Tips for Writing an Adoption Reference Letter

Understanding the major pieces needed for writing an adoption reference letter will make the process much easier.


“Reference letters are a good way for social workers on that file to understand what the adoptive family is like,” professional editor Nancy Goodman said. “They provide an external perspective to the family, which is a better-rounded picture of the home situation.”  

Your friend, colleague or neighbor has just asked you to help them in the most exciting time of their life – their adoption journey. This process requires one or more reference letters from people who know the prospective parents well, and this just happens to be you. 

You’re understandably honored and happy to help them make their dream a reality since you think they would be great parents. Once this sinks in, however, it’s normal to feel worried about what to write since this is such an important task. Understanding the major pieces needed for these letters will make the process much easier.  

Why are these Reference Letters Required? 

When a family is planning for adoption, the first step is a home study. This involves doing background checks, security clearances, sharing their medical health information, financial statements, and also providing a home inspection and visit. This varies depending on where the family lives, and also depends on whether they’re adopting internationally or domestically. The process for an adoption from foster care is slightly different as well. In every case, however, a reference letter is required.

A family planning to adopt will be asked to give the agency anything from three to five different reference letters. They are all similar in that the letter cannot be from a family member, so they need to reach out to family friends, colleagues, professors, neighbors, or a member of their church – anyone that can vouch for the prospective parents’ characters.

Step 1: How Do You Know Them?

The adoption letter should start by explaining how you know the prospective parents: where you met, under what circumstances, and how long ago this was. It should explain the relationship you have with one or both of the parents.

Step 2: Describing their Character

After this introduction, you should continue by describing their character and their strengths. 

“This is where you provide any information at all that may be found useful by the social worker,” said writer Robin McCann. “[Consider] what attributes they may have that would be perfect for adopting and parenting a child and be sure to highlight those in this section.” 

You should provide information about each person in the relationship and then speak about how their marriage is as a whole.

Step 3: Finishing the Letter

Finally, explain what their current parenting skills are like, if applicable, or how you’ve seen them interacting with young children. Finish with a clear sentence indicating your recommendation that these prospective parents should be able to adopt because of their extreme suitability.

What’s important here is to indicate that the family is ready to raise a child, so you have to be honest. Don’t embellish or make things up to make your friend happy, or make things more difficult for the social worker.  Speak honestly and frankly about them as a couple and individuals. You should be clear about whether there is anything that would prohibit them from adopting, and if there isn’t, indicate that clearly.

Step 4: Proofread and Check

It’s crucial that your letter has no spelling mistakes or inconsistencies, so don’t forget to proofread and edit it before you send it off. Some sites have online tools that can help you with this.

Don’t forget to finish off the letter by including your full name, your phone number, and your address so the social worker on this file can follow up with you if they have questions about anything you addressed in your letter. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a small thing you can do for a couple trying to grow their family. 

Author Bio
Chloe Bennet is a manager at two essay writing portals. She helps with blog content and researches new educational trends.