How to write an adoption reference

Write an Adoption Reference

Adoption agencies commonly require prospective parents to supply written references from people who know them well. A reference can have a real impact on whether or not a couple gets to adopt a child. If you know a couple considering adoption, you make be asked to write a reference for them. Thankfully, it's not difficult to learn to write an effective adoption reference.

Write an outline to start. Write down all of the good points you can think of about the prospective parents, including descriptions of qualities they possess that will make them good parents. Also, include any significant contributions they have made to the community and information about their manner of living.

Begin your reference with an introduction. Let the adoption agency know who you are, how you know the prospective parents and how long you have known them. Keep your introductory statements to one paragraph.

Include a separate paragraph about each member of the couple. Keep it brief and focus on describing the individual's best qualities.

Add one to two paragraphs describing the prospective parents as a couple. Again, focus on their good points. If they've encountered any challenges in their lives in the past, discuss how they have overcome them.

Conclude with a paragraph outlining the reasons the couple will make good parents and encourage the adoption agency to approve them for a child.

Edit your letter of reference to remove any wording that is too flowery or sentimental. Your reference should be succinct and to the point. It should show the couple in a good light, but not be so glowing as to sound unbelievable. You want the couple to sound like the good people they are, not like candidates for sainthood.


Adoption references shouldn't be too long. One to two typed, double-spaced pages are sufficient. You're highlighting the reasons why two people should be parents, not writing a novel. Be honest. Don't embellish any of the couple's accomplishments, as the adoption agency can research such statements for accuracy. You don't want your good intentions to end up reflecting badly on the couple. If you have serious reservations about a couple's ability to be good adoptive parents, let the adoption agency know in your letter. After all, the welfare of a child is at stake. If you're uncomfortable revealing potentially negative information, you can decline to provide a reference.