There are lots of arguments to be made for adopting children, but the only person who can truly decide if adoption is right for your family is you. Moreover, the decision should not be made lightly. Deciding to bring a child into your home is a noble idea to be sure, but not every would-be parent is up to or cut out for it.

Not so fast! You have some thinking to do.

So, before you start buying rocking horses and toys for those children you think you are going to bring home, make sure to spend some time really thinking about whether or not adoption is right for you. This is a big decision. It shouldn’t be made quickly or lightly.

Asking the Tough Questions

There are all sorts of questions you need to ask yourself before calling adoption agencies or making appointments with social workers. “Is Adoption Right for Me? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself” is a great article you can use as a starting point. Consider each question in that article separately and completely, and remember: This isn’t a Buzzfeed quiz. Skewing your answers to get the result you think you want has long-term consequences and will affect your life. Go slowly.

Getting Started

After making a thoughtful and carefully considered decision to adopt, you need to learn as much as you can about the process. There are tons of books and articles you can read. The National Adoption Center has collected a list of the best educational resources that are available and even has an online course that potential adoptive parents can take called “Foster Family to Forever Family.”

Go slowly – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of information available to potential adoptive parents.

Get as much support as you can from wherever you can get it!

Build Support

Your friends and family are going to want to be supportive, of course, but the only people who will truly be able to understand what you’re going through are other adoptive parents.

There are lots of message boards out there that you can join to find support as you go through the adoption process. If you’re working with a local agency, ask your caseworker about local support groups you can join. No matter how easy it may look when a celebrity makes adoption headlines, the process of adopting a child is a long, emotional, and often taxing one. You’re going to need people who understand what you’re going through whom you can talk to about what you’re experiencing. It’s how you will keep your sanity intact.

Remember: Adoption is a big deal and is almost always forever. So, while you might be dreaming of painting a nursery or trying to figure out which rocking horse your future “chosen child” would prefer, it’s important to be careful and go slowly as you try to figure out whether or not adoption is right for you and your family. Only you know what’s best for you.

Erin Steiner lives in Portland, Oregon, and writes about a variety of topics for a variety of websites.