Adoption lays it all out on the table. Reference letters can be a way that comes into play. Every last bit of your life has been exposed. Finances, health, family relationships, intimacy, background, etc, etc. If you’re like my husband and me and have gone through the various infertility tests, you’ve started to get used to this whole concept of everyone knowing a whole lot about you. More people have seen you in a gown or the dreaded stirrups than you thought possible for someone unable to conceive. After all those times of being exposed and giving up control piece by piece, it can be hard to yet again leave even more control in another person’s hands . . . or pen, in this case. References letters are where that comes in. 

When choosing your references, select a variety of people to write them for you. Choose people who reflect the variety of relationships you have. Here is a short list of people you might ask:

  • Co-workers/Bosses
  • Close friends
  • Friends from church, if you attend one
  • Neighbors
  • Friends with children that you have interacted with

For our adoption references, we chose the following people:

  • My close friend had seen me at my “worst” and witnessed the person I’ve become and the relationship I have with Tyson.
  • One of Tyson’s close friends that he’d known since high school and we’d gone on double dates with.
  • One of Tyson’s former bosses that became a close friend
  • My sister, because I had spent plenty of time with my nephew and have a strong relationship with him.
  • Our bishop from church (this was mandatory, as we adopted through LDSFS).

Some agencies do not want a family member to write the reference letter, so pay close attention to their guidelines. It will help save time and energy.

Above anything else, you want to select honest people. Even if they say things that aren’t necessarily what you’d consider glowing, everything must be accurate and true. If nothing else, the agency can use that to help you become better parents.

Give your references a heads up about are the things that should be included in a good reference letter, like:

  • How long they have known you.
  • Any/all information about your character.
  • Your strengths.
  • Information about your marriage.
  • Parenting skills.

A great idea is to look online to gather some sample reference letters to help them write the best letter possible. As a bonus, this might help them get the letter done promptly.

After you have selected your references, you can relax a little bit. When our references were selected and contacted, we breathed a huge sigh of relief. Not only because we checked one more thing off the list but because we knew we had chosen wonderful people to write the letters. I think one of our references had offered to show us what they had sent, but we declined. We had total peace in their ability to express their feelings about us as potential parents in a way that would help our caseworker.



Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.