I have never read a book that’s main theme was adoption. However with the growth of the ‘adoption culture’ in South Africa and having heard good things about it from my wife, I decided to give Russel Moore’s book Adopted for Life a read.
You might wonder why someone like you should read this book; adoption may be far from your mind, you might still be single, you might not want kids, or maybe you are in the twilight of your life and adoption doesn’t seem a viable decision. But keep reading, because Moore’s goal is not just to get eligible families to adopt children. Moore says, “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.”
It is the gospel that provides the drive for adoption, but the gospel also teaches us how to better understand adoption; Moore puts it like this, “as we become more adoption-friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the gospel.”
This is not a how-to book, although it does give some general guidelines and provides some practical advice. Having never adopted I am not entirely sure how helpful some of this is in a South African context, however much of it is general enough that I reckon it would still be helpful. (Having said that if you have any questions regarding adoption in South Africa, why not mention it in the comments section below; I will try to do a post answering as many as I can find the answers for).
Moore defines his intention when he write, “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?” While not every Christian may be called to adopt, ever Christian must think through the last verse in James’1, where the care of the fatherless is the definition of pure and undefiled religion.
If you have adopted, it is still a brilliant and significant read- filled with huge mirrors to help you see blind spots and think through parenting in ways you may not have.
This book can be roughly divided into two main sections, the first part dealing more with Theology and the second more with the practical outworking of that Theology. Chapter one is an apologetic for why you should read the book, even if you don’t want to. Chapter 2 deals with what rude questions about adoption teach us about the gospel. Chapter 3 looks at what is at stake as we discuss adoption with others. From chapter 4-6 there are a range of practical matters that adoption raises; should one consider adoption, financial issues, the adoption process, cross racial issues and other uncomfortable things. In chapter 7 he speaks to the issue of church involvement in creating an adoption culture. He ends the book with some concluding thoughts that bring together everything he has said with the story of his own family.
In a country where there are an estimated 3.7 million orphans[i], the issue of adoption is something Christians should not ignore. This is not saying Christians must all adopt, but as Moore makes clear, we can and must all be involved. This book wonderfully combines theology and practise in the tapestry of a real personal story. It is not the easiest book I have read, and you will find yourself rereading some chapters and sections, but it is well worth it. I encourage you to get this book, even if you are not really thinking about adoption, it will kindle Christ-like desires and thoughts in your heart, and that’s exactly what we want.
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[i] http://www.unicef.org/southafrica/protection_6633.html accessed 2013-12-09