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In order to adapt to time-varying wireless channels, various channel-adaptive schemes have been proposed to exploit inherent spatial diversity in mobile/wireless ad hoc networks where there are usually alternate next-hop relays available at a given forwarding node. However, current schemes along this line are designed based on heuristics, implying room for performance enhancement. To seek a theoretical foundation for improving spatial diversity gain, we formulate the selection of the next-hop as a sequential decision problem and propose a general "optimal stopping relaying (OSR)" framework for designing such next-hop diversity schemes. As a particular example, assuming Rayleigh fading channels, we implement an OSR strategy to optimize information efficiency (IE) in a protocol stack consisting of greedy perimeter stateless routing (GPSR) and IEEE 802.11 MAC protocols. We present mathematical analysis of the proposed OSR together with other strategies in literature for a single forwarding node. In addition, we perform extensive simulations (using QualNet) to evaluate the end-to-end performance of these relaying strategies in a multi-hop network. Both the mathematical and simulation results demonstrate the superiority of OSR over other existing schemes.