Some friends (not extremely close friends, but more than acquaintances) asked if I would give them a reference regarding their application to adopt a child from a foreign country. I agreed to do so. It is reasonable to assume they wanted a reference from me because I would give a credible reference - I am a professional with extensive experience in the field of family law, addictions, child welfare, etc. I answered a series of questions asked by the agency. I gave truthful, positive information but I included two cautionary comments. First, I mentioned the husband's inability to hold a job. I said I believe this is due to his unwillingness to be disciplined and follow rules (he is one of those guys who is "just too smart" to work for anyone - there's lots of work in his field, but he hasn't worked a steady job for more than a month in the past 6 years, at least). He is, consequently, the primary caretaker for their own 3 year old son, not because he chose that role, but because his wife holds the full-time job which provides them with income, insurance, etc. He has been relatively successful as the caretaker. More significantly, I said that I have concerns about his alcohol and drug use. I acknowledged that I might be more than usually sensitive to that due to family experiences. I said I have not specifically seen his addictions cause problems with his own parenting. The truth is, I downplayed the drug and alcohol stuff considerably. It is clear to me, and to all their freinds, that this is a guy who drinks daily, and smokes pot daily, and has done so for almost 20 years. When his son was born very prematurely and was in NICU for several months, the nurses had to talk with him and his wife about his condition when he came in to visit the child. A recent physical confirmed liver damage in this guy, and he is now being required to attend treatment. Also, the wife and I had talked openly and honestly about his addiction problems, so she was fully aware that I knew he had problems long before she asked me to give this reference. (It's probable that his drug and alcohol use is part of why he can't hold a job, but I didn't make that link clear.) Here's the problem. When the adoption agency began talking with them about drugs and alcohol, the parents asked why these issues were being raised. The adoption caseworker told them there had been a negative reference, and ultimately let them see my reference. The caseworker said she would discard my reference and let them replace it with another, telling them that I had an "attitude" and was "known in the community" for doing this sort of thing. (I discovered this through mutual friends - a couple through whom I met these potential adoptive parents. The couple complained to these mutual friends about what I had done. These mutual friends know the drug and alcohol issues well, they do not allow the husband to care for their own children because of it, and they are supportive of my having told the truth. They told me that had they been asked to give a reference, they would have declined to do so.) I will deal with the breach of confidentiality by the adoption caseworker by consulting the agency. However, I am struggling with the issue of whether I did the right thing in regard to this couple. Did I owe them the opportunity to see the reference before I gave it? Should I have declined to give a reference once I reviewed the reference questions and realized that I could not honestly answer them without mentioning negative issues? I am interested in hearing whether folks here think I betrayed these people and should not have told the truth without notice to them.