Russell D. Moore. Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009. 230 pp.
Before I realized it, I finished it. I couldn’t put it down. Granted, I was reading rather quickly (as D. A. Carson often says, “There’s reading and there’s reading and there’s reading“). This is definitely worth re-reading more slowly. The writing is unusually engaging and the message compelling.
Here’s one moving part of the book (pp. 43–44, 46, 56):
When Maria and I at long last received the call that the legal process was over, and we returned to Russia to pick up our new sons, we found that their transition from orphanage to family was more difficult than we had supposed. We dressed the boys in outfits our parents had bought for them. We nodded our thanks to the orphanage personnel and walked out into the sunlight, to the terror of the two boys.
They’d never seen the sun, and they’d never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or felt like they were being carried along a road at 100 miles an hour. I noticed that they were shaking and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance. Suddenly it wasn’t a stranger asking, “Are they brothers?” They seemed to be asking it, nonverbally but emphatically, about themselves.
I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “That place is a pit! If only you knew what’s waiting for you—a home with a mommy and a daddy who love you, grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and playmates and McDonald’s Happy Meals!” But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid, but they had no other reference point. It was home.
We knew the boys had acclimated to our home, that they trusted us, when they stopped hiding food in their high chairs. They knew there would be another meal coming, and they wouldn’t have to fight for the scraps. This was the new normal.
They are now thoroughly Americanized, perhaps too much so, able to recognize the sound of a microwave ding from forty yards away. I still remember, though, those little hands reaching for the orphanage. And I see myself there. . . .
The trauma of leaving the orphanage was unexpected to me because I knew how much better these boys’ life would soon be. I thought they knew too. But they had no idea. They couldn’t conceive of anything other than the status quo. My whispering to my boys, “You won’t miss that orphanage” is only a shadow of something I should have known already. Our Father tells us that we too are unable to grasp what’s waiting for us—and how glorious it really is. It’s hard for us to long for an inheritance to come, a harmonious Christ-ruled universe, when we’ve never seen anything like it. . . .
I do want to see the orphanage again. More importantly, I want to leave it again. Maybe Benjamin and Timothy and I will take a picture together in front of it before we leave, to hang on our wall at home. I want to look in the backseat and see no hands reaching backward. I want to see two young men, maybe with sunglasses on, looking forward, smiling into the sunshine ahead of them. I can only pray that I’ll do the same as I see my own orphanage in the rearview mirror.