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Being a referee for would be adopters

11 replies

poshfrock · 05/07/2014 08:46

After 6 years of trying to conceive both naturally and by IVF which have taken a massive toll on her physical and mental health my sister and her husband have decided to adopt.
She has asked me to be her referee and for that I have to provide a written reference. I want to ensure that I write the best reference possible. Can anyone give me any pointers about things to include (or exclude)?
They are a fantastic couple and no-one deserves this more than they do. They would be amazing parents and it has broken my heart to see the misery they have been through (including a miscarriage at 17 weeks which almost killed my sister and resulted in a 3 week hospital stay and 6 months off work).
Any and all suggestions about the reference and any way I can support them through this process most welcome.

OP posts:
MrsM2509 · 05/07/2014 09:57

Sorry to hear about the upsetting time you have all been through.

If their ref request is anything like ours, it's questions you are asked. You just have to give a couple of sentence answers for each one, some you might not be able to answer like my referees, so will leave blank. You don't need to go in depth with your answers as their social worker will want to meet with you to go over it, this is when they will look for a more detailed answer but ours was done in the style of a conversation.

Our referees were quite taken aback at the style of the questions but said when they met with our sw and she explained them a bit more and actually chatted they felt a lot easier answering them. I think it was just the formal tone of the questions that threw them.

64x32x24 · 05/07/2014 10:16

Our LA did it very differently! Our referees just got a letter asking them to write a reference for us. That's it. No guidance, no questions, nothing. Left them totally clueless! Luckily we have a SW in the family who was able to help!

So if yours is anything like that, you have free reign. I'd suggest by stating how long you have known each of them individually and as a couple, and how often you see them/how close you are.
Then to cover:

  • their (presumed) parenting skills
  • their couple relationship
  • their individual strengths/resilience

(probably lots more but that's just off the top of my head!)
And, to make it 'effective', remember to always use examples. Anyone can write 'they have a really strong relationship' but it doesn't mean anything. But if you can continue, 'For instance, when x had a personal crisis, y realised nearly before x did herself, and gently supported her through it by ...'. Or, 'I am certain they will be brilliant parents. Whenever they have spent time with my children, they have ...'

Hope this helps!
wonderpants · 05/07/2014 10:51

My advice would be to focus on what they have to offer to a child who has had negative life experiences and losses, rather than why they 'deserve' it, if you get me?
It is a subtle difference really!
Hope everything goes well for them!

KristinaM · 05/07/2014 10:59

YY I agree that you need to evidence things, rather than just gush about how great they are.


Don't say anything about them " deserving " to get a child , SW don't like the implication that adopted children are a consolation prize for those not lucky enough to conceive.

Don't say how desperate they are to have children, even if they are.

Don't say anything that implies you have a clear idea about the type of child they should adopt eg " our whole family are looking forward to welcoming a new baby " " John is looking forward to playing football with his new son "

You need to talk about what your sister and BIL have to offer a child /children who have had a difficult start in life. Do talk about their strengthsand their skills , the problems they have faced in life and how they have over come them.

Eg redundancy, family illness, death of a parent or grandparent

You want to show their coping skills, how they face problems together in a constructive way . How their skills/personalities complement each other . How they use the support of family /friends /community groups etc

Don't pretend that your sister and BIL have had a perfect life /marriage - it's not plausible and it's not what SW are looking for. They will be adopting a child who has had problems in life and will probably have more -they need families who understand this, who know that it's NOT the same as raising kids who are born to you . Who can use their life experience and skills to help their child and , if necessary, advocate for them .

KristinaM · 05/07/2014 11:00

Oops x posted

Wonder pants put it so much more succinctly !

thornrose · 05/07/2014 11:05

They are also checking that the potential adopters have a good support network. You could mention how supportive your family is towards their plans and how you would welcome an adopted child into your family.

Maryz · 05/07/2014 11:26

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

poshfrock · 05/07/2014 12:40

Thank you all so much. This is absolutely brilliant and just the sort of guidance I was looking for. This is one of the reasons why I love MN so much.

They have been through redundancy, family illness and the loss of a parent ( both of them) so lots of overcoming adversity. They have lots of nephews and nieces ( including my kids) and they are brilliant with them. She looks after them for me in the holidays sometimes ( she is a teacher) when I have childcare gaps and they all love her to bits. They are named as my kids guardians in my will. The whole family is very supportive on both sides.

We live about 100 miles apart so wonder how that will work with her LA. Will they send someone to see me from her LA or will they outsource it and get someone from my LA ?

Thanks again. This is very helpful.

OP posts:
Italiangreyhound · 05/07/2014 12:53

My social worker interviewed my sister in person even though she is a four hour round trip away!

excitedmamma · 05/07/2014 21:54

social workers love any excuse for a day out!! Grin

TittyNotSusan · 05/07/2014 23:07

It's always the things you don't expect that can be a problem.

I gave two friends as referees. One phoned me after her meeting in a stew because she'd mentioned that I'm named as guardian to her two kids, and she thought they might turn me down in case I needed to look after her kids! Obviously this was ridiculous but she was so scared of saying the wrong thing.

My other friend thought it all went really well, but she'd emphasised how independent I am (lone parent with one DD) and how I rarely ask for help or need anyone else. This got flagged up as a concern. They thought I might not seek help if things got stressful. It's total rubbish - in fact I ask her loads for help eg emergency pick ups if I get stuck at work etc. She just thought it was the right thing to say!

BTW my parents live 150 miles away, so I arranged for SW to speak to them when they were visiting me. She was grateful for this, but was prepared to drive down if it hadn't worked out. I expect they'll go there.

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