Adoption Book Reviews pt. 1

Nonfiction

adoptedforlife

Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches
by Russell D. Moore

This is the very first adoption book I read, and I have since recommended it to dozens of other people seeking to learn about orphan care from a Christian perspective. When we told my family that we were going to adopt, I gave this book to my mom in hopes that it would help her understand our decision. She dutifully read the whole thing, and then I received the following text: “I finished Adopted for Life! I learned a lot and cried a little along the way. Thank you for asking me to read this. I am one of the millions of Christians he talked about in the book who have not thought much about adoption (at least before this year!).” She’s right — most Christians ignore Scripture such as James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Russell Moore does a great job exploring what it means to be a Christ-follower in a world full of children without parents.
Favorite quote: “Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as mere metaphor.”

luckyfew

The Lucky Few
by Heather Avis

10/5 stars. I actually listened to the audiobook of The Lucky Few, which would typically mean that I wasn’t as emotionally connected to the story as I would have been if I read it. However, this book was read aloud by the author, and I felt like she was talking straight to me. I cried multiple times as she recalled her journey through infertility, deciding to adopt a child, God’s clear insistence that they adopt a child with Down syndrome, adopting a black child through the foster system, and then adopting their third child, a little boy who also has Down syndrome. I especially appreciated learning about her journey with two of her children’s birth parents because that is something I am so nervous and unsure about. The whole book points back to Jesus and reminded me that I cannot fathom what He will do in my heart through our adoption.
Favorite quote: “Today I’m aware of all the times I have said no to opportunities God has placed before me because I think I’m not rich enough, equipped enough, talented enough, strong enough, or crazy enough to say yes. All the times I have mistaken good things for bad. All the times I have allowed the opinions of an ignorant majority to guide my thinking instead of looking to Jesus and his heart in the matter. I wonder how many times we, his children, choose a comfortable no over a terrifying yes – the kind of yes that will lead us to the only place we should ever long to be: in the arms of Jesus.”

tandem

Tandem: A Devotional for Adopting with God in the Lead
by Alison England

It is a stretch to call this book a devotional, in my opinion. Each chapter is a different part of her family’s adoption story in chronological order, and each includes a verse or two. It is more of a memoir of her own journey, and I sometimes felt that she was stretching to apply Scripture to the chapter. One cool thing about the book is that it is attempting to create community within the adoption world – in the last chapter there are instructions on how to join the Facebook group for everyone who has gone through the book. Once I joined, I was surprised at how active the group is!
Favorite quote: “Without question, your adoption ride will be worth every bit of energy. Your ability to withstand the duration and difficulties that may arise hinges upon your understanding that you are on a tandem bike ride – with Jesus in the lead. His greatest desire is for you to truth Him and follow Him.”

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Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father
by Dan Cruver

This short collection of essays is GOLD. It concerns the theology of adoption rather than practical application, so don’t read it if you are looking for a how-to. Each chapter is written by a different author (including some famous names in the evangelical Christian world), and each is thought-provoking, dense, and beautiful. I think I highlighted more than I didn’t, which is rare for me. In addition to helping me think about my own adoption as a child of God and the future adoption of a child into my family, there were sections that were very relevant to church orphan care ministry. Because each chapter is a stand-alone, this book is a great one to read a little bit at a time!
Favorite quote: “Adoption and our care for the fatherless provide a visible demonstration of the gospel. Our adoption of children serves as a window into Christ’s rescue of us. Adoption displays gospel-justice. Adoption displays the patient, persistent, pursuit and sovereign choice of God for us. Adoption displays the heart of God for rescuing a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Because of what God has done for us in Christ, adoption and orphan care are signs that God’s kingdom and rule are present in our world and will one day come in all their fullness.”

Fiction

orphantrain

Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline

I was especially interested in this book due to Gladney’s history with the real-life orphan train (the first orphan train’s last stop was in Ft. Worth, and a Methodist minister began finding homes for the children who were not selected along the way – the first mission of what would later become the adoption agency that will place our child). The book jumps back and forth between an orphan train rider in the 20’s/30’s and a girl in foster care in the 21st century. The orphan train story itself was fascinating, and I know the author did a lot of research before putting pen to paper. Unfortunately, the last third of this book produced more eye rolls than insights for me. The end was cliche and predictable, and the writing throughout the novel often seemed juvenile. This book was short and would be a good weekend read if you’re looking for an easy, yet emotionally-heavy, novel.
Favorite quote: “Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear. The first twenty-three years of my life are the ones that shaped me, and the fact that I’ve live almost seven decades since then is irrelevant. Those years have nothing to do with the questions you ask.”

eleanor

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

It’s hard for me to enjoy a book when I don’t like the protagonist – or more accurately in this case, when the protagonist doesn’t like me. The reason I know that Eleanor Oliphant doesn’t like me is because she doesn’t like anyone. Unsurprisingly, she does redeem herself in the eye of the reader at the conclusion of the book with both a change in heart and a confession of why she is the way she is. However, for the vast majority of the novel, the insight into how she is feeling and what she is thinking caused me to like her less than if I had just been hearing about her actions in the third-person, which is very rarely the case. To the book’s credit, it offers a fictional case study of the monumental impact of parent-child relationships and early childhood trauma, as well as the powerful, redeeming effect of both counseling and true friendship.
Favorite quote: “These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.”

orphanstale

The Orphan’s Tale
by Pam Jenoff

Set in Europe during WWII, this book does not lack in the tragedy, morbidity, and suffering that was indeed characteristic of that time and place. Throughout the novel, I was a little confused to whom “orphan” in the the title refers because most all of the main characters had lost their parents.  I typically don’t like loose ends at the completion of fictional stories, but I actually appreciated the ones that were left at the end of “The Orphan’s Tale”; at least, I preferred that over trying to tie everything together in a really cheesy, eye-rolly kind of way (see “Orphan Train” above).
Favorite quote: “Why are we so hard on one another? I wonder. Hadn’t the world already given us challenges enough?”

71z1USfib5L

The Girl They Left Behind
by Roxanne Veletzos

My favorite aspect of this book was the setting. I had never read a novel set behind the Iron Curtain during the aftermath of WWII, and I am glad to have gained some empathy for people who lived in that time and place. I love reading books based on true stories, which is what drew me to this novel. However, it became obvious due to the dramatic climax and ending, as well as the subsequent author’s note about the true story, that this novel strayed far from real events. Overall, I thought this book was “just okay.”
Favorite quote: “God had turned his back on her, it seemed, for despite her pleas, her silent bargaining, she was still without a child of her own. And yet fragments of hope still existed in her heart, even though she’d have given anything to dispel them. Then all would be quiet. Quiet and still, a land at peace after a long war. Stop wanting, she chided herself over and over, but her heart would not listen.”

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