As time passes, it becomes increasingly important for adopting parents to share their profile online. That may sound obvious, but many adopting parents aren’t quite there yet. This article explains why adopting parents should be online, different ways to “be online,” and 3 things adopting parents should consider as they make decisions about their online presence.
Potential Birth Parents Are Online. You Should Be, too!
At the time I am writing this, it is 2017. Millennials are approximately 13 to 35 years old. They’re the ones making adoption plans for their children. They came of age online with search engines that answer any question they have, smartphones that enable unlimited access from anywhere, and social media that connects them with their network. These are the tools they use to learn about adoption and to look for adopting parents. Again, they’re the ones making adoption plans! You MUST be where they are looking.
Change Creates Opportunity
If that sounded obvious, then this may, too. There are more people looking to adopt infants and fewer people making adoption plans. In January 2017, a large adoption agency, Independent Adoption Center, filed for bankruptcy. Their press release made this same claim:
Societal changes have created an environment in the United States where there are fewer potential birth parents than at any other point in our 34-year history of helping to create families. Simultaneously, due to changing demographics and the closure of international adoption programs, there are more hopeful adoptive parents seeking to adopt domestically than in any other time in recent history.
So is it more difficult to adopt today? In some ways, obviously, yes. At the same time, however, there are many more ways today to get yourself in front of potential birth parents.
When my wife and I adopted, we were one of 70 families in a 3-ring binder. Potential birth parents who physically visited our agency, browsed through the binder and selected adopting parents. YouTube and social media were in their infancy.
As just one example of how things have changed, My Adoption Advisor has developed well over 100 websites for adopting parents and then run online advertising campaigns to bring potential birth parents to those sites. When a potential birth parent speaks into her phone and asks Google, “How do I give my baby up for adoption,” an ad displays that when clicked, brings the searcher to the corresponding website. This is how many adopting parents connect with potential birth parents and begin to explore the possibilities with them. It’s really incredible!
There may be fewer people making adoption plans, but in many ways it is MUCH easier to help them find you today than it was when we were one of 70 families in a binder sitting on a shelf in a building in St. Paul, MN. Take advantage of the change!
After You’re Online, It’s All About EXPOSURE!
It’s critical to be online, but there are more than 1 billion websites so if you think creating a new one will somehow automatically attract a lot of visitors to your site, you’re wrong. You must focus on exposure!
Your profile is your opportunity to share with the reader important aspects about you and what their child’s life will be like as a member of your family. Hard copy booklets can do this, but so can Facebook pages, YouTube videos, Pinterest pages, profile listing services, your agency’s website, as well as your personal adoption website. And this isn’t an either/or choice. In fact, your best approach is to cast a wide net and create as many ways as possible for a potential birth parent to find you. Many websites that we create for adopting parents, for example, include embedded videos and links to social media pages. Those same video and Facebook pages link back to the website. Some of the more forward-thinking agencies require this approach, in fact.
3 Considerations for Your Online Presence
Fast, Mobile-Friendly Website
More than half of a website’s traffic comes from people on mobile devices – primarily smartphones. Since you’re trying to attract Millennials to your website, that percentage is even higher. When visiting a website on a smartphone or tablet, people are five times more likely to leave a site that is not mobile-friendly and nearly half of all visitors will leave a mobile site if the pages don’t load within 3 seconds.
A mobile-friendly website is one that look and works DIFFERENTLY depending on the screen size and screen orientation. Have you ever visited a website on your smartphone and you had to continuously pinch to zoom in and out and pan left and right to read and select menu options and text or to fill out a form? I bet you didn’t stay on that website long! A mobile-friendly website will change how the menu displays and will display entire pages in a long, vertical manner so the visitor doesn’t have to pinch and pan all over the place.
If ease-of-use isn’t compelling enough, Google favors mobile-friendly websites when determining which websites and which advertisements to show in its search results. Each instance of your online adoption presence must be on a mobile-friendly website.
Help Search Engines Understand Your Content – SEO
When you search Google for “online adoption advertising,” you may see a few ads at the top of the search results screen, but when you look at the organic, unpaid search results, you’ll see a link to My Adoption Advisor at or near the top of the page. You may even see 2 or 3 links to our website! This is free, unbelievable exposure and this is the power of good SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
SEO encompasses all of the creative and technical things one does to improve search result rankings and drive traffic. It’s a complex topic that we cannot fully cover here, but what’s important for you to understand is that the search engines try to understand content and then show the most relevant content to searches based on what they search one. You need to make that easy for search engines to do!
Regardless of where you have an online adoption presence and how you got it, it’s important to make sure you consider SEO practices. You can’t beat free visibility!
Pros & Cons of Listing Services
There are several “listing services” or “profile registries” that leverage their own social media, SEO, and/or paid advertising strategies to bring potential birth parents to their website. They make it easy for adopting parents to create an online profile and then can often garner more exposure than most adopting parents can get on their own. This is a cost-effective way for many adopting parents to get more visibility.
One downside with these services is that there are sometimes several hundred other adopting parents on these websites. “Competition” is fierce! The other challenge is that their standard methods for creating profiles is just that – standard. The limited opportunity to creatively showcase yourself is a challenge when at the same time there are so many adopting parents listed. It’s a good resource for potential birth parents and while it can work for some adopting parents, too, it can also present unique challenges.