As we read the Bible, we can see from passages such as Deuteronomy 24:19 that there are certain people who seem to have a special place in God’s heart:

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

As we move to the New Testament, we see from passages such as James 1:27-28 that “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” God wants us to follow His example. Anyone who has placed his or her trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior has been adopted into the family of God. In other words, we are all adopted. Adoption is the heart of God.

Approximately 125,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. It is estimated that for every child available, there are three to four families trying to adopt that child. Adoption, of course, carries a positive connotation in that it allows a child to live instead of being aborted, enables families to be formed, and restores the dignity of the birthmother.

Negative images

To a young couple struggling with infertility, adoption might be the only way to have a family. However, “adoption” is also a word that has a variety of emotions attached to it, not all of which are positive and good.

Unfortunately, our society and the media do not help to project a positive image of what adoption is all about. More often than not, all we hear about are the children who have been adopted and who have “gone bad,” or about the parents who adopt children and then abuse them. We hear about the birthparents changing their minds and see the two-year-old being ripped from the arms of the only parents he or she has ever known.

However, for every one of those stories, there are hundreds of adoption stories with peaceful and happy endings. Adoption can be a win-win situation for everyone involved. Those for whom adoption has been a positive experience, whether they are the adoptee, adopter or the birthmother, need to speak out and help to create a more positive image and picture of what adoption can be.

Issues to consider

If you have come to the place in which you think and/or know that you are ready to adopt, there are a number of things you need to first consider. The first question that you need to consider is why you want to adopt a child. Now, this would seem to have a simple answer: “Because I want to have children and I am unable to have them the old-fashioned way.” However, this is not always enough of an answer.

I once interviewed a couple in their late thirties who were considering adoption. They were successful scientists with a chemical company and had been busy “finding cures for a myriad of illnesses,” as they put it. Both of them had received several academic degrees.

They had married late and then laid out a clear plan for the rest of their lives. They owned two large houses, one of which was on the water, and two cars. These people were on the fast track to success. Now, they had discovered that they were not able to have children, so they decided to adopt.

When I asked the wife how long she intended to stay home with her baby, she assured me that she would stay home a minimum of six weeks, maybe more. At that point, I suggested that they get a Golden Retriever. In their case, a child was an afterthought, something to round out their already perfect life. This should not be the reason to adopt.

Yours for the duration

The most important decision you will ever make, with the exception of your decision to accept Christ, is to have children, by whatever means. Unlike husbands and wives in today’s divorce-ridden world, children are forever. You can’t divorce your children, and you can’t sell them on eBay.

Your children are yours for the duration. Their reason for being is not to make your perfect life even more perfect. Children are a gift from God (a fact about which you may need to be constantly reminded when they become teenagers). Eda Le Shan, a U.S. educator, wrote this in her book The Conspiracy Against Childhood:

Babies are necessary to grown-ups. A new baby is like the beginning of all things—wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. In a world that is cutting down its trees to build highways, losing its earth to concrete—babies are almost the only remaining link with nature, with the natural world of living things from which we spring.

Every adoption is different

Another aspect of adoption that you will need to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider is exactly what you want and expect in the adoption experience. Movies seem to either glamorize the adoption process or make it look like a nightmare. It is usually neither—although it can be both.

Every adoption is different, because the people involved in each adoption are different. Couples that have adopted more than one child will tell you that each situation has presented very different challenges—and very different benefits.

If you want to adopt a child in order to make your Christmas card photo look more like a Norman Rockwell portrait, you need to stop and think. If you are interested in adoption because you truly believe God is calling you to open your heart and home to a child and that you can provide a better life for that child than he or she may currently have, then I would still say to keep thinking.

Not the easy way

Adoption is often referred to as “having children the easy way.” This is typically said by those people who have either never done it themselves or who have no knowledge of what it takes to do it.

I truly believe that if every couple who wanted a child had to go through what adoptive couples do to have a child, there would be only one child in most families. It is by far not the easy way.

That is why there must be a unified, well-considered agreement between both parents that adoption is the right and best path for them to take. Just as parenting works best when the parents are unified, so does the often long and arduous, even painful, adoption journey.

Once you have given as much thought, prayer and research to this process as you can stand, you will need to take the actual steps of beginning the adoption process. As you begin this journey, please keep one thought in mind: If God intends for you to have a child, you will. If He is calling you to adopt and has prepared your heart for this, He has a child just for you.

It is not unheard of for a couple, after having accepted as God’s will their inability to have children “the old-fashioned way,” to discover that now—guess what—they’re pregnant. God has a plan for your life, and if children are to be a part of that life, just cooperate with His voice and follow His lead.

Staying in God’s plan

Don’t run ahead of what you know to be God’s plan. You will get lost. If you believe adoption is God’s will for you, you need only be obedient to what you believe He is telling you. The outcome of your obedience is His responsibility.

The Bible says that God formed us in our mother’s womb and knows the exact number of days we will be here (see Psalm 139:13,16). If you believe this, then you can also believe that there is a child out there whose days are numbered in your care.

I recently spoke with a birthmother who said that she knew almost from the beginning of her pregnancy that she would choose adoption. Only once did she feel any sense of loss: when she handed her daughter over to the adoptive mother at the dedication service.

It was then that she realized the finality of her decision, but she has never regretted her decision and is completely at peace with what she did. She feels as though she was meant to carry this child for this exact couple, and she also feels that this exact couple was God’s choice as adoptive parents for her daughter.

Excerpted from So You Want to Adopt … Now What? by Sara Dormon with Ruth Graham. Published by Regal Books. Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Graham and Sara Dormon. Used with permission. All rights reserved.