As little girls, most women I know dreamed of adopting a baby someday. I did, but as I grew up, married, and began my own family, those dreams of adoption faded. When they were rekindled a couple of years ago and I began sharing with friends, family, and total strangers that our family was going to adopt, almost everyone I spoke with had one of two replies: “I have thought about adopting, but I wouldn’t know where to start,” or “We would love to do that, but we’d never be able to afford it.” Those statements kept haunting me as my family went through the adoption process. I couldn’t help thinking about all the children who might never have a loving home and family just because the adoption process seemed too difficult and too costly.

When my family decided to adopt, we too did not know where to start, and my husband and I had no idea where we would get the money. We had heard that an international adoption cost $30,000 or more, and that newborn domestic adoptions could run anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000! We knew there was no way we could accomplish an adoption under our own power. However, my husband and I also felt that God was calling us to bring home a child, and to spread the word to other Christians that there are millions of children who desperately need people to be involved in their lives. Without families willing to take care of them or take them in, these children might die, fail to thrive, or grow up with no one to love them and point them to Jesus.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other humanitarian organizations, around the world there are as many as 143 million orphaned children (meaning that a child has one parent who has died) and at least 16.2 million of those are “double-orphaned,” meaning that both parents have died. With the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) crisis in Africa and recent world disasters, the number is expected to increase. It is obvious that no one family, church, or community can bring home tens of millions of children, and many orphans are not available for adoption due to their laws or other legal reasons. But if everyone who thought about adoption actually followed through and adopted one child, far fewer children would lie sick, neglected, exploited, dying, and forgotten. Together, Christians can make a difference in the lives of children in need. In fact, we are called by God to do so.

Studies show that, like those who responded to my adoption news, many people think about adoption but not many actually adopt. According to data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), which was conducted by researchers for the divisions of health and vital statistics for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ten million married or previously married American women ages eighteen to forty-four had ever considered adoption, but only 487,000 women – or not quite 5 percent of those who had thought about it – had ever completed an adoption. To break it down even further, more than one-fourth of all women in America in that age range who had ever been or were currently married had considered adoption yet only 1.3 percent of all women in that demographic actually adopted. (2). If a higher percentage of women who considered adoption actually made the decision with their husbands to adopt, and if more people who had never considered adoption were introduced to enough information that they might consider it, the number of orphans in the US and in other countries waiting for a family to love them could be reduced considerably.

Christians are lovingly commanded by God to love others, particularly the innocent, the young, and the poor. If you have ever felt even the smallest pang of curiosity about adoption, the merest flicker of interest in an orphaned child, ask God if he wants to fan it into a flame. Then trust him to take care of the details. As you consider adoption, focus on the resources you do have and let God take care of what you don’t.