Friday, January 17, 2014

A Most Difficult Writing Privilege---letter for adoption

 Good friends are in the process of adopting a baby. They have asked me to write a letter of recommendation. I am honored, scared, and worried.  My writing skills feel like they are under scrutiny in neon yellow highlighter. 

I have been thinking about this letter for weeks. (I have until the end of January to complete the task.) I think they asked me to recommend them because I have known the woman since she was in elementary school and her husband for over ten years. I do not think the fact that I am writer has influenced their request but it is prominent in my mind. The adoption agency will not know that I am a writer but I know and thus I feel the weight of choosing the perfect words and phrases that will persuade the agency to realize that this couple will be great parents. 

What if I "miss the mark" or worse yet say something detrimental to their quest? What if I neglect to include an important facet of this this couple's profile? What if my sentences are trite and boring? What if I am not serious enough or too stiff in my writing? What if the letter sounds forced and not free flowing with admiration for this couple and their ability to care for a child? How can I write the most enticing letter to this adoption agency?

I finally had enough beating myself up and got down to the task. GBG! God bless Google. I typed in "sample letters for recommendation letters for adoption" and got numerous web sites. Fortunately, I think, they all had about the same format and structure. From each site, I gleaned ideas on how to present facts about the couple and about each person. I learned what salient points need to be mention. I believe I am smart enough to know what not to include. 

These are some tips I learned if you should ever be in a position to write a recommendation for adoption or need to request it of a friend.

1. Be sincere. Communicate that they will take good care of a child.
2. State how long you have know each of them.
3. Reveal that they are a stable couple, financially responsible and able to provide a loving, safe environment for a baby/child.
4. Mention activities in which they are involved especially community activities.
5. Include if there is a support system nearby such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, close cousins and long time friends.
6. Tell how you have seen them interact with children.
7. Find a way to explain what they can teach a child.
8. If you do not know a salient point, do not worry about excluding it. Usually the agencies ask for three letters of recommendation and probably one of the other letters will cover the point.
9. Do not discuss their problems in conceiving a child (if any); the couple will divulge what is necessary. They may want to adopt a child even though they have other biological children or are choosing not to have a biological child. The story and reasons are theirs to tell.

Here are some phrases I found helpful:

--I know nothing in their characters that should prevent/hinder them from being wonderful parents.
--Both are kind and patient.
--They are a pleasure to be around, include others in their activities and join in easily within groups.
--I am writing an unrestricted recommendation letter because....
--When I met "John" I knew there could be no one better for "Anne" than "John." They are loving toward each other and kind to others.
--Please feel free to call at this number (xyz) xxx-xxxx during the day if you have any questions. (This conveys the idea that you have nothing to hide, that you are willing to answer extemporaneous questions and that you fully support their decision to adopt.)
The anticipated end result! (Actors)

1 comment:

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

These are some helpful tips. I just went through writing something similar--recommendation letters for college applications--with the stakes perhaps not quite so high as an adoption, and yet feeling that weight of responsibility that my words might in some way influence the outcome of someone's hopes and dreams.