Count it all joy when you face various trials . . . the testing of your faith produces patience.

These words from James 1:2-4 were my daily bread seven years ago. My husband and I had recently miscarried our first child, and it was followed by two years of unexplained infertility. We always assumed we could have biological children, though we both had a heart for adoption. Unsure of how the Lord would accomplish the former, we decided to move forward with the latter.

I imagine many couples find their way to adoption the way we did. But the decision to adopt leads to a host of other decisions that can be overwhelming and costly — emotionally, and often financially. Adopt privately, or go through the foster care system? Domestic or international? Boy or girl? Baby, child or teen? It can be hard to know where to begin.

Scripture counsels us to pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and also challenges us to count the cost before building a tower, so we may know if we can complete it (Luke 14:28). Here are three truths that I believe are particularly valuable for anyone considering adoption, a highly intensive ministry of discipleship.

1. Adoption is sanctifying.

Adoption reveals Christ’s love in us, but it also reveals our brokenness. In fact, few things expose the sin in our lives as readily as our closest relationships.

Indeed, it’s one thing to parent your own biological children, and another thing entirely to choose a child whose life is a black box filled with baggage and unknowns. Only the wisdom of the Holy Spirit can help guide our thoughts, emotions and responses in these situations, and purify our own hearts in the process.

2. Adoption is symbolic.

There are a number of pictures that God uses to describe his relationship with us, but first and foremost, He is our Father.  

In the New Testament, Paul makes it clear that we, as born-again believers, have been adopted by God, and as a result of His grace, we too are heirs with God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). In essence, adoption is yet another opportunity for us to reflect the heart of God to the world.

3. Adoption is service to the Kingdom of God.

Adoption is more than “a nice thing to do.” It’s more than merely meeting one’s desire for children. It’s a fulfillment of the Great Commission — a chance to make disciples in our homes. Not only does Isaiah 1:17 challenge us to seek justice, correct oppression and bring justice to the fatherless, James 1:27 further exhorts us that religion in its purest form is caring for orphans and widows.

In my life, the Lord provided miraculously as we moved toward adoption. The very month that we were licensed to adopt (and just weeks after learning that I was pregnant for the second time), my husband and I were asked to take in a newborn from the foster care system. We received that a little boy, just two weeks old, needed a home. And then we were told something extraordinary: “His name is James.”

Maybe you’re not sure if adoption is right for you, or maybe your spouse is on the fence. Perhaps you’re a single adult with a heart to adopt but have questions and uncertainties unique to your season of life. I hope you will be encouraged that God is in control of the trials and circumstances that are surrounding you right now.

As you wait on Him to reveal His plan for you as it relates to the Kingdom work of adoption, may you experience His pure joy.