[Avodah] Adopting Outside the Community
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
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
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
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.
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.
More information about the Avodah