Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Laura Christianson's new book, The Adoption Decision: 15 Things You Want to Know Before Adopting, (Harvest House Publishers, 2007).

The many details involved in pursuing adoption can consume your attention – so much so, that you may just keep moving ahead without really thinking about your decision. But such a big life change will affect you and your family in profound ways.

Here’s how you can think through the various important issues before adopting:

Consider your motives. Ask yourself honestly why you want to adopt a child. Is it truly just because you want to be a parent and let God’s love flow through you as you raise that child? Or do you hope adopting a child will comfort you in your loneliness, help your troubled marriage, heal your grief from infertility or the loss of a child, give you a chance to correct parenting mistakes you’ve made with your other children, give you someone to care for you when you’re old, or enable you to rescue an orphan believing that love alone is enough to meet that child’s needs? If you recognize any of these unhealthy motives, seek professional counseling before pursuing adoption.

Make sure your spouse is on board. Don’t proceed until you and your spouse have had time to thoroughly work through the issues together – and reached an agreement about which you both are confident. Make sure you candidly discuss topics like your age and energy levels, how much freedom you’ll have in your lifestyle after adopting, and how much money it will take to adopt and raise the child. Listen well to each other, and be patient as your spouse works through the issues. Seek counseling if you’re having trouble resolving the issues between you. Pray together often, asking God t direct your decision-making process, help you agree about whether to proceed with adoption, send encouragers who will support you as you proceed through adoption, soften the hearts of loved ones who are opposed to adoption, provide wisdom for the adoption professionals who advocate on your behalf, comfort and direct your future child’s birth parents, and protect your future child.  

Help your family and friends understand your decision. Realize that, as passionate as you and your spouse may be about adoption, some of your family members and friends may not understand why you want to adopt, and some might even oppose your adoption plans. Break the news to them gently and give them the information they need to discover why adopting a child is important to you and your spouse. Consider inviting them to attend an adoption conference or workshop with you, showing them Internet blogs written by people who have already adopted, or enlisting their help to create a special memento (like a scrapbook or quilt) to welcome your future child. Pray for the ability to respond gracefully to their wrong assumptions, and do your best to show them that you’re not a saint, a lunatic, or a superhero for choosing adoption – you’re simply a future parent who wants their support.

Expect and embrace differences. Expect that your future child’s physical traits, temperament, and talents will likely differ from those of you and your spouse. Rather than trying to make your child be more like you, accept your child for who he or she is and ask God to use the differences between you to help you grow. After you meet your child, affirm his or her uniqueness and enjoy what he or she adds to your life.