Dear Birthmother,

We have a really hilarious idea for a youtube video, and all we need is a baby to make it happen…

Wait… that’s no good. Let’s try again.

Greetings,

My human name is Todd, but you can call me Elynazarth, the elf druid. I am qualified to raise your child due to my 18 pt Wisdom score and a saving throw of 10 against colicky babies.

Hmm. Pretty good. But if we really want results, maybe we should go for something more action-oriented.

Hello

We payy CA$$h for babiEs – anY CONDITION why wait for better offer? send chlid now

Wow. Writing a Dear Birthmother letter is harder than you would think.

The Dear BM letter is one of the most important parts of getting selected from the pool. Once a birthmother has made a decision to place her child for adoption, the counselor presents her with a small book of Dear BM letters. The contents of the book are based on the “screening criteria” submitted by the adoptive parents – criteria such as readiness for transracial adoption, alcohol/drug exposure, and other things like that. Every adoptive parent whose criteria matches the birthmother’s circumstances is included in the book of letters. The birthmother selects a few names from the book, and views the full profiles (homestudy, auto-bios, photo collage, etc) of just those few families whose letter she liked. The DearBM letter is the foot in the door that gets the birthmother interested in learning more, and it’s therefore really important.

We started our brainstorming by looking at some of the other letters on the website and the examples included in our informational packet. But we ended up feeling pretty intimidated by a lot of those – it seemed like everyone out there spoke 3 languages, owned their own companies, competed on the Olympic gymnastics team, and developed disease vaccines while flying their own plane to deliver food to African villages while carrying a small child on their lap to teach them about the wonders of giving. Whereas for me, uh… I got 3rd place in my fantasy basketball league. That’s my big achievement for the year.

All we could do is talk about ourselves – but even that is tough. I’ve always struggled with writing cover letters for job applications, as everything I write feels “too boasty”. This letter was like a cover letter for the ultimate job, and I felt really weird trying to explain the awesomeness of my life. And Betsy is way more humble than me – it was going to be a tough task for the two of us to put together something we felt comfortable with. We made a handful of false starts, but never found something we felt comfortable with.

We returned to reading the letters. And on the second time through, I noticed something different. I tended to skim over the people with fantastic achievements, and instead focused in on the people with the interesting anecdotes. The people who professed their love for tartar sauce. The people who were outraged about the demotion of Pluto to a “planette”. The people who seemed real to us, and the people that we could see ourselves hanging out with. That’s really the point of the DearBM letter – it’s not to impress everyone in the world, but to talk about who you are to help you connect with the birthmother out there who has a similar personality and interests.

We also liked the way that a few people were bringing in quotes – either from friends or from each other. It seemed a lot more natural to us to write the letter that way. We each sequestered ourselves off in a room and wrote about each other, and returned to compare notes. If you are in a relationship, you might try that out someday – it’s a nice thing to do, even if you’re not adopting. While we often talk to each other about what we like in each other, there’s something to be said about seeing it written down on paper.

Once we had our quotes about each other ready, and a sense of what we wanted to talk about in the surrounding paragraphs, we sat down to put it all together. The editing process went pretty well. We work in pretty different ways, but once we got used to writing together, a lot of the letter just flowed out. We just tried to highlight who we are – appreciative of the simple things in life, excited about friends and family, interested in food and books and music, and all that fun stuff.

The picture for the letter was taken by our friend Mandy. She was really patient with us and very kind to come out on a freezing cold day in Edmonds, and the pictures turned out really good. Many thanks to her for doing that for us.

All in all, I think the letter turned out really good. What started out as a tough and scary project wasn’t too bad in the long run, and actually a lot of fun. And now, with us finally in the pool, you can check it out yourself!