The last two items we've had to complete have been the Family Introduction Letter and the Family Book. These two things are the most important pieces of our preparations to enter the waiting pool. They are the first things birth families see when looking at potential adoptive families for their child. (No pressure!)
What is a Family Introduction Letter?
When you visit the profiles of families in the waiting pool, the text on their profile page is the Family Introduction Letter. In essence, it's like reading the first page in a new book or the opening of a 60-minute presentation. The good Family Introduction Letters get your attention and make you interested to read more. They make you feel connected to the people that wrote them while also giving a good sense of who they are, what they value, and what sort of parents they would become (or are). On some levels, this is really tough because you get 1 page to cram a giant pile of information into place while also making it seem light and effortless and fun.
Family Book....that sounds like a novel. Did you write War and Peace or something?
Oh my god it felt like it. This one was incredibly tough for us to make as it was brand new and was not something we prepared for our last adoption. The Family Intro Letter seems like a piece of cake as it's condensed down into a neat little 1 page package. This behemoth took us over a month to pull together.
The Family Book is a 20-30 page book filled with photos and text. You know how people make cute little photo books on Shutterfly or Snapfish that show off pictures of their weddings or vacations? Yeah, those books are easy. Hell, someone could pick up a pile of 100 vacation pictures, shove it into one of those sites, and it will spit out an entire book in 60 seconds.
I may be exaggerating a bit, but the Family Book is something that, for us, required a lot of thought, preparation, rifling through thousands of pictures, and the entire month of April. The hardest part was just building an outline and a base of pictures that started to help it all make sense. Until that happened, it was like having the same piece of homework every night after work and never making any progress, but in the end we crammed in 87 pictures, 67 text boxes, and far too many customized layouts later we have a drafted copy of this ready to go!
We sent drafts of both the Letter and the Book to our counselor, Katie, just last night. Earlier today we heard that she's headed out on vacation for a few days (lucky for her!), but that we'll hear back in a week as this will be at the top of her list. We'll likely have some tweaks to take care of and then after that we'll have these finalized and ready for production. The only other big items out there are for Katie to finish up our homestudy report and for us to send in a big fat check to the agency to cover pool entry/marketing. Barring any issues, we could be in the waiting pool by the end of May!