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Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
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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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2009
Let me start out by stating that this is a great book. This is the best discussion of either adopting a child or the doctrine of adoption that I have ever read. Russell Moore writes as a theologian, pastor, father of four children (two adopted), and adopted son of God; and he appears to fill each of these roles better than most men fill any one of them. Furthermore, each of these roles was crucial to his writing this excellent treatment of the subject.

First, this book fills a gap that has been left open for a long time: a wide market appeal to Christians for adopting because of our own adoption. I have heard others state similar claims, but until now, this information was scattered throughout my library of books and sermons in the form of random quotes and appeals. Moore offers a focused discussion that is just as useful for the seminary student as it is for potential parents. I will highly recommend this book to anyone considering adoption, discouraging adoption, or studying the theology of adoption.

Second, this book weaves theology, biography, and appeal into a wonderfully engaging read. The first half of the book is heavier on theology than the remainder, but the entire book reads like an enjoyable discussion one might have over coffee or a beer.

While this book does read like a story or conversation, it is a conversation not easily forgotten. Moore's story will cause tears and his appeals will bring conviction. He holds nothing back in sharing his experiences, and he makes no apologies as he preaches to his readers (I have a feeling that he has preached all of this to his local church). This book will make a difference in the life of each reader.

His goal is clearly stated in the subtitle: to make adoption a priority for Christians and churches. A few quotes will make his aim even clearer, and should provoke everyone to pick up this book:

"Our churches often don't "get" adoption, first and foremost, because they don't "get" God."

"Adoption is not just about couples who want children - or who want more children. Adoption is about an entire culture within our churches, a culture that sees adoption as part of our Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself."

"Here's where, I think, the nub of the whole issue lies. Adoption would become a priority in our churches if our churches themselves saw brotherhood and sisterhood in the church itself rather than in our fleshly identities . . . Of course that's hard to imagine, when so many of our churches can't even get over differences as trivial as musical style."

"Ultimately, this book isn't really about adoption at all . . . It's about Jesus."

I believe this book will have a significant impact on many Christians and churches. Every pastor needs to read this book and communicate its truths to his church. Adoption isn't a priority for most churches, but it is a priority for God. If this previous statement caused some curiosity, then go read the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2010
There seems to have been a lot of excitement surrounding this book which is, frankly, surprising for a book on adoption. I expected this to be a niche book, consumed by those contemplating adopting a child or by skeptical family members trying to understand the motivation for choosing to adopt. Moore's book spans the gap between personal vignette and theological treatise. Any book on adoption is going to be intensely personal, and Moore doesn't spare any tears in describing the process he and his wife went through before the Lord impressed international adoption on their hearts. And yet, I didn't turn the close the back cover of the book thinking about what a wonderful story it was about the Moore family. Rather I closed the book thinking of how great a God we serve to have adopted us into His family.

And that's why this book is truly something special. Rather than argue from a "this is what my family did and you should too" perspective, Moore spends the first three chapters of Adopted for Life passionately explaining our adoption as sons of God. God could have planned to justify us, sanctify us, and glorify us without making us members of His own household, Moore argues. But that isn't what He has done. He has made us his legal and relational family, meaning that we are co-heirs with our Brother, Christ Jesus. As such, the gospel is all about adoption. The good news is about God adopting wretched sinners into His own family. The church is not like a family. The church is our family.

I'm not typically an "everybody needs to read this book" kind of person. I think it's the height of arrogance to assume that everyone is going to be transformed by what God has recently revealed to me. There are many others who are already much further along the path. But I've never read a book that has so clearly and so freshly explained the relationships within the family of God before. The first three chapters of this book are relevant to absolutely every churchgoer. We don't talk about adoption much within the church. But it's one of the cornerstones of our hope in and love for our Father.

Moore refers to the idea that adoption is plan-B, only for those who cannot have children on their own. Wrapped around his own testimony of committing "genetic idolatry," he states, "The protection of children isn't charity. It isn't part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps. It's spiritual warfare." And again, "Not every believer is called to adopt children. But every believer is called to recognize Jesus in the face of his little brothers and sisters when he decides to show up in their lives, even if it interrupts everything else."

The remainder of the book discusses different challenges in adoption, from interracial differences to the legal ramifications of domestic adoptions. Throughout the whole the process, each issue is continually examined from through the light of what Christ has done for us and the eternal realities that surround adoption. It certainly is a messy process, but then again so was our adoption into the family of God.

One great blessing God brought into my own life was being able to watch as a young student my college discipler and his wife adopt a baby boy from Uganda. Pictures of unwanted babies in flea-ridden Russian orphanages and undernourished orphans in Ghana easily become guilt-laced white noise under the sheer feeling of helplessness to make any kind of difference. But putting a face and a personality behind the concept of an orphan child rescued and adopted into a fiercely Christ-centered home strips away that feeling of helplessness. Meet Moore's children in this book, and the self-deceiving lie of helplessness to make a difference will dissolve very quickly.

My appreciation for this book is probably evident from what I've already written. As a church, we're called to be at the forefront of adoption. This book would be a good place to start for anyone who wants to know how he or she can respond being an adopted child of God. Not everyone is called to adopt. But we're all called to participate. As Moore writes, "The Father adopts children, and we're called to be like Him. Jesus cares for orphans, and we're being conformed into His image. If you're in Christ, you're called to be involved in this project somehow."

Nate Brooks
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 14, 2010
A few months ago, two of the blogs that I follow regularly both commented on this book, and I was interested. While Kristie and I have talked about adoption from time to time, I'd never really want to read a book on the subject. For some reason, I thought it would be a list of reasons how we can navigate through of tower of bureaucratic paperwork and nefarious dealings overseas, while making the newly adopted kid feel at home in his new bed. Perhaps this idea of adoption books reflected my view of adoption itself. More recently, our good friends Mark and Jennifer are planning on a temporary move to Thailand next week to finalize the adoption of their daughter. This pulled the topic of adoption to the forefront of my mind, and I ordered the book.

Adopted for Life is primarily a work of theology, using the doctrine of adoption as a framework for the book. Moore uses the idea that we, as Christians, have all been adopted into a family, leaving behind the filthy orphanages of the world and becoming heirs of the living God.

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God" (Galatians 4:4-7).

Since we are no longer orphans but sons, Christians should have an especially sensitive heart for the orphans in the world. We are told to care for the widows and orphans as an act of justice. This focus is the one in Moore's book, not telling us the best agencies or the most accommodating countries for adoption. We should adopt mainly because we were adopted.

Our worldview leads us into being a part of families and churches where adoption should be the norm, not the exception. Who more should care for the fatherless than the ones who were once themselves fatherless and homeless?

In addition to the powerful content, Adopted for Life is creatively written. Moore has a readable style that is concrete and vivid, funny, and honest. I feel like I know this man after reading this, or, at least, I feel like I want to know him more. Because of this, I highly recommend this, wherever you are in thinking about adoption.

As soon as I closed the book, I was online looking into agencies to see what God has for us because I am grateful to no longer be in the "cosmic orphanage."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2010
Adopted for Life by Russell Moore

How often have had experience where you end up thinking to yourself "I definitely did not think about this before entering upon this venture." I can think about several examples. Clearly marriage and parenthood are two such examples. No matter how hard I seem to prepare myself for things, there is always something that sneaks up on me.

After reading this book, I felt like I got to go through the author's experience of being an adoptive parents of two little boys from Russia. I came away from the book pondering all of the little things that I would have never considered. For instance...

If you adopt two children of the same race, how will you react when people ask "are they siblings?"

If you adopt a child of a different race than yours, will all of your family members openly welcome that child into their family?

How will you react when people ask you about "your own children" as if the adopted children are second class citizens in your family?

What do you say when an adoption agency asks about physically punishing your child?

How much do adoptions actually cost?

Along with the details, and unexpected twists and turns of adoption, Russell Moore leads the reader through a very biblical basis for adoption, reminding us that our own Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was adopted by Joseph of Nazareth. Not only was Jesus adopted though, but we are adopted sons of the Living God.

Theologically this book is very solid. Practically the book is very helpful. Thankfully though, one thing that Russell Moore avoids is the "how to" part of adoption. He goes into some details of different kinds of adoptions, but you will not find information on how to contact different agencies. I believe this was done on purpose. Anybody with a connection to the internet can find what he or she is looking for in this area.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anybody who follows Christ whether you have a heart to adopt children or not. Allow God to use this book to open your heart at the very least to aiding others as they pursue adding fatherless and motherless children into their own families.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2009
Evangelicals are at the forefront of a grassroots movement of families adopting children from other countries. Christian celebrities like Steven Curtis Chapman and Clay Crosse have helped to publicize the joys and trials of adoption. Christian preachers have begun teaching others how the gospel is put on display by families who minister to orphans in this way. I personally know of a number of couples who are involved in cross-cultural adoption.

Russell Moore's new book, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches (Crossway, 2009) provides a theological foundation for the adoption movement. In this book, Moore successfully weaves together three strands of material:

First, he tells the story of his involvement in international adoption.

Then, he sets forth a biblical theology of adoption.

Finally, he offers practical suggestions for those considering adoption or those interested in supporting others who want to adopt.

Rarely do I read a book that seeks to accomplish three different purposes and yet manages to succeed at each one. But Adopted for Life delivers what it promises at every level.

Let's begin with the personal testimony. Russ Moore tells the story of how he and his wife, Maria, traveled to Russia to adopt two young boys, Benjamin and Timothy. He describes the emotional pain of infertility and the tragedy of miscarriage. He treats the desire for offspring as God-given, and yet he recognizes the selfishness that can take root even in this desire.

Moore exposes his own faults throughout the adoption process. His vulnerability adds weight to the narrative. He recounts careless words that he later came to regret. Moore's authenticity helps readers see themselves in his story.

The book also contains some heart-wrenching scenes in the orphanage. Moore describes the horror of walking into a room lined with baby beds, and yet not hearing the cries of children. The children had long discovered that tears were useless. No one was coming. Moore also describes his children's adjustment to American life:

"We knew the boys had acclimated to our home, that they trusted us, when they stopped hiding food in their high chairs. They knew there would be another meal coming, and they wouldn't have to fight for the scraps. This was the new normal." (44)

Later on, Moore relates how God blessed him and his wife with biological chidren as well. But readers quickly discover that the Moore household does not distinguish between biological and adopted children. Adopted is a past-tense verb, not an adjective for the present.

In addition to recounting his personal narrative, Moore sets forth a biblical theology of adoption. The theological portion of this book truly surprised me. Before picking up Adopted for Life, I thought I knew how the metaphor of adoption serves as one way of speaking of salvation. What surprised me was just how incredibly practical the doctrine of adoption is. Having been through these experiences and having reflected upon them deeply, Russ Moore is able to tease out implications from the doctrine of adoption that I had never considered.

Moore believes our churches should be more like households, and he calls the church to foster an atmosphere of adoption. The gospel truth that we are orphans, adopted by God, is put on display by churches that encourage adoption. Adoption brings us into the worldwide family of God. Jew and Gentile alike are brothers in Christ.

"Our adoption is about more than just belonging. Our adoption is about the day when the graves of this planet will be emptied, when the great assembly of Christ's church will be gathered before the Judgment Seat. On that day, the accusing principalities and powers will probably look once more at us - former murderers and fornicators and idolaters, formerly uncircumcised in flesh or in heart - and they may ask one more time, `So are they brothers?' The hope of adopted children like my sons - and like me - is that the voice that once thundered over the Jordan will respond, one last time, `They are now.'" (57)

Moore is not content to leave the theology of adoption at merely the level of individual salvation. He shines a spotlight upon the implications of this doctrine for the church - the community of the adopted.

"When we adopt - and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities - we're picturing something that's true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise. And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters." (73)

The theological sections of this book are woven into the narrative. Do not expect narrative in one chapter and then theology in another. The narrative informs the theology, and the theology informs the narrative.

Moore also offers many practical suggestions. He gives good advice to those who are considering adoption, those facing infertility, and those who would like to be foster parents. He asks very pointed questions that go to the heart of people's motivations for wanting to adopt. He helps parents understand how to treat their children after adoption. His insights here are valuable because he has been through the process.

The book ends by tying everything to the gospel:

"The gospel welcomes us and receives us as loved children. The gospel disciplines us and prepares us for eternity as heirs. The gospel speaks truth to us and shows us our misery in Adam and our glory in Christ. The gospel shows us that we were born into death and then shows us, by free grace, that we're adopted for life." (214)

Well said. Adopted for Life is one of the best books I have read this year. It combines robust theology with personal experience. It serves as a powerful pro-life apologetic, and it demonstrates the power of the gospel when acted out by a faithful community of believers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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