The agency will probably ask you for the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three or four individuals to serve as references for you. These might be close personal friends, an employer, a former teacher, a co-worker, a neighbor or your pastor. The social worker will either write a letter or talk to your references on the telephone, asking questions about you that you have already answered yourself. These would address such areas as your experience with children, the stability of your marriage, if applicable, and your motivation to adopt.
References are generally used to get a complete picture of a family's application and an idea of their support network. Approval would rarely be denied on the grounds of one negative reference alone. However, if it were one of several negative factors, such as ill health, a questionable criminal record and a poor work history, or if several of the references were negative, the agency may not approve the application.
You should pick as references people who know you the best. If possible, they should be individuals you have known for several years, who have seen you in various kinds of situations, who have visited your home and know of your interest in children, and who are also able to comment on your lifestyle.They will be the most useful and compelling references for the social worker completing the home study.
Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse