[Avodah] Adopting Outside the Community

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Tue Jan 14 08:32:32 PST 2020

In <http://bit.ly/2QVJlzv>, or
Malka Groden ("a domestic-adoption advocate in the American Jewish community")
writes and article titled:
    Why Orthodox Jews Have Been Hesitant to Adopt Outside Their Community,
    and Why They Shouldn't Be

I am posting to Avodah because I am including her summaries of points
made by RMMS (about the duty to raise nitzotzos, including those in
non-Jews) and by RYBS (from Family Redeemed about natural vs covenantal

And afterwood, the thoughts I had on the subject of adopting non-Jews,
developing since the days when we did.

   There is, however, one group of American Jews who are indeed marrying
   young, having children, and building families deeply connected to
   Jewish communal infrastructure through synagogues, schools, and a broad
   range of support organizations. That group comprises both the Charedim
   and the [M]odern Orthodox...

   In recent decades, indeed, the Orthodox world has become adept at
   devising arrangements in support of individuals and families going
   through life's most significant challenges: medical crises,
   infertility, domestic violence, drug addiction, poverty, and more. The
   organization In Shifra's Arms, for example, supports, emotionally,
   practically, and financially, Jewish women facing unplanned
   pregnancies; for another example, the Jewish Children's Adoption
   Network has placed thousands of Jewish babies with special needs in
   Jewish homes nationwide.

   But there's the rub: float within Orthodox precincts any suggestion of
   becoming involved with the issue of foster care and adoption in the
   larger society, and the initial response will likely be, "But those
   children aren't Jewish. Why is this a Jewish cause?"

   [The Lubavitcher] Rebbe taught that Jews are tasked with revealing not
   only their own "divine spark" but also the divine spark that resides
   within each human being, Jew and non-Jew alike. Thus, among Chabad's
   initiatives was a campaign to include, at the start of each day in
   the nation's public schools, a moment of silence during which all
   children would have an opportunity to contemplate their own purpose
   and responsibilities. Similarly, the Rebbe pushed for criminal-justice
   reform--stressing that those incarcerated must be given the chance
   for rehabilitation so that they too can return to their God-given
   mission in life--at a time when this issue did not command the broad
   consensus it enjoys today.

   Both of these projects, geared simultaneously toward Jews and the
   broader community, reflected the Rebbe's firmly activist view of the
   essential worth of each human being. With a proper moral foundation and
   education, he held, every individual, however highly or humbly
   situated, has the potential to grow and reveal his or her own divine
   spark. It is the mission of Jews to advance that project through
   whatever means they can: teaching Torah, helping to build a soup
   kitchen, giving charity, or adopting and parenting a non-Jewish child
   in desperate need of a stable, loving home.

   Meanwhile, Rabbi Soloveitchik, coming at the issue from his own
   direction, devoted an entire volume of essays, Family Redeemed, to the
   theme of family relationships. In one of these essays, he describes two
   forms of parenthood.

   The first form, "natural parenthood," is represented by Adam and Eve.
   The motherhood of Eve is instinctual and all-consuming; her entire
   being is involved, through the nine months of pregnancy and onward
   through the physical and biological demands of childbirth and child
   rearing. For Adam, by contrast, fathering a child makes no biological
   claims at all; after the child's birth, he is free to act exactly as he
   did before.

   With Abraham and Sarah, a new form--"covenantal" or "redeemed"
   parenthood--is revealed. For the first time, fatherhood demands
   something of men: Abraham must serve as an educator, molding his
   children and the next generation. In this mission, Sarah, the redeemed
   mother, joins him as partner and essential link in the transmission of
   the covenant. Separate from the biological demands made on her as a
   mother, motherhood takes on a larger ethical meaning to which she in
   turn makes a free commitment. At the start of the Jewish people's
   history, God confers on the first foremother and forefather the chance
   to move beyond the innate ties of biology and assume a
   trans-generational mission.

   By learning from the remarkable work done by American Christians, and
   by actualizing the core Jewish mission through the redemptive power of
   the Jewish family, American Jews can begin to help bring healing to a
   generation of children wounded and forgotten.

I am not a huge fan of focusing on the need for homes as a motive for
adoption. I am afraid of too many children being taken on as chessed
projects rather than letting a normal parent-child relationship develop.
But let me focus on Avodah material.

If someone wants to adopt in order to continue their mimetic line,
(along with the joys and the aggravations of parenting -- kind of like
gilu bir'adah) the halakhos are simpler and cleaner when adopting a
non-Jewish child.

The giyur will be al daas beis din, and the parents are apitrupusei beis
din. There is actually a halachically recognized tie between parents
and adopted child, and the chinukh you provide is a chiyuv. (Not the
chiyuv of "veshinantam levanekha", but still, a chiyuv.)

That said, I still think aniyei irekha qodmin -- as long as there are
Jewish children to be found, in today's climate of Open Adoption the
halachic issues are generally resolvable.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Worrying is like a rocking chair:
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   it gives you something to do for a while,
Author: Widen Your Tent      but in the end it gets you nowhere.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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