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In the years since I began reviewing books, I have read titles on a wide variety of topics. But it occurred to me as I considered Russell Moore's title Adopted for Life that I had never read a book that dealt entirely with adoption. Sure, adoption has factored into books on family and books on theology, but never had I read a full-length treatment of the subject. Having heard so much positive press surrounding Adopted for Life I thought it might be wise to give it a read. I'm glad I did.

It might be easy to write off a book like this one, assuming that it only has relevance to families who are actually considering adopting a child. But Moore's ambition goes beyond asking young families to adopt orphaned children. "In this book I want to call us all to consider how encouraging adoption--whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt--can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity and the atrophied mission of our congregation." As Moore explains, "The gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world." It is the gospel that calls us to adopt but it is also the gospel that teaches us how to understand adoption. In fact, "as we become more adoption-friendly, we'll be better able to understand the gospel." And so this book is for anyone and everyone.

It is important to note that this is not a how-to book; it does not provide step-by-step instructions for adopting (since there are already plenty of books that do just that and do it well). "Instead I want to ask what it would mean if our churches and families were known as the people who adopt babies--and toddlers, and children, and teenagers. What if we as Christians were known, once again, as the people who take in orphans and make of them beloved sons and daughters?" No one can claim that every person is called to adopt. But it does seem that all Christians are meant to think about the issue since we all have a stake in it. After all, God himself has a stake in it as the "Father of the fatherless" and the One who tells us that pure and undefiled religion is to comfort orphans.

Through nine chapters, Moore first lays theological groundwork for adoption and then turns to matters that are perhaps just a bit more practically applicable (not that I wish to draw too firm a line between theology and practice). In the first chapter he explains why you ought to read the book, even if you do not want to. In chapter two he explains what some rude questions about adoption taught him about the gospel of Christ. After that he turns to what is at stake in this discussion and then gives pastoral counsel on how to know if you or someone you love should consider adoption. He looks to practical aspects of navigating the adoption process (reassuring readers that it is not nearly as bad as most people seem to believe it is) and then covers some of the uncomfortable questions that arise--health concerns, racial identity, and so on. The seventh chapter explains how churches can encourage adoptions and the eighth shows how parents, children and friends can think about growing up adopted. He closes with some concluding thoughts which tie theology and practice into his own family (in which he and his wife adopted two boys before the Lord opened the womb and granted them two more, though he playfully insists he can no longer remember which of his sons are adopted and which are not!). In fact, Moore and his family figure prominently throughout the book as he describes the joys and challenges of welcoming adopted children to his family.

I know from talking to friends who have adopted that there are good books detailing the practicalities of adopting, whether that involves fund-raising or family integration or any other of the many factors involved. I know as well that there are many good books on the gospel and the doctrine of adoption. But I do not know of any that so perfectly put one within the context of the other. This book would make a valuable read for any Christian; perhaps I say that for too many books; I don't know. But I do know that every Christian stands to benefit from reading this one. I believe it is a must-read for anyone who has ever considered adoption and for anyone who has a friend or family member who is in the midst of it. It is a must-read for any young couple, even those who have never thought about adoption. And it ought to have a place in every church library.

When watching sports you sometimes hear a coach tell his players to "leave it all on the field (or on the court or on the diamond)." This coach expects his players to give it their best effort, to walk into the locker room at the end of the day knowing that they could not have done any better. And I really felt this is what Moore did here; I felt like he put a lot of himself into this book, that it took a lot out of him to write it, and that it really does represent a passionate effort on his part. And it shows. The book perfectly combines the theological foundation with the practical outworking of that theology. It has wisdom for the adopter, the adopted and the families, friends and churches of both. It is undoubtedly one of the best books I've read this year. I hope you'll consider reading it too.
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on May 11, 2009
My wife and I are currently going through the adoption process and as a Christian I have been very disappointed with most of the books on adoptions that I have read. Not all, but many books are humanistic and have little regard for God's role in the adoption process. With "Adopted of Life" Moore does an amazing job of looking at the link between a physical adoption and spiritual adoption while also weaving in him and his wife's own story of their decision to adopt. I laughed and cried as I read this book and gained much insight from it. Dr. Moore does not look on adoption as a negative experience as many authors do but instead focuses on God's grace and plan in the adoption experience. One of the best books I have read, you won't be disappointed.
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on May 11, 2009
Adopted for Life is a compelling, thought provoking book that looks at a theology of adoption. Moore is the dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

This is a very readable book that links adoption and the gospel in persuasive way. Moore has thought deeply about the doctrine of adoption and its intrinsic relationship to the gospel. He has also thought very deeply about adoption as a reality in today's world. He and his wife have adopted two boys and are walking through the process of raising their family. His insights are moving; his style is gripping. As a pastor with families that have adopted, it has given me a fresh understanding of how to apply the gospel in that context.

The first part of the book is densely packed with parallels between the gospel message and adoption. The final chapters deal with some of the issues that adoptive parents face during the adoption process and after, as they raise their families.

Dr. Moore is passionate about this topic and he is very thoughtful of his exposition of pertinent Scriptures. That makes for a credible read. My eyes filled with tears more than once as I considered this vital topic.

I highly recommend this book for potential adoptive parents, for grandparents, for pastors, and for thoughtful Christians who want to be biblically informed regarding this topic.
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on August 9, 2011
I was a young teen when God first started hinting that I was going to be an adoptive mom someday. At the time, I had a rosy picture of adoption. Babies who didn't have parents were matched with couples who didn't have babies- perfect for everyone! In the ensuing years I've become more acquainted with some of the ethical problems with adoption. At this point I have no interest at all in adopting a child a living parent (though I would be happy to foster such children when situations necessitate). I have no interest in competing with other couples for white American infants in a supply-demand market flooded with demand. But I still plan on adoption. Until reading this book, I was pretty set on adopting a healthy infant with no living parents, knowing that my waiting period would likely be longer with those critera.

As a relatively new Christian, the ideas presented in this book about how the theology of biblical adoption should inform the practice of child adoption were brand new to me. I was particularly moved by the idea that God doesn't selectively adopt the most promising available people, and I felt convicted of my pride in assuming that it would be best for me to seek a healthy infant as opposed to an older child or a child with special needs. As a psychiatric nurse, I have a background that makes me uniquely prepared (though no one, I'm sure, is ever really prepared) to raise a child adopted at an older age. Reading this book has likely changed the course of my life in that way.

This book was really reassuring and informative about the basics of the adoption process. He discusses choosing a good agency and letting them help with decisions, raising money, and other details, but mostly he reminds readers that the details of "how" are less important than "what" and "why" and are generally able to be worked out in the end. While every journey has difficult surprises, this reassurance was helpful for me.

Like another review mentioned, the author mentions that he places little priority on teaching his adopted children about their birth heritage. The author's children are white and this may be easier for him for that reason, but I feel (and so does my Hispanic husband) that all adoptions, particularly interracial adoptions, necessitate some special attention to a child's heritage of birth. Children who look different than the people around them need to know about where they come from in order to be proud of their skin color. I was fairly uncomfortable with that part of the book, hence the four stars.

Overall I really enjoyed and highly recommend this book.
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on June 3, 2015
We purchased this book at the suggestion of our daughter who, along w/her husband, was in the process of adopting two sons from Africa; it had been highly recommended to her by a friend who had also adopted. She actually didn't get to read it herself due to all the required reading by their adoption agency.

Well . . . my husband and I approached this book with eager anticipation - and were sorely disappointed. I actually tried re-starting it several times - thinking maybe I just needed to be at a different place personally. I'd check w/my husband - "What am I missing" - The author just seemed so judgmental and insensitive to people interested in their new sons - he was very critical of questions asked (eg - Are the boys brothers? His response - "Yes! - we adopted them and they are brothers!" etc. ) There just seemed to be a rigidity and lack of trying to understand where the other person was coming from - even when they were genuinely interested!

When our daughter and her husband were adopting their two sons, WE - the grandparents were asked the same question many times by family and friends about their sons (who were in reality brothers by birth.)

I loaned the book to our adult daughter for her to read - since it had been recommended for family reading. I asked her the other day what she thought of it and her comment was, "I put it down - I couldn't read it."

So . . .while many liked the book - it wasn't for us. I'm selling it! (and almost hate to - feel that it's toxic on certain levels!)
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on November 14, 2011
There are three things in particular that make this book a stand out among books on adoption.

1. It is theological but not is a dry sort of way. Moore writes about the theological doctrine of adoption, but he does so in a way that makes you want to adopt a child right away in order to demonstrate and exult in the gospel!

2. It is pastoral but not in a sappy sort of way. Moore writes from a very pastoral heart. This is helpful, because as a Christian considering adoption, I came to the book with a multitude of questions. I had questions on everything from the theology, to the practice, to the nitty gritty details, and Moore addressed nearly all of them. He seemed to be quite sensitive to the fact that he was writing for a broad audience, not just prospective adopters. There is something here for everyone, regardless of whether you think you will ever adopt. It is also true that most questions about adoption are rooted deep in our sense of our own identity and how we think about the world and about God. I know that is true because Moore wrote about it so sensitively and pastorally, and I know myself better as a result of reading the book.

3. It is well written. Moore is a very skilled, poignant writer. This is the first book I've read in a good while that I stayed up late reading because I didn't want to stop. He not only explains adoption, he makes you want to adopt.
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on September 27, 2014
Russell Moore Is the president of the ethics and religious liberties council for the southern baptist convention. In my opinion, He's one of the most level headed and loving teachers of the Christian church's stance on social issues.

This book transformed my view of adoption. He illustrates his message with personal anecdotes throughout and backs up his thoughts with lots of scripture and Jesus' teaching.

I've bought this book for about 10 friends and I Highly recommend this book for anyone considering adoption, who has adopted/been adopted, or just interested in the Bible's teaching on adoption.
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on July 26, 2014
A must-read. One of my favorite books. I can never read enough about adoption- it is a huge part of my life. We adopted our oldest son internationally, and we are so thankful for him and blessed by him. The author is so candid about his own infertility struggles (something I never dealt with, thankfully... we adopted because it was our first choice). I love the author's link between physical and spiritual adoption.
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on February 27, 2014
You could give this book to someone who is against adoption, and they'd end up making plans to fly overseas and rescue an orphan. Confirmed everything I wanted and needed to know as my spouse and I pursue an international adoption. A must read for any Christian, or anyone for that matter who wants to know how God adopted us, and why we could be called to adopt others!
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on August 27, 2015
This book came highly recommended by a friend a few years ago. So, when my husband and I decided to lead a discussion group about adoption at our church, we thought this would be a great guide. We were wrong. Though there are some good points, redeeming stories, and glimpses into the depth of a believer's reality as adopted inheriters, the author spends more time on non-essential tangents and condemnation than the topic of adoption. For example, various book chapters explore and condemn abortion at least five different times. Yes, the right to choose is connected to adoption, since pro-life decisions lead to adoptees, but the topic of abortion is not central to God's story of adoption or the calling to adopt. Another example of the author's condemning tangents is when the writer chooses to make a moral stance against IVF and AI birth plans. Why not just stick to the subject of adoption since that's why a reader would choose to read this book?!

My greatest concern was the constant belittling of all people who are not Christians. As a Christ-follower myself, I have learned to recognize God in the most unexpected of places... like a graffiti-filled alley or a top-40-radio hit. Similarly, I see Jesus' values etched in the character and actions of people who do not know Him as Lord. That's because non-believers are capable of BEAUTIFUL acts of kindness, generosity, sacrifice, and care. Non-believers commonly seek out adoption, care for their neighbors, and behave as moral people. So, why repeatedly make the assertion that only Christians act morally, adopt, and care for those in need?

All of the couples in our discussion group were good sports and read the book from beginning to end. However, lots of our discussion time ended up being about ways the adoption metaphor breaks down (God alone is Savior; the author is not a savior to his children and other parents who adopt are not saviors---that is God's role). Our group tried to focus on the good points offered in the book (such as finding ways to prepare your family for your choice to adopt or knowing that race should not predicate an adoption decision), but we struggled.

I certainly would NOT suggest this book to any person I know. I cannot even bring myself to give this book to a local used book company because so much of the content is theologically toxic.
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