Real Adoption

Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families

By Russell Moore

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” –Romans 8:15

The paperwork is in order. We have been visited, called, chosen and bought with a price. The Spirit of adoption has been earnestly deposited. And yet it’s not complete. Christians are an adopted people, and a people longing for the completion of that adoption: “we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). All of creation along with our bodies, scattered and buried and dustified, is moving toward redemption, and that redemption is our adoption.

But if redemption is adoption, what does that mean about human adoption? Does it reflect the redeeming love of our God? And if so, should it be a priority in the church? Russell Moore does an outstanding job rooting the practice of adoption in the adoption, God’s adoption of his people.

Adoption is, on the one hand, gospel. In this, adoption tells us who we are as children of the Father. Adoption as gospel tells us about our identity, our inheritance, and our mission as sons of God. Adoption is also defined as mission. In this, adoption tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ. Missional adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned. Continue reading

Understanding Adoption

From a wonderful guestpost over at Reformation 21, Rev. Charlie Abbate discusses the experience of adopting a 16 year old girl from Russia, and the theology behind such an idea:

There was a girl.  Fifteen years old.  She had been to the U.S. the year before as part of this hosting program.  A woman decided to adopt her.  To make a long story short, this fifteen year old girl was all packed up and ready to go home to be with her new American mother when she was told the woman wasn’t coming.  The “why” doesn’t really matter, does it? This girl was abandoned.  Again.  Both her parents died a few years earlier and now her new mother wasn’t coming.

But now, she was coming to America. Again.  And this time, it was her last chance.  She’d be here in June.  In September, she’d turn sixteen years old.  At sixteen, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) won’t allow a person to be adopted.  So what would happen to this girl if she comes here and doesn’t find an adoptive family?

You can look up the statistics for yourself.  Even if you don’t, with little effort, your imagination will carry you to the dark and horrific circumstances that are the reality for a sixteen year old girl, with no family and no resources, on the streets of Russia. This is the story that my wife heard from our friend, which she then relayed to me.  What could we do?  We had to make a decision and we didn’t have the luxury of time. . . .

In my opinion, the doctrine of adoption is sorely under-taught in churches across our country.  Reformed congregations usually have a good grasp of justification by faith.  We get the Biblical truth that, in spite of our sin and rebellion against the holy and living God, God acted according the counsel of his own perfect will to provide a means by which we are saved through faith alone in the finished work of the Son, applied by the Spirit.

But we are adopted. Adopted by the Father! Adopted.  Received into the number of and with a right to all the privileges of the sons of God, as the Confession puts it. We will never be turned away, never be forsaken, and never be abandoned.  In other words, because of God’s amazing grace, we will never face the prospect of what our oldest daughter faced and so many like her around the world face daily: abandonment. Orphaned. Left alone.

Rather, loved by God and called as his, we are secure in God’s electing love.  What a tremendous truth!  What tremendous hope we find in the doctrine of adoption!  And what a blessed opportunity, to live that truth and walk in that hope we have, by adopting children into our own families, children who would otherwise never see in real life what God has done for all of us as Christians.