I had a reason from real life for wanting to read this book. My sister adopted three children recently, so adoption is a subject we've all been talking and thinking about lately. I had a copy of Adopted for Life sent to her first and then decided that I should request a copy for me to review.
Russell Moore wants Christians to be known "once again, as the people who take in orphans and make of them beloved sons and daughters," because, for one, we are called to be like our Father, doing what he does, and our Father "is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters. And second, adoption is evangelistic:
"What better way is there to bring the good news of Christ than to see his unwanted little brothers and sisters placed in families where they'll be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?"
It's this last point that my sister mentioned when she gave me her assessment of this book. She has, as you might imagine, read lots of books on adoption, some by Christian authors, but this book was unique in setting adoption in the context of the gospel. My sister struggled when deciding whether or not to adopt. She is not young and doesn't have a big income, but, she says, she kept coming back to the fact that these children "might not otherwise know Jesus." She found Moore's book to be encouraging, like "a big pat on the back."
Adopted for Life starts with what I'm calling the theology of adoption: What it means that God has adopted us and how our understanding of our adoption as sons of God should influence believers and the church to make adoption of children a priority. The last part deals with things of more practical nature, like paperwork, finances, issues of race and health, how churches can encourage adoption and how we all--parents, children and friends--should think about growing up adopted. But always, the theological and the practical are intertwined, for it's understanding the theology of adoption that guides Moore as he works out the practice of adoption, and the practical questions are answered by modeling God's adoption of his sons. (And I purposefully use the word sons when speaking of our adoption rather than sons and daughters. In Christ, women and girls receive sonship, for we are true heirs of all of the promises.)
Reading Adopted for Life may make you reconsider some of the ideas you may have about the right way to raise adopted children. For example, Moore and his wife don't see their adopted sons' Russian heritage as their true heritage any longer.
"[W]e hardly want to signal to them that they are strangers and aliens, even welcome ones, in our home. We teach them about their heritage, yes, but their heritage as Mississippians. They hear, then, about their great-grandfather, a faithful Baptist pastor from Tippah County. ... They learn about their people before them in the Confederate army and the civil rights movement.
...They share our lives, and our story. They belong here. They are Moores now, with all that entails."
The theological foundation for this view is that when we were adopted by God, our heritage changes:
"Whether our background is Norwegian or Haitian or Indonesian, if we are united to Christ, our family genealogy is found not primarily in the front pages of our dusty old family Bible but inside its pages, in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Our identity is in Christ; so his people are our people, his God our God."
This goes against the usual advice given to parents adopting children of a different race or nationality, but there is theological warrant, it would seem, for raising adopted children without an emphasis on learning about their original culture. I'm still unsure exactly what to make of this, but I'm glad Russell Moore raised this issue.
Though his book is strong on theology, Moore's style is conversational. The text is laced with illustrations from stories of his own experience as an adoptive father or the experiences of his friends and acquaintances who have adopted. Theology and stories--it's an engaging package.
How can I not recommend a book as unique as Adopted for Life? There is no other book quite like it, a book to help you understand your own adoption by your heavenly Father and how you can be like him by helping to make adoption a priority in your family and in your the church. Who will benefit from reading it? Those who've adopted, those who've been adopted, those who are considering adoption, those who know someone in the previous categories on this list, and those who've experienced the adoption that comes through Christ. That's any believer, isn't it?
I'll be donating my own copy--marks and all--to my church library because I think every church library should have one. It would also, I'd suggest, be useful to read Adopted for Life and discuss it in a church study group, since the ideas beg to be implemented in the community of the church