Woman considers what to write in an adoption letter of referenceAs hopeful adoptive parents go through the adoption process, they must complete a home study. An essential element of the home study process is providing several letters of reference.
If you’re hoping to adopt, you need a way to tell adoption professionals and birth mothers that you’re capable and prepared to raise a child. To accomplish this, you’ll be tasked with asking a few sincere, trustworthy people you know to write an adoption reference letter about you. Who should you ask to write an adoption letter of reference for a home study? Here are some ideas on who you might ask:

  • Members of your church that you’re well-acquainted with
  • Close and long-time friends you’ve known for at least five years
  • Pastor or clergy member
  • Co-workers
  • Friends you spend time with (especially those who have children or have seen you interacting with children).

Depending on your adoption agency and the state you live in, you may be asked for letters from non-family members only. Other agencies will request one adoption reference letter from a family member or close relative. For example, in Florida, hopeful adoptive parents need reference letters from one family member, four non-relatives, and employment references. Make sure to check your adoption professional’s requirements and guidelines first.
After you’ve asked a friend or colleague to write an adoption reference letter, they might not be sure where to start. The following tips and information can guide them along.

Tips for Writing an Adoption Letter of Reference

You’ve just hung up the phone after a good chat with one of your close friends, who shared some exciting news: they’re planning to adopt! Even better, they’ve asked you to write a reference letter. You know they’ll make incredible parents, and you’re happy to help make their adoption dream come true.
As excited as you are to help your friend in their adoption journey, you might not know where to start. How can you convince others that your friend is capable and prepared for adoption?
You probably know what a “reference letter” is, having politely asked for them for college and job applications. These letters are common, but you may not know why someone would need a reference letter in an adoption.
When a couple begins planning out their adoption journey, the first big milestone will be the adoption home study. Your friends will need to provide background checks and clearances, their most recent financial statements, and their most recent medical statements. They are also required to have an in-home visit and a home inspection from a social worker trained in adoption.
As your friend’s home study is being completed, most adoption agencies will ask for reference letters to be provided to them from personal, non-related contacts. Reading these reference letters is an effective way for the social worker preparing your friend’s home study to get to know them. With this outside perspective, the social worker gains more information to use during the evaluation process. Some adoption agencies furnish a reference form for you to complete about the potential adoptive parents, while others will ask for letters to be written by those contacts. As you get ready to deliver such an important testimony, you want to be sure that it is not incomplete.
Woman writing an adoption letter of reference

What Should I Include in the Reference Letter?

The social worker who is preparing the home study will look for five basic items in the letter. If you answer these five questions in your reference letter for a home study, then you will have covered all the basics:

  1. How long have you known them, and how did you meet?

  2. How would you describe your relationship with the couple? Providing the agency with this information gives them a good foundation for your friendship.

  4. What is the couple’s character like? Describe characteristics that would be relevant to raising children. What experience do they have with children, and how do their personalities have a positive impact on children, in your opinion? Showing that your friend has experience with children is important to include in your letter.

  6. What is their relationship like with their family members or friends? Provide information about when you’ve seen them interact with those around them and how they handle both good and bad situations with others. Relationships with those close to them can provide signs of how they would parent their adopted child.

  8. What makes your friend a good candidate for adopting a child? Provide examples of their strengths from what you know. How have you seen them display traits such as compassion, integrity, and generosity, and how would that make them a good fit as an adoptive parent?

Please remember to include today’s date in your letter, and print it out so that you can sign it physically. Then, you will need to mail the original to the home study provider. Be aware that you might also receive a phone call from your friend’s home study writer.
When you ask people to write a letter of reference, be sure to give them an idea of what your agency wants. Giving them the tips listed above should help make their letter-writing process much easier. Remember to provide them the person this letter should address, your agency’s address, and the phone number of your agency if they have any questions. Above all, remind them to be honest.

Have more questions? Let Lifetime help!

Lifetime Adoption, Inc. is a Licensed Florida Child Placing Agency. We are licensed by the State of Florida to complete home studies for the purpose of adoption within all counties of the state. If you have any questions about a Florida adoption home study or if you would like to receive more information, please call Lifetime at 727-493-0933 or send us an email.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 29, 2020, and has since been updated. 

Linda Rotz

Written by Linda Rotz

Linda Rotz, CWCM-S, CWCM-Trainer, ACC, is the Director of Adoption Services at Lifetime. Linda has worked in the field of adoption for 20 years within the child welfare/foster care system in Florida. She has degrees in Mass Communications and Human Development, and completed graduate studies in social work.

Due to her extensive expertise, Linda was called upon to write adoption procedures and training materials in Florida. She is certified as an Adoption Specialist, Child Welfare Case Manager Supervisor and Child Welfare Trainer in the state of Florida.