goal is to appeal not to just any birthmother, but rather to the one with whom you are likely to be able to form a strong connection.

Most importantly, don't begin this most important of life journeys with a lie, no matter how small it is. Now, more than ever, to thine own self be true.

Witty, practical, warm, and honest. Anyone who is daunted by the task of writing a Dear Birthmother letter should read this book. Recommended by a friend, I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I found it witty, practical, warm and honest. Loved it. My husband is now reading it and laughs out loud. What seemed an overwhelming task now looks like fun. Here's to the journey..."

-Jennifer Cowie King, Altadena, CA

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Look Inside the Book!

  1. BulletForeword by Carole LieberWilkins, M.A.

  2. BulletTable of Contents

  3. BulletA Note from the Author

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