Far too many children are discarded, abused, and neglected in our country and all around the globe. The good news is that more and more people are seriously considering adoption. But this is a life-altering decision that must not be made lightly. If you are struggling with the decision about whether or not to adopt, then this guide will provide help in making that decision. If you have a desire to adopt but don't know where to begin, you will find help in launching the process. If you already have children placed in your home, you will still find many of the Web links provided to be invaluable.

God, Our Father, Established the Model

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will ... " Ephesians 1:4-5, NASB

The Adoption Process.1

Every adoption experience is as unique as the families, children, and service personnel involved. However, there are certain steps common to every domestic adoption as listed by the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Steps for international adoptions will vary by country, although the steps will be similar to those for domestic adoptions.

Be sure to cover the entire process in prayer!

1. Educate yourself about adoption.
2. Determine what type of adoption you want to pursue.
3. Investigate ways to cover adoption expenses.
4. Select an adoption agency (public local agency, private local or international agency, independent attorney-assisted).
5. Let your agency know that you are serious about adopting.
6. Complete an adoption application.
7. Begin the home study process.
8. Attend adoption and parenting classes.
9. Begin searching for a child.
10. Select a child.
11. Prepare for your child's arrival.
12. Have the child placed in your home.
13. File a petition to adopt.
14. Finalize the adoption.

Key Points to Pray About and Discuss

Many on the FamilyLife team have either adopted or become foster parents. We believe that Christian couples would do well to prayerfully consider adoption or foster parenting. What better way to take a pro-life stance?

This is not, however, a decision to be made lightly. Choosing whether or not to adopt (or foster parent) is a key life decision, so you must seek God's specific direction as a couple. Prayerfully consider and honestly discuss the following topics (most of these topics also apply to singles considering adoption):

* Why do we want children? Or more children?
* What will our legacy be? What is the best way for us to impact the next generation?
* Is God leading us to remain childless or move toward an "empty nest" in order to focus our energies and time elsewhere?
* How would we each rate our desire to adopt on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being a very strong desire)? Why?
* In what ways will this decision positively and negatively affect my spouse and current children?
* How would we each rate our family's readiness, on a scale from 1 to 5, to cope with struggles and adjustments in adoption (5 being very ready)? Why?
* What physical, mental, and emotional issues or developmental delays are we truly not able to handle?
* Are we thoroughly committed, with a sure calling from God, so we will hang in there when life gets tough?

Other areas to pray about and discuss:

* Adoption, foster parenting, or a combination
* Local or international adoption (which country?)
* Obtaining information and support resources
* Timing and approach
* Locating a reputable and reliable agency or attorney
* Sources of funding
* Age range, gender preferences, and sibling groups
* Level of openness and involvement with birth parents
* Appropriate and realistic expectations
* Patience throughout the long, slow process