When you decide to adopt a child, you must submit several documents as part of your home study. These include, amongst other things, a financial statement, proof of medical insurance, and letters of recommendation.
Reference letters offer third-party validation about your lifestyle, character, and potential parenting ability. It’s another way the agency can ensure the child is getting placed with a family who is able to provide proper care, protection, and love.
The first guideline for these letters is that they are written by non-family members. Aside from that, you can choose anyone who can speak to your character and personal history. That leaves a lot of people! So, who should write these letters?
Here are a few things to consider when asking people to write the letters of recommendation for your home study:
How Well Do They Know You?
Choose people who have known you for years. A neighbor who has known you for six months might be very excited about your adoption, but he can’t really speak to your financial history, your stable marriage, or your years-long desire to have a child.
Can They Share Personal Stories?
A letter that says, “Julie is a good person. I think she’d be a great parent,” is not especially helpful. You want a letter that gives examples of your stable home and ability to raise a child in a loving, nurturing environment. You might choose someone who knows how much you have wanted a child, how you stepped in and took care of your sister’s child while she was sick, how you lead projects in the community, and so on. You want someone with first-hand knowledge of you!
Do They Support Adoption?
Sadly, not everyone understands or supports adoption. You might have a good friend who knows you well, but if he doesn’t understand why you chose to adopt a baby, he is probably not the best person to write a letter for you.
Have They Seen You Interact with Children?
If you regularly spend time with a friend’s children, that friend might be able to write a good letter for you. Think of anyone who has seen you interact with kids: leading a youth group or scouting troupe, babysitting, or volunteering at a school or youth sporting event.
Do They Know a Bit About Your Personal, Community, Work, and Social Lives?
Not every recommendation needs to mention who you are in every aspect of your life, but if you choose a co-worker who knows nothing about you except for how dedicated you are to your job, he might not be the best letter writer. Meanwhile, if you’re very active in your church, for example, it would be good if at least one letter can mention that—which means at least one of the writers needs to know you from that part of your life.
That brings us to our final bit of advice:
Choose a Variety of People to Write Your Letters of Recommendation
Don’t ask three people from work or three people from your neighborhood. Ask three people who each have a slightly different perspective on your life, but who can all attest to your ability to raise a child based on what they know about you. If you are adopting with a spouse, it’s good if your letter writers know you as a couple. Consider co-workers, church members or leaders, close friends, neighbors, social connections, and more.
Most people will feel honored for the opportunity to write such an important letter, and they will take it seriously. However, if someone says, “I’m really not the right person to do this,” listen to him, no matter how ideal you think he is for the task. There could be a variety of reasons for this unwillingness to participate: time restrictions, lack of confidence in his writing ability, anxiety over the pressure to do something that could impact the outcome of your adoption, or even disapproval about your decision to adopt. If he declines, graciously accept that and ask someone else. You know a lot of people who can write truthful letters that will glow with their enthusiasm and belief in you as a parent.
If you have any other questions about the adoption process or letters of recommendation or other aspects of the home study, give us a call any time. We’re happy to help.