An Open Letter to an Unborn Baby
Russell Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He formerly served as Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. Dr. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective (Crossway, 2004) and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway, May 2009).
- 2011 Jul 18
A pastor on the West Coast emailed me to say that a couple in his church had listened to the audio version of Adopted for Life, and felt God calling them to adopt. The process led to a situation in which, this week, a young woman will give birth to a little boy, and has made an adoption plan for this couple to become his parents. The pastor asked if I’d write a letter to this boy, for when he’s old enough to start asking questions about his adoption and what it means. I’ve changed his name, but this is what I wrote.
Let me start this letter by acknowledging that I don’t know you. I don’t even know whether to refer to you as “Micah” or “Tyler,” since I don’t know whether your parents will call you by your first or middle name. Maybe you’ll end up with a nickname, or, by the time you’re grown, go by “M.T.” or something else. I don’t know, because I don’t know you. Your parents read a book I wrote, and their pastor told me about them, and about you.
But, since you are days away from being born, no one knows you, yet. Your life story is just starting, and there are lots of people who are excitedly waiting for you, most especially your new parents who have been praying for you for a long time. We love you ahead of time.
But, come to think of it, I can’t really say that no one knows you yet, because Someone does. In the years to come, you will probably have hard times of wondering who you are and where you fit. Everybody has such times, some of us a lot. You might be tempted to think that these hardships are because you were an “adopted” kid.
Don’t believe it.
You are no accident. This universe is vaster and more mysterious than you can imagine, and at the heart of it, I believe, there’s a personal Being we call “God.” With millions of people all over the world, and for thousands of years, I believe this God revealed himself in a man named Jesus who taught us to call this God, with him, “Father.”
Jesus had a secret, a secret people wondered about for ages until he showed us just, relatively speaking, a little while ago. He’s not just any other man. In fact, he’s One with his Father from before the universe was. The whole cosmos was patterned after him, and meant to be his. Human beings were made especially to model what Jesus is like, but, long ago, our ancestors, and all of us with them, were taken captive by a spirit-predator, and we’ve only known the slavery of following our own impulses right to the grave. The universe we were meant to rule doesn’t recognize us anymore as what we were meant to be, the children of God.
But Jesus was free of that death sentence. His life lined up exactly with what his Father wanted. He walked into this demon-haunted age, and showed himself to have power over the wicked spirit-beings, and over the curse itself. Then he stood in our place and bore everything we dread the most, and everything we don’t even know enough to dread: suffering, temptation, accusation, abandonment by friends and family, alienation from God, and death itself.
But none of these things were strong enough to hold Jesus in their grip. Because he had nothing to hide from his Father, he was the first person in history to walk out of the grave and into newness of life.
This God of Jesus Christ decided your story. He purposed that you would be born to your birthmother, and that she would have the courage and the love to give you life. He willed that you would be adopted into this family of a mom and dad who love you. He made sure that there was the kind of emptiness in their life that they would yearn to seek after you, right at the time he would bring you to them. And he put you in a family that believes the good news of the old story I’ve told to you above.
My prayer for you is that you see how fervently you are loved. Your birth-mother loved you, or you wouldn’t be here to read this. Your parents love you, and always will, no matter what. Even more importantly, the God who formed you loves you enough to show you in your own life a picture of what he wants for all of us: to be adopted, for life, into his family.
I pray that one day, when you’re old enough, you’ll sense a kind of discontent with your life. I pray you’ll see that this is not because of your circumstances, and it’s certainly not because you were adopted. It’s because you, like all of us, will be a sinner in need of mercy, a spiritual orphan in need of a Father. And I pray that you’ll look to the story your parents believe. I pray you’ll look to Jesus’ bloody cross as hell enough for you, to Jesus’ empty tomb as life enough for you. I pray you’ll learn, if nothing else, to say two things: “Jesus is Lord” and “Abba, Father.” I promise you, he will be there to receive you, to rejoice over you. He always is.
Again, I don’t know you yet. But I look forward to meeting you one day, as your brother. If not in your next one to one hundred years of life, then in the trillions more we have before us in a new creation in Christ. I hope you’ll be there with me with a bustling, uncountable number of ex-orphans like us. It’s only then that you, and I, fully will know what it means to be adopted, adopted for life.
Blessings for a life of peace, joy, and, above all, love,