An adoption reference letter is required for a home study as a way for an agency to get a feel for the kind of support system an adoptive couple has. On average, prospective adopters will need to have three reference letters from people who have known them longer than 12 months. How confidential these reference letters are depends on state and agency laws and regulations. Sometimes, adopters will just provide them for the agency and other times they'll provide the contact information for the case worker to reach out to. When thinking about the kind of person an adopter wants to use for a reference, they'll want to be sure that person is positive and comfortable with the recommendation process. A bad reference can be really influential on a case worker's decision. However, it's likely that they'll try to understand where any negative feedback is coming from before they take the reference to heart.
A little coaching may be advised for the writers of reference letters. By using sensitive language and key points to mention about the couple that agencies are looking to know more about. For example, a couple's community involvement or what personality traits they have that make them seem prepared to be great parents.
Sometimes, agencies will have surveys about the adopters for their references to fill out. This is a way for the agency to interview the references and get detailed information that may have not been explicit or present in the reference letter.