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1 Reason Why We Adopt by Tony Merida

Pastor and popular author, Tony Merida, shares his heart for adoption and "the Adoption Doctrine."

Adult hand and baby hand, adoption photo.

Sometimes people look at me funny when I'm with my Ukrainian son and my Ethiopian son, since they both call me "Papa."

Observers often have questions.

As I talk with them and share that we have five adopted children, the most common question is, "Why?"

The 1 Reason We Adopt: Theology

What moved my heart the most was the doctrine of adoption. Of course, this isn't what most people expect to hear. They expect to hear about infertility. But my wife and I were led to adopt because of theology, not biology.

The doctrine of adoption is the Cinderella doctrine of Pauline theology. Books about salvation often emphasize justification, redemption, reconciliation and propitiation, but speak hastily—if at all—about adoption. That's really sad because the doctrine of adoption is, in the words of J. I. Packer, "the highest privilege that the gospel offers."

When we fail to ponder the privileges of adoption, we miss so much. It provides incredible hope and assurance to God's people. It's also a unifying metaphor for much of the Christian life.

There are many aspects of Christian faith that relate to adoption, like the Trinity, salvation, the Spirit, Christian growth, eschatology, the church and prayer. The doctrine of adoption also inspires prayer and worship to God. And it reminds us of how we should relate to one another in the church.

God's "Plan A"

Paul uses the word "adoption" in Ephesians, Galatians and Romans. He shows us that God the Father administered our adoption, God the Son accomplished our adoption, and God the Spirit applied our adoption, giving us a new nature, a new position, and the indwelling presence of God that enables us to cry, "Abba, Father!"

God is an adoptive Father—by choice. Adoption was never Plan B for God. It wasn't an alternative solution. It was Plan A. Before the universe existed, God planned on adopting us into His family. Why? Because He is gracious and merciful.

God didn't adopt us because of our attractive merits, but because of His amazing mercy.

Therefore, when Paul tells us to "be imitators of God, as beloved children," part of that means reflecting the adopting love of God to a world in need. Certainly, not everyone is called to adopt, and not every orphan is available for adoption; but every believer is called to imitate God.

The Adoption Bug

We've passed on "the adoption bug" to our kids.

Recently, I was taking my son, Joshua, to baseball practice. He said, "Papa, when I get old, I want to adopt from every country. I want to adopt from Ukraine, Ethiopia, China and Kentucky."

He doesn't understand everything about adoption, but Joshua already has a sensitivity to others in need. His little heart has already grasped the idea that those adopted should extend adopting love to others.

4 Thoughts on Adoption and Ways You Can Take Action 

"Nobody is born into this world a child of the family of God. We are born as children of wrath. The only way we enter into the family of God is by adoption, and that adoption occurs when we are united to God's only begotten Son by faith. When by faith we are united with Christ, we are then adopted into that family of whom Christ is the firstborn."  —R.C. Sproul

  1. The Lord adopted us into His family. Thank Him for that gift of love. 
  2. God chose to adopt us when we did not deserve it. Choose to give grace in your relationships—even when they don't deserve it. 
  3. Adoption compels us to sensitively relate to others. How can you express gentleness and compassion to your wife and children this week?
  4. Adoption models for us a willingness to meet the needs of people outside of our family. Look for a specific way that your family can reach out to another person.

Taken from his book, Ordinary (B&H Publishing), Tony Merida is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC. Tony is married to Kimberly, with whom he has five adopted children.

Learn More About Tony Merida's Book

The cover of Tony Merida's book
Ordinary: "This is not a call to be more radical. If anything, it is a call to the contrary. The kingdom of God isn't coming with light shows, and shock and awe, but with lowly acts of service. Tony Merida wants to push back against sensationalism and 'rock star Christianity,' and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity. Through things such as humble acts of service, neighborly love, and hospitality, Christians can shake the foundation of the culture."

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Words of Advice: For Parents Preparing to Adopt

We thought getting through the adoption process would be a challenge, but it paled in comparison to the adjustment of living with new children in the house.

Tony Merida is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C. He also serves as the associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. A leading voice in the growing movement for adoption and orphan care, he and his wife, Kimberly, have five adopted children: Angela, Jana, Victoria, James, and Joshua. His passion for the fatherless is evident through his writing, teaching, and speaking. He is author of Ordinary and its accompanying Bible study, Faithful Preaching, and Orphanology. Tony also serves as a general editor and as contributor for a commentary series with B&H Publishing Group entitled Christ-Centered Exposition.