Adopted for Life Review (Part Four)

Making my way (slowly!) through reviewing the book, Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore. Here are parts one, two, and three. Thanks for reading!

Chapter 5

Chapter Five – “Paperwork, Finances, and Other Threats to Personal Sanctification: How to Navigate the Practical Aspects of the Adoption Process”

Moore writes this chapter simply to provide suggestions about the logistics to Christian couples pursuing adoption. In some ways, this is a reflection on what he and his wife learned throughout their adoption process. He reminds readers that adoption is an intense spiritual battle but that the actual day-to-day process of it might be easier than you’d expect. He admits it can be quite long and tedious, but encourages readers in this area.

Basic Decisions

Domestic… Moore touches on a lot of the basics: foster care adoption, domestic infant adoption, relative adoption, adoption using an agency, adoption using a private adoption lawyer, and so on. Additionally, I was happy to see him refer to snowflake or embryo adoption. This is the adoption of tiny babies being “stored” frozen in their development, deemed “extras” at fertility clinics. Moore discusses his views that it is not unethical to adopt these tiny souls and says, “the adopting parents are no more endorsing the technologies involved than parents adopting from an unwed mother are endorsing fornication” (121).

or International… “International adoption […] has a distinctly Great Commission aspect to it. Many of the cultures from which Christian families may adopt have little or no culture of adoption. […] International adoption can be the means the Spirit uses to proclaim Christ among peoples where Christ is not yet named” (page 121). Moore sees many “pros” to international adoption but also acknowledges a few “cons:” the risk of shady operations by some agencies and in some countries; and the limited information you have about your child’s health, familial, and personal history. Additionally, he acknowledges the risk of a country closing to adoption.

Open or Closed Adoption… Moore shares his deeply felt emotions regarding seeing a photo of one of his son’s birth mother. Seeing her face brought forth many questions and emotions from within, and he recognized the importance of remembering her face for his son. “If I didn’t remember for him, she’d be lost to him” (page 125). And then,

I feel like I’m forgetting her, and I can’t do that. My memory is the only link my son has to his past. My son may never know anything more about his birth mother than what I can describe from that remembered photo, along with my gratitude to this mysterious woman for giving life to my sweet little man. That’s a weighty burden for me as a father, and it will be a unique burden for my son, perhaps, one day. (page 126)

He discusses that the decision is often already made (as was for he and his wife in adopting internationally, and is for most other internationally-formed families) and also that the terms “open” and “closed” often mean different things for different families. He discusses each decision and, as with all decisions in his book, does his best to demonstrate how one’s Christian faith might or could or maybe even should affect the decision.

Paperwork and Home Studies

“If the Lord is calling you to adopt, he’s calling you to sign your name… over and over and over again” (page 129).

Moore says that most adoptees will need an agency and discusses their role. He shares the importance of finding a good agency that you can trust, and he discusses whether or not he feels Christians should only use Christian agencies. He acknowledges that a Christian agency can be helpful – everything from being supportive of the ministry they may be providing to waiting children and birth families to having like-minded personnel to work through post-placement questions and decisions with. Even though a Christian agency might have added “benefits” for the Christian couple adopting, Moore admits that he and his wife did not use a Christian agency and that he doesn’t feel that the agency’s faith classification be the most important thing about them. He stresses that you need an agency that can get the job done – experienced and credible.

Regarding home studies, Moore discusses that adoptive parents must be honest and like-minded with their spouses. He shares a personal anecdote of his own experience and gives specific tips about how to answer a few specific questions.

Finances

Moore says (and I agree) that the issue of finances is often the biggest, first, or most overwhelming question of those interested in pursuing an adoption. He offers some perspective to adoptive parents and encourages us. “Child-rearing itself is expensive, but all kinds of people do it – because it’s a priority, and families adjust their internal economies to fit” (page 136). He discusses briefly that some couples have a conviction against any form of debt while others do not, and he addresses them separately. And he also encourages, “At a more fundamental level, it’s important to know that you don’t always have to know how God will equip you to adopt before you begin praying and planning toward adoption” (page 137).

Moore then shares another personal experience of an acquaintance who gifted Moore and his wife a large sum of money toward their adoption expenses. Moore attempted to reject the gift when his acquaintance shared a word from the Lord:

“Are you telling me you already have all the money on hand that you need for the adoption?” he asked. “It’s already paid for?” I said, “Well, no, but…” This young minister interrupted me. “Well, then, I’m sorry to be disrespectful, but this isn’t really about you,” he said. “I mean, we aren’t in a place where we can adopt right now, but we want to be a part of adoption. We think God is calling us to this. And it seems to me as though maybe you’re too, I don’t know, prideful or something to receive this.” I blinked. He looked me in the eye and said, “Maybe you just need to repent of your pride and self-confidence and just let somebody bless you” (page 139).

In a day and age and culture where we want to guard ourselves from accepting “hand-outs,” being sluggards and prone to sloth, I wanted to applaud Moore’s acquaintance here. I believe that Christ uses his body of believers to care and provide for one another and that we ought to be careful to “guard” ourselves straight out of God’s blessings or the fellowship and community we’re meant to have with our brothers and sisters.

If not everyone is called to adopt and yet all are called to be a part of adoption, then those who are adopting should be grateful for brothers and sisters who want to join in. Celebrate it! Don’t let pride hurt the body.

Waiting For The Call

Waiting is a big part of adoption. For sure, some adoptions are completed with barely any wait at all, but most are marked by seasons of waiting. Moore acknowledges the challenge of waiting, maybe even especially if you’ve arrived at the decision to adopt following a time of infertility or miscarriages. He doesn’t discount the trial that waiting can be.

Yet, he encourages that waiting is something that God asks of us in nearly any situation. “Even when God created humanity as the crown of his universe, he made Adam wait for his queen, creating anticipation for her by showing him in the world around him that ‘there was not found a helper fit for him’ (Gen. 2:20)” (pages 141-142).

There’s something about patience that God deems necessary for our life in the age to come. And so, whether through agriculture or discipleship or bodily development or eschatology or procreation, God makes us wait. And he makes us into the kind of people who can wait. We rejoice in such things, Paul tells us, because we know that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom. 5:3-4). (Page 142)

One more interesting thing Moore says in this chapter is another piece of advice that seems to fly in the face of current adoption thought – it is that regarding bonding time. Moore admits that most social workers encourage the new parents and child to stay a bit secluded from others for a period of weeks or months to help encourage healthy bonding. He allows that this might be necessary in the most dire of cases, but generally says that “such advice is misguided” (page 143).

We don’t bong in isolation from others; we bond together in community. You don’t want to overwhelm your child with new faces, but you want him or her to know that he or she is part of a larger family now of people who love him or her. You also don’t want to rob grandparents and aunts and uncles of the opportunity to be a part of your child’s life from the beginning. An arrival home from adoption is very much like a birth. There’s no shame to this. Don’t treat it clinically. Allow your loved ones to celebrate with you. (Page 143)

Conclusion

Conclusion

Moore shares this final bit of wisdom:

The most important thing for you to know about these decisions is that whatever you decide, you’re not going to wreck God’s plan for your life. Whatever your views about how God’s kingship fits with human freedom, you know as a Christian that God is at work in bringing about his good purposes for you. Your decisions fit, mysteriously, into that overall plan. Don’t worry. (page 144-145)

*****

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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