Plan for financial costs. Research the costs involved in adoption and figure out what changes you’ll need to make to your budget and savings plans to pay for it. Carefully compare the fees and services of adoption professionals before choosing one. See if you can negotiate a payment plan, and check out various resources for obtaining the funds you need, such as: workplace benefits, subsidies, grants, corporate donations, church benevolent funds, creative fundraising events and activities (like hosting a dinner or auction or planning a walk-a-thon to raise money), and sacrificial saving.

Let the skeletons out of your closet. Be completely honest with social workers interviewing you in the adoption process, knowing that they’re on your side and willing to work with you to resolve issues that may need attention before you receive your adopted child, such as: a chronic medical condition or physical challenge, past struggles with depression or addiction to drugs or alcohol, a prior arrest, unemployment, not owning your home, a divorce, etc. Aim to show your social worker how well you can handle adversity, which is an important parenting skill to master.

Establish boundaries around what kind of child you’ll accept. While it sounds nice to say that you’ll gratefully adopt any child, recognize that you do have a certain kind of child in mind. Be honest about your preferences for gender, age, race, whether you want to adopt just one child or siblings, etc. Think and pray about whether or not you’re equipped to raise a child with special needs, and if so, know clearly which needs you can handle (physical disabilities, emotional problems due to previous abuse, etc.). Recognize that figuring out your boundaries now will help your social worker look for the best child for you and your spouse. Trust God to guide you through the process.

If you’ve experienced infertility, mourn the death of your dream. Give yourself and your spouse enough time to grieve the loss of your dream to have biological kids before you consider adoption. Ask yourselves honestly: “Do we want to be pregnant, or do we want to be parents?”. Take your shattered dreams and the disappointment, anger, and heartache they cause to God and trust Him to transform the ugliness of them into something beautiful.

Prepare for adoptions potentially falling through. Understand that, even after you get the call you’ve been waiting for informing you that a child is available for you, you may not actually get to adopt that child for a variety of reasons (such as birth parents changing their minds). If that happens to you, don’t blame God or the birth parents. Instead, confess your anger and bitterness to God and ask Him to help you forgive, heal, and hold onto the hope of adopting another child when the time is right.

Prepare for an older child. Rather than just assuming that you’ll adopt an infant, think and pray about potentially adopting an older child. Expect that, if you do decide to adopt an older child, you’ll have more information about his or her development and medical history than you would with an infant, but you may have to deal with challenges like emotional scars caused by your child’s previous experiences. Ask God to give you and your spouse unconditional love for an older child, a sense of humor, wise problem-solving skills, inner strength, flexibility, and a willingness to seek support. If you do choose to adopt an older child, provide him or her with plenty of rest, consistency (like a predictable routine), and time to get used to your home after the adoption.

Prepare for a child from a different race or culture. Recognize that if you decide to adopt a child from another country, your child’s ethnic and cultural heritage will become intertwined with your own. Think and pray about how you’ll handle the racism your family will likely sometimes encounter from others, and how you’ll celebrate your adopted child’s cultural heritage and honor his or her cultural identity.