How to Write a Letter of Reference for an Adoption Home Study

When a family goes through the adoption process, whether it be domestic or international, they must complete a Home Study.  An essential element of the Home Study process is for the prospective adoptive family to furnish several letters of reference.

If you have been asked to furnish a letter of reference for an adoptive family’s Home Study, and don’t know where to begin, here are a few tips to get you started.

First, the purpose of the letter of reference is to ensure that the adoptive parents are going to take good care of the child.  So, be honest.  The last thing the world needs is an adopted child being sent back to the country they came from (or DHR) because the adoptive parents weren’t equipped for the rigors of adoption.  If you have serious doubts about the adoptive parents, then let the social work know.

Second, as far as content of the letter, the social worker preparing the Home Study is looking for four basic things.  If you answer these five questions, then you will have covered all the basics.

1.         How long have you known the couple?

2.         What is your relationship? i.e., neighbor, sibling, Sunday school class, etc.

3.         What is the couple’s character?  Describe their attributes that would be relevant to raising children.

4.         Do you know of anything that would hinder their success as adoptive parents?  Do you know of any history of chemical or physical abuse?

5.         Do you recommend that they adopt a child?

Below is a template to get you started:


November 8, 2011

To whom it may concern,

I have known Joe and Sally Smith for 10 years.  I have been involved with Joe and Sally as members of the neighborhood watch committee and in Sunday school classes.

I have observed that Joe and Sally are very kind and patient people.  Although they do not have any children of their own, they have always interacted in a kind and friendly way with the children at our church.  Joe and Sally are always pleasant to each other and the people around them.

I do not know of anything in their character or history that should prevent them from being successful adoptive parents.  I give my unreserved recommendation that they be allowed to adopt a child/ children.



Martha Earnest


For more information see The Home Study Process, produced by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, courtesy of One World Adoption Services.

Photo by Andrew Eason.

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