Nov 052011

Adopted for Life by Russel MooreBy many in the adoption community, Adopted for Life is considered one of the foundational books of the Christian Orphan Care movement and author Russell Moore as one of the pioneers.

Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. That is a new position for me: in our parishes, we only have one pastor. Moore is also the adoptive father of two boys from Russia.

This one of the sub-genre of adoption books encouraging adoption and setting the care of orphans as a priority for the outreach of the churches in the United States. They also parallel orphan care and adoption with the adoption God performs for Christians when they accepted Christ.

How To

The book is filled with general practical advice concerning adoption. Moore spends plenty of ink on the important topic of paying for an adoption. Unless you are adopting from American Foster Care, adoptions are very expensive and Moore rightly teaches to avoid debt in this, and all issues. He gives ideas and references for raising funds and encourages the church to help pay for adoptions as normal course of business.

As an adoptive dad, a pastor, and an academic, Moore has encounter many stories concerning adoption; therefore, he offers plenty of wisdom and advice to consider both as an adoptive parent and as a people taking on the call of orphan care.

Ethical Adoption

Martin Luther King, Junior observed that Sunday mornings are the most racist times in America. Moore applies this observation to adoption by asking the question if Christians would make adoption a greater priority if we could see those outside of our ethnic groups as our brothers and sisters. He asks if because many Christians don’t see other ethnic groups in our pews, how can they be family. This hit close for me because I did not understand Hispanics until going through the adoption process of being Gemma home from Guatemala. I now have family there and my views of Central American and Hispanics has drastically changed.

In Chapter 6, “Jim Crow in the Nursery”, Moore gives examples and advice for dealing these important issues. I have to believe God gave us peoples of many colors and thousands of years to figure out how to love as He does. We have a VERY long way to go.


Moore brought up an issue that I have struggled with. I do refer to my adopted daughter Gemma as my adopted daughter. Five of the six people in my family are from various European ethnic groups, one member is all Guatemalan. Moore encourages me not to refer to Gemma as my adopted daughter but as my daughter. He uses the example of their biological son who was born premature. He does not introduce that son as his premature son nor does he introduce his two adopted sons as “my adopted sons”.

He is not encouraging us to hide adoption – rather hard in my family though my wife was once asked if Gemma was the product of an affair – but to encourage a sense of belonging. By referring to Gemma as my adopted daughter when I don’t need to, I could be driving a divide between her and the rest of the family.

It was from this book I first heard the idea not to call them “crisis pregnancies” because no pregnancy is a crisis but a gift; rather, pregnant women in a crisis situation.

Great Commission

Moore wrote, “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.”

This is the philosophy critics have jumped on because it reduces adoption and orphan care as a means to personal salvation rather the life-giving events they are. As I read and re-read chapter 7 in particular, I understood what he was saying because I agreed with the critics on first read.

I believe what he is saying is that for a church community to integrate orphan care into their mission, they must develop the understanding that ALL humans are family, that all life is important, that being a Christian is more than attending a service on Sunday or even reading Scripture. By doing all this, the church must change to become a people who accomplish all this. In doing so, they will become a stronger witness to the world and better able to fulfill the Great Commission.


I recommend this book to all Christians who are: considering adoption, considering being a part of or starting an orphan care ministry, in church leadership, in the pro-life movement.

The book may seem a little preachy (Moore is a preacher) and you may have to read sections a couple of times to unpack what he’s talking about but the effort is worth the wisdom and insight you will gain.