Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Review: Adopted For Life

Dr. Moore has done a wonderful service for orphans and the church alike with Adopted For Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christians Families & Churches.

The church has so many competing priorities clamoring for attention (and money) and many of them are only superficially Kingdom work. Adoption can be lost in the shuffle but we lose sight of adoption at our peril. There is a consistent theme of God’s concern for the orphan and the fatherless throughout the Scriptures and adoption of an orphan into a loving family is the single greatest picture of the grace of God we can be involved in. We can talk and talk about theology all day long and quote our favorite Puritan to impress people at a party but when we adopt a child we show people the Gospel instead of just talking about it. There are of course other ways to care for orphans, such as supporting groups like The Haiti Orphan project, but adoption is one of the clearest pictures of the Gospel a Christian family can engage in.

Adopted for Life is a comprehensive survey of adoption and it attempts (and for the most part succeeds) in covering the gamut when it comes to adoption, looking at the theological underpinnings of adoption, examining practical considerations, offering helpful advice, hammering those who oppose “cross-racial” adoption and providing advice for the Body of Christ on ways to support adopting parents and foster a culture of adoption in the church. Because Dr. Moore covers so much ground, none of the sections gets a truly thorough treatment but this book is clearly aimed at introducing people to adoption and has to cover a lot of ground. As far as an introductory survey to the topic, I can’t imagine there is a better treatment out there.

I liked the way he dealt with our usual view of adoption, which is often seen as something to be considered as a last resort when a couple is unable to have children. After trying everything you can ethically to have a child, when you finally give up, then consider adoption. I would love to see families that have children “naturally” and are adopting children at the same time. What a wonderful blessing that would be for that family, for the children being adopted and for the witness of the church! I also appreciate that Dr. Moore has no use for those who question cross-racial adoptions. There are a ton of children who are not Caucasian who need families and a lot of Caucasian families who are in a position to adopt. Should we deny these children a home because they have different color skin or differently shaped eyes?

The weakest chapter dealt with adoption and the local church. While I think Dr. Moore’s advice would be great in a traditional church setting, I think it also is held captive by our traditional understanding of what the local church is, how it should function and where its priorities should be. Dr. Moore calls on the local church to financially aid couples seeking adoption but suggests restricting aid to “members” and he reassures readers that the local church can financially support couples without interfering with the general budget. Given the very real call to care for the orphan in Scripture and the silence in the same for most of what local churches spend their “general fund” money on, i.e. buildings and staff, I would rather he call on local churches to make adoption a priority over hiring another pastor or buying the latest, greatest VBS curriculum. If you don’t have room for adoption in your general fund, your general fund priorities are out of whack.

In some places, especially early on, Dr. Moore gets a little scattered. His thoughts sort of meander a bit which can make it difficult to follow his reasoning but he also is often putting down his own personal experiences and the emotionalism of those events makes it hard to write cogently. He also tends to force Scripture into his ideas, I found some of the parenthetical Scriptural references to be a bit of a stretch. I am always a bit nervous when you toss a parenthetical Scripture reference at the end of a sentence with no context.

Overall though, this as an excellent book, a great resource for those who are thinking about adopting and those who are personally familiar with adoption or even people who have no prior interest in adoption. I would hope it spurs people to action and not be a read, think “That’s nice” and return to the shelf kind of book. Dr. Moore’s bold and passionate plea for the fatherless should move Christians to respond. We already have eight kids of our own so we seem like unlikely candidates for adoption but the call of the fatherless is an insistent one. There is no lack of orphans waiting for adoption and if we can find a way to overcome the financial barrier and regulatory hoops, we would love to welcome a child into our home and family. It is what God has done for us.

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