NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Michael Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan, received a family name in his first adoption, but he found his true identity in his second adoption as a child of God.

Reagan recounts his story of redemption in "Twice Adopted," written with Jim Denney and published by Broadman & Holman, the trade book division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Beyond his devastating childhood experiences with sexual abuse and self-destructive behavior, Reagan’s autobiography offers practical solutions to current issues that confront America’s culture.

"I have written this book because I want God to use my past and the painful things I’ve gone through to bring help and healing to other people," said Reagan, who hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio program, "The Michael Reagan Show" and is a commentator on the Fox News Channel.

If anyone knows about a painful past it is Michael Reagan.

He was "once adopted" by Hollywood stars Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman just three days after he was born to a young, unmarried woman from Ohio. By the time he was 3 years old, his parents divorced and Reagan was raised alone by Wyman.

Writing about a childhood tainted with disappointment and despair, Reagan spares few details about his encounters with sexual abuse, including forced participation in pornographic photos.

In the book, Reagan outlines preventive solutions to the crisis of child sex abuse.

He advises parents to know where their children are at all times and to investigate the people who pay unusual amounts of time with their children. He also advises parents to talk openly about abuse with their children.

"There are no cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic barriers to abuse," Reagan writes. "If a rich kid from Beverly Hills was vulnerable, then every kid in our society is at risk – including your kids."

In an interview following a book signing in Nashville, Tenn., Reagan also advised churches to thoroughly examine every childcare worker in the congregation.

"The Justice Department tells us there are 4 million pedophiles in the United States," he said. "There’s a chance that somewhere in your church you might have some, so churches really need to do background checks to prevent them from working with your kids. [Parents] need to do drive-by checking. Parents can’t just drop off their kids and think they have a baby-sitter service."

Reagan said the abuse he experienced as a child sent him on a path of self-destructive behavior.

The only relief he found from the inner turmoil was the time he spent with his father at his Malibu ranch.

"There was nothing better than working alongside Dad, or hunting ground squirrels with him, or riding horses with him," Reagan recounted. Unfortunately, he noted, those golden moments were all too rare.

In "Twice Adopted," Reagan said he identifies with today’s troubled teens, noting that teen rage can result from parents who medicate their children instead of listening to them; parents who allow the media to saturate the minds of children with violent input; and parents who allow teens to be preoccupied with themselves instead of learning the benefits of helping people in need.

Reagan also encouraged churches to invest in the lives of the youth within their congregations.

"We want to reach out to the inner city, yet we look right past the children in our own church that have the drug problems, the pornographic problems, the sexual abuse problems and the physical abuse problems," he said.

"We want to pretend it doesn’t happen in my church, but it happens in yours, or in the inner city. We’ve got to take a stronger stand within our own churches, and heal our own churches before we start thinking we can heal everybody else."

Reagan’s process of becoming "twice adopted" began with Colleen, the Christian woman he married in 1975 and had two children.

Though they attended church together for many years, it wasn’t until 1985 that Colleen challenged Reagan to let Christ take control of his life.

"Colleen told me what I had to do, and I did it," he said. "I fell down on my knees beside my bed, and I prayed with tears streaming down my face."

Becoming "twice adopted" into the family of God gave Reagan an eternally secure identity and freedom from a painful past.

Prior to receiving Christ, "I didn’t know who I was or where I belonged. My search ended when I was twice adopted by God.

“He is my Father,” Reagan said, “and I am His child."

"Twice Adopted" can be purchased at LifeWay Christian Stores and online at lifewaystores.com.

 

© 2004 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.