How to Write a Reference Letter for Your Friend Who is Adopting


You’ve just gotten off the phone with one of your good friends, and they’ve told you some great news — they’re planning to adopt! Even better, they’ve asked YOU to do them the honor of writing their reference letter. You know that they’ll make wonderful parents, and you’d be happy to help make their adoption dream come true.

But now — after saying yes with enthusiasm — you’re a little unsure of what you’re supposed to write. To help, we’ve broken down the process on how to fill out the references for the adoptive family, and how to make your letter stand out.

Why do Adoptive Families Need Reference Letters?

You likely already know what a reference letter is. We’ve been politely asking for them for years, for anything from college applications to that dream job we’ve always wanted. These letters are common, but you may not understand why someone would need to ask for a reference letter in an adoption.

When an adoptive family starts planning for their adoption journey, their first big milestone will be the adoption home study. Typically, they will need to provide background checks and clearances, their most recent medical statements, and their most recent financial statements. They will also have to participate in an in-home visit and a home inspection. The specifics of what they need to include will vary depending on which state they’re adopting from and if they’re pursing an international, domestic, or a foster adoption.

One thing that they will almost always have to ask for, however, is reference letters. An adoptive family can expect to provide at least three to five reference letters from non-family members. They can ask close family friends, co-workers, professors from college and others who can speak to their character.

Reference letters serve as a great way for the social worker completing the home study to get to know the adoptive family. With an outside perspective, the social worker can feel confident about the evaluation process.

What You Should Try to Include in Your Adoption Reference Letter

First of all, the purpose of the reference letter is to ensure that the adoptive family is ready to raise a child. So it’s important to be honest. You don’t want to embellish anything just to make your friend happy. You also don’t want to make the situation harder for the social worker.

Second, there are many trends you will see when you start researching how to fill out the references for the adoptive family.  Generally, the social worker will be looking for five things in your reference letter.

  1. How long have you known the adoptive family?
  2. What is your relationship to them?
  3. What is their character like? What traits would make them good parents?
  4. Is there anything that should prohibit them from adopting?
  5. Do you recommend that they adopt a child?

You’ll also need to include your name, phone number, and address so that the social worker can contact you if they have any questions about your letter. It may seem like a lot, but it’s one step closer to making the adoptive families’ dreams come true.

Below is a sample reference letter that should help as you’re figuring out how to fill out the references for the adoptive family:

August 01, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

I have known John and Sally Johnson since college. Since then, we have become close friends, and have helped each other on numerous occasions. We are lucky to live in the same neighborhood, and we try to get together often with our families. 

I have seen countless times that the two of them are some of the most compassionate people that I am honored to know. John is always putting his friends first and won’t hesitate to lend a helping hand. Sally is extremely thoughtful, and she has been a shoulder to cry on time and time again. Not only do they help my family, but they’re known as helping hands around the neighborhood, too.

Even though they don’t yet have any children of their own, I know it’s something that they’ve always desired. They are both extremely patient, and have had no problems babysitting my young children, ages 4 and 6, on many occasions. They are wonderful examples for my children, so I know they would have no issue raising children of their own.

I do not know anything regarding their character, or their history, that should prevent them from becoming successful adoptive parents. I give my wholehearted recommendation that they should be able to pursue an adoption.


John Doe

For more tips about how to fill out the references for adoptive family, you can also visit adoption forums for more help. There are also many sample adoption reference letters online if you’re looking for more examples.

Comments 2

  1. I love the way you compose the sample letter. I will like you to compose for me a letter of consent which I will give to my wife inoder to enable her to adopt her late brothers son who is now in the university. The boy has been leaving with me and my wife and our kids for the past 9 years since the father died. My wife loves the boy so much and our kids too and I also love him. The whole of my family are fond of him. Thanks

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