Adoption advice needed

My friend Shorty and her husband are looking to adopt a child. They have started exploring all of their options and researching and attending information sessions. Shorty sent me this email earlier today, asking for advice.

Hey H

so here’s the deal…we’re looking into adoption – likely from China. I’ve had two issues when it comes to adoption

The first, a non issue with the Chinese child adoption is the open adoption thing. Domestic adoptions are all open (or most of them, in Ontario, Canada). I just have a hard time wrapping my head around an open adoption, where the adopted child will be raised Jewish, and well, Frum (religious) Jewish. While as you know DH is amazing, his family is patient but well, not necessarily totally understanding. So imagine a whole OTHER extended non Jewish family in the picture…

The second issue is the whole “teach the child their culture” thing. While i have no problem telling my (G-d willing!) adopted child where they are from, I’m not exactly keen on telling them the whole story about Chinese culture, as much of it revolves around a religion. I figure there must be some kind of balance, teach them about the language, and some non religious culture things. It’s just the first I hear of this. I know a few other people who had adopted from China, and their children, happen to be Chinese, but they never made any extra effort to teach the kids Mandarin or take them to Chinese dance lessons. I’ve just been reading about Chinese culture lessons for these kids…which somehow has to fit in around friends, and sports and school and well, regular life things.

So…what do you think? do you know anyone in this kind of situation (religious and have adopted from another country or are in an open adoption)

The scary thing is, because of the homestudy, you really have to have all these answers laid out before hand…like they ask you things like “how do you plan on raising the child – specifically”. Umm…does anyone know in such a detailed way how they are going to raise their child? They might know, religion, or a no-spanking policy (i actually do know a couple who spank, unfortunately) but other than that…does anyone really know what they do day by day, before the child arrives (adoption or by birth)?

Ok lots of random questions, but i know people like to comment on your blog more than mine, and I really need some words of wisdom!!

Lots of hugs

Shorty

If anyone out there has any advice for Shorty and her husband, please share it.

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121 Comments

  1. CanCan says:

    Well… OK. I study religion. You can perfectly well teach a child Chinese culture without tripping up on the concept of “religion” as defined in Judaism. Confucianism is often called a ‘religion,’ but has no real deity, and is more of an ethnical/philosophical guide to life. You can “de-religionize” Taoism pretty easily. Instead of ancestor veneration, tell your child about how much Chinese people respect their parents and grandparents etc.

    And, honestly? If no one else does it, perhaps you should be less interested in how to fit it into your child’s life (good that you’re thinking ahead, especially because of the questions the application asks, but the sports/friends/life question seems to be more of a ‘cross that bridge when you come to it’ moment than anything, because who knows what your child will like or hate?), than how to approach this question in the adoption applications.

    Unless you’re opposed to it, a child can also make friends at Mandarin lessons… friends/Chinese culture do not need to be diametrically opposed. goodness knows all of my Chinese friends bonded over afterschool lessons (much like Jewish kids bond over after-school Hebrew lessons).

    Good luck!!!

  2. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    We adopted from Russia. Why? Because as frum yidden we feel it’s hard enough, forget about bringing in other cultures or going domestic and having a whole other “family” to contend with. It wasn’t racially motivated. I wanted to go to Guatemala but they were closed when we started. In the end, it is easier because our son sort of looks like us. We don’t often find ourselves explaining his adoption. Russia was very very very (did I say very?) difficult but so worth it.

    • shorty says:

      we were thinking of Russia originally, but it is very very very (very?) expensive, and apparently there have been a lot of problems with the adopted children in the last little bit. After some chat with my social worker and another friend (also a social worker) they strongly recommended to rethink that decision.

  3. RubyV says:

    I am very bothered by the idea of witholding cultural information. The reality is that the child is entitled to know about their heritage, and all that it entails. Children of Color have a different experience re judaism than other children, simply because of the attitudes towards people of color, conversion, etc. My daughter knows that my family is Christian, and she knows what that means – she also knows that mama and daddy’s families are from different places and speak different languages. It adds to the richness of her life. She is very firm in the Jewish identity.

    The person needs to really identify why she’s uncomfortable and get over it. If you are not ready to deal with the realities involved in trans cultural adoption, please seek counseling before moving forward.

  4. shorty says:

    I have not problem teaching the child about where he or she is from, its how much of that culture would be acceptable – do i have to tell them that their families practiced Buddhism?

    Ruby – i don’t have a problem with it, i am merely trying to see what i need to do to prepare. Our own family is of crazy mixed – my father from Egypt, my mother from Uruguay, my husband’s family is Italian. My parents never submerged me in Uruguaian or Egyptian culture (other than maybe some food at grandma’s). I never took Egyptian culture classes. Same with my husband’s family, there was no “this is the Italian way” in his household. They cooked what they did because that’s what they were taught, and my father in law even says now, I am a Canadian.

    I have no issue with my own identity – i am a Jewish woman. I would want my child to have an equal sense of strong identity – i am just wondering whether it’s required to say they are a Jewish Chinese or a Chinese Jew?

    In my head it’s more a matter of it shouldn’t matter – it shouldn’t matter where that child comes from – i know to everyone else, they might have some wierdness about it, but to be honest – tis their problem, not mine – my job is to ensure my child can confidently say “I am Jewish” despite the fact she or he doesn’t look like a Euro-Jew.

    In Shul there is one Chinese woman who covers here hair, and several Chinese children running around. They sing Adon Olam at the top of their lungs on the Bimah on Shabbos Morning. I love it. There is no questioning who they are.

    Keep ‘em coming!

    • CanCan says:

      I, for one, find your attitude commendable.

    • RubyV says:

      It shouldn’t matter, but it does. that’s the unfortunate reality. JOC, who don’t “look” Jewish often get crap in Day schools, etc. You may not have needed Egyptian school, etc because your family of origin is from the culture. I didn’t have to go to Puerto Rican/Dominican school because I was surrounded by the culture. My daughter does go to spanish language classes because we are in the minority in our community, especially in our Jewish community.

      Unfortunately, while our children, and many children of color can confidently say “I am Jewish”, the rest of the Jewish world often says “Yeah? prove it”.

      Also, you are adopting a child that will look significantly different from yourselves and others. It’s only fair to be able to explain why, and be able to educate them about their origins. They aren’t just jewish. Your child will be a jew with a rich heritage courtesy of her birth family that deserves honor. Explaining the many religious/philosophic traditions of the region won’t make a child less jewish or confused if the family is firm in their faith.

  5. Lili says:

    Hey, there were/are Jews in China! Well, a few. There’s even book by a man who adopted a daughter from Taiwan and raised her Orthodox – Bamboo Cradle by Avraham Schwartzbaum. However, the issue of racism can’t be discounted. She needs to give some serious thought to the fact that the child would not be able to “pass” and would need to learn to deal with that. As for culture, that doesn’t need to be about religion. It sounds like some of her information may be out of date.

    • shorty says:

      hey, thanks for the book recommendation!

      The info is vague – the adoption agencies talk about Chinese culture classes – and some families talking about celebrating the Chinese New Year…which does involve deities and such.

      • Ruth says:

        I have been reading the blog Resist Racism, which has a lot of posts about white parents raising Chinese kids and other children of color. The reason to send a child to culture classes is to ensure that she’s not the only person like her she sees. Please note the word “sees”–we send our children to Jewish schools and camps to make sure they know their culture, but also in large part to make sure they don’t feel like they are the only Jewish children in the world.

        I think it’s possible for Jewish children of color to forge successful Jewish identities without feeling like they’re constantly on the spot. I just think it’s important not to cut kids off from any aspect of themselves.

        It’s good to read what adoptees have to say in adulthood. Open adoption can be tough, but on the other hand, the child doesn’t have to search for the birth parents to learn the truth of their genetic heritage and full family history.

        This person is going to be your kid, so you want them to have everything they need to grow up to be a mensch–and sometimes a Jewish mensch needs to hang out with Chinese kids.

        • F. says:

          So the thing to check out would be if the school, the Jewish school, and the shul and general Jewish community will have other Jewish kids of Chinese descent.

      • Lili says:

        No problem! You might also want to look at the organization Bechol Lashon. My husband and I have looked at adopting from China seriously as well, but my husband is Chinese American, so we’re coming at it from a different perspective.

        What I meant about religion and culture is that I think Chinese American culture has preserved a lot more of the religious aspects than you find in Modern China right now (because of the Cultural Revolution).

  6. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    It’s true, adopting from Russia is ridiculously expensive. When we added it all up, it was just over 40K. It was my understanding to adopt from China is about the same cost. As for problem children, it depends. The younger they are at adoption the less exposure they’ve had to an orphanage which always helps. With china, you can get a baby. In Russia you have to wait until they are at least a year old.

    • shorty says:

      its about half the cost for China. We’ll be doing the Waiting Children program which have “correctable, medical issues” often only a scar or a birth mark.

  7. fille says:

    I do not think it is a good idea to adopt and to convert a child.

    If you adopt, throw religion over board…

    • shorty says:

      why do you say that?

    • shorty says:

      why do you say that?
      anway, ANY child adopted into say, a Christian home is converted – they are forced in X-mas and Easter, as secularly based as they might be, they aren’t secular holidays, and at some point in the adopted parents family’s past they were celebrated with more religious aspect.
      one could say that about any child – don’t raise a child with any religion.
      as far as an adopted child is concerned – mom and dad ARE mom and dad. it doesn’t matter what genetics says.

      • fille says:

        Well, christianism is a proselytist religion, so all the better for them.

        Many christians adopt christians (more choice!!!) so this problem does not even crop up.

        Furthermore: if you adopt someone into “mainstream culture” it is not the same as adopting someone into a small niche culture that is, to say the least, not very welcoming for people who come from a different background and look differently.

        • gemfit says:

          That is the most close-minded point of view I’ve heard!

          My brother was adopted from a Christian family – adopted at birth and converted – and he hasn’t suffered at all. He’s blond while we’re all dark but nobody ever questioned him. True, he’s not Asian or of colour, but still.

          If my parents had waited until a Jewish child had become available, they’d still be waiting.

  8. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Interesting advice, Fille, but not helpful if the parents are observant of a particular religion.

    • fille says:

      This piece of advice is CRUCIAL for people are observant of a particular religion.

      Because you cannot eat your cake and have it.

      If religion is so important, adopt a jewish child. If no jewish child is available, don’t adopt.

      If adopting is so important, accept a non-jewish child into your household without converting it. But how will the child feel.

      I think it is immoral to adopt a child and force a religion upon it.

      Furthermore, it goes contrary to halacha (it’s proselytism, and proselytism is not allowed according to halacha).

      So if halacha is so important: Don’t adopt and convert, it’s against halacha.

      • shorty says:

        Actually…reading some articles on the halacha, its actually FAVORABLE to adopt a non Jewish child and convert over a Jewish child

        and this is why: the lineage of a Jewish child can be in doubt…also, if the parents of the Jewish child weren’t properly divorced, then this child would be consider a Mamzer and not able to marry (or something like that).

        it is also considered noble to raise an orphaned child as one’s own.

        • fille says:

          Of course. Do you know about the “Find a rabbi”-Website?

          You enter the question and the answer you’d like to hear, and the website gives you the name, address and e-mail of the Rabbi who will provide you with the answer you want to hear…

        • fille says:

          PS: the lineage problem would be solved as soon as you know who is the mother…

      • Sadly fille , I come across your advice with heartbreak daily.

        Don’t really care… While in Romania I saw kids living in sewers. My son we adopted from Oregon, his brothers were taken away by the state because of his abusive Mother.

        Still I think providing these kids with a better life is worth it. AND a Mitzvah. DESPITE what some of the Rabbium say

        What does the Torah say about orphans?

        • Mark says:

          Gruven Reuven – Still I think providing these kids with a better life is worth it. AND a Mitzvah. DESPITE what some of the Rabbium say

          Is there ANY Rabbi that says saving a child from a dismal life is a bad thing (i.e. not a mitzvah)???? What kind of Rabbi would say such a thing?

          • There is a responsa by Rav Ram in his book “Shabbos with Rav Pam” compiled by Rabbi Sholom Smith (artscroll) that falls in line to what Fille is saying. Even heard a Shiur by Rabbi Frand that lists all Halacha problems with adoption. (Although to be fair he does give alternate views). By yeah the Rav Pam responsa is a beaut.

      • Z! says:

        Fille: If religion is so important, adopt a jewish child. If no jewish child is available, don’t adopt.

        It sounds to me like you just don’t want to see any MORE Jews in the world.

      • F. says:

        It isn’t forcing. The child at the age of majority gets to accept or reject the conversion.

  9. fille says:

    General information on adoption:

    Normally, children who stem from healthy, sound families are NOT up for adoption, whatever the country.

    So chances are that children you want to adopt have gone through some sort of drama early in life.

    Are you really equipped to cope with it?

    • shorty says:

      Yes, i am aware of that fille. I know what i would be “getting myself into”

      There are no guarantees in life – not even with one’s own children – especially in today’s society of Ipods and boredom and impatience. Anyone’s kid can have “issues”. I know plenty of mom’s with their hands full with children with ADHD or autism. Their own biological children.

      So yes, i am aware and my husband and i are ready to deal with what is necessary.

      You seem a bit negative on adoption, may i ask why?

      • fille says:

        I was in school with a girl adopted from India. She did not reach age 40. She could not cope with the situation.

        That’s just one example.

        If you are ready and equipped to cope with severe post-trauma, you might as well take a foster child from the US, you know, the ones no-one wants…

        • shorty says:

          and i was in school with a girl who was adopted domestically. She now has three kids and is completely happy.

          and our neighbour has a beautiful daughter from China. She is sweet and generous, talented and super smart.

          and other friends who have super great kids from Russia.

          and another friend with a young toddler from China who is also doing amazing.

          and another Rebbetzin who adopted five kids from all over – South America to Africa who are all well adjusted and now one of them is even gotten married in Israel.

          and another couple who adopted two siblings. One is doing very very well, and the other, not so much.

          So yes, while i know there are some difficult stories – as parents, birth or adoptive – we can ONLY do our best to raise our children.

    • RubyV says:

      Not true. Home situations for birth parents vary greatly. It doesn’t mean that the families are unstable or unhappy. Poverty, age, etc can all be factors in why a parent puts a child up for adoption. Not all children available for adoption need rescuing. some just need a forever family that their own cannot provide for many reasons.

  10. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    That may or may not be the case. In Russia, children are often given up because of extreme poverty, as was the case with my son, who was born early and needed medical care they could not afford. It all depends, and that goes for children born to you as well as the adopted ones.

    You do have to be ready to deal with what comes and we were well prepared.

  11. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    It’s a big tzchus to adopt a child, even more so for making him or her Jewish. I’ve been told this by several top rabbaim.

  12. First Mazel Tov!

    Second, don’t sweat the Home study.

    We adopted twice.. Once from Romania (Our son was one of the last kids to get out before they shut down international adoptions in 2000) and my other son in 2005 from Oregon.

    Our oldest is in touch with his Romanian roots via books and documentaries. Of course being frum we slant a lot of the research into Jewish life in Romania, and the Chassidic sects that were prominent pre-WWII. Unfortunately he was abandoned at birth and thus raised in an orphanage for his first two years of life. So we can’t tell him much, as we don’t know much of his real roots. He fly’s a Romanian flag in his bedroom, and will probably visit again one day when he gets older.

    I know this is off topic to the question you posed but…. To be honest, BY FAR, the hardest part of the adoption process for us has been the conversion. We adopted 10 years ago, been fully frum for 7years, We moved 2 years ago to a community at the suggestion of the Beis Din (almost went Bankrupt in the process) and our Beis Din is still playing games with us. My guess it they are just waiting for my son to become of Bar Mitzvah age next year. (Or at least that’s what I hope and Daven for). Dealing with the Romanian government was a Breeze compared to our Beis Din. Our son has a learning disability that is preventing him from going to a Jewish Day school. This is a BIG issue for our Beis Din. I do not want to scare you, but our conversion process has been a total Horror story. A living Hell. We are at the point now where my son is old enough to understand what is going on. A couple weeks ago he said to me. “Why should I even be Jewish if they don’t think I’m good enough to be Jewish”. This was after we got shut down yet again. The excuse this time was my wife’s Tznius (Her tichel left about an 1” of hair uncovered in the front) and my son can’t memorize Asher Yatzer in Hebrew. Right now we are working on my son’s English reading/writing skills. He gets IEP support in school, to which our Jewish Day school can’t match. They told us point blank, it would be detrimental for him to attend Jewish Day School as they can’t offer him support. Yet that still seems to be a sticking point with the Beis Din.

    What is truly sad is my son wears a Kippah and Tzitzit to school. They only one to do so in his grade. He doesn’t eat the school’s food. He only eats is kosher packed lunch. This is a tough thing to do for an 11 year old. Yet none of that is taken in consideration by the beis din, Only that he can’t memorize blessings like a parrot.

    The great news is tomorrow he is graduating elementary school! Our school district thinks next year he will not need Learning Support!!!

    I only wish your conversion process goes as smoothly as the adoption process will go.

    • fille says:

      Why does he have to be jewish?

      If he chooses not to be, you should be fine with it. Especially if the conversion has not been done yet?

      • Well Fille, because my Beis Din agrees with you. I think that is a moot point as it really doesn’t look like he will be converted.

        Thanks for conversation. I feel so wonderful now. You really made my day.

        -Signing off

        • CanCan says:

          Reuven,

          I’m a giyores-to-be who usually posts here under a different name, but chose not to on this post let it identify me.

          It sounds like you’re trying to convert under RCA auspices, because the official RCA program insists on parents committing to a full lifetime of jewish dayschool education for children before they will let them convert (please see http://www.rabbis.org/documents/Comprehensive%20and%20Final%20Geirus%20Policies%20and%20Standards%20Protocol.pdf ; I would have linked it but I don’t know if the comment field allows HTML).

          HOWEVER, because your situation is different because your son loves Judaism but has a learning disability that precludes easy bracha memorization and Jewish dayschool, I would strongly suggest you try to e-mail or phone the central RCA offices, if you haven’t already. The conversion standards themselves say that converting a child is a zechus, and in recent years, a lot of the learning disabilities or other impediments (deafness etc.) that would have precluded orthodox conversion 50 years ago are being seen in a more compassionate light.

          I just would like to warn you: tread lightly, lest your Rabbis be territorial. But if they fail to abide by RCA standards, they geirus…es? could be rejected, which could explain their unusual stubbornness.

          If all else fails, I could try to work my ‘convert activism network’ for you, to see if anyone succeeded in getting a child with a learning disability that precluded dayschool converted via RCA… please reply to this message if you would like me to do that.

          Information is at http://www.judaismconversion.org/ and contact info is http://www.judaismconversion.org/contact.html

        • Mark says:

          I am very surprised that a bet din would cause a good family such agmat nefesh for no good reason. Halacha states that even an infant can be converted if s/he accepts the conversion later at age 12/13. It’s just not right what they are doing in this case.

          • According to the Rav, there is good reason. My son doesn’t go to a Jewish day school and my wife has issues with Tznius. (or at least that’s the current reason)

            Been actively at this for 6 years now. They tell me to sell my house and move, I sold my house and moved.

            Feel like it’s the proverbial changing of the goal posts.

            I guess that’s what I get for having a Rav whose conversions are well respected in Israel.

            Again, I’m hoping that the Rav is just delaying until my son is 13 and can accept the conversion. (At least that’s what I daven for)

          • batya from NJ says:

            am i missing something gruven_reeven but how does selling your house & moving solve anything?!!! i’m a bit confused but since you’ve taken the rabbi’s advice & moved are you at least happier in your new community? one can only hope…

          • Was told I needed to live in a thriving larger Jewish community. Bought right before the crash of ’08. Carried 2 mortgages for a year. Sold WAY low. Was about 3 months away from declaring bankruptcy. Was probably the hardest year of my life.

            Oh yeah… I LOVE LOVE LOVE the community I’m in. Hard as it was, would do it again in a heartbeat

          • RubyV says:

            Gruven Reuven, I know how frustrating it is. My daughter at one point had 6 food allergies, making keeping kosher in our home near impossible. Try participating in the Jewish community when you have series food allergies. Conversions don’t happen in this situation.

            When your child can’t go to day school because it’s a dairy facility, and touching dairy can kill your kid, it makes conversion really difficult. Especially when the school can’t grasp that you r child went to a jewish preschool that was also dairy, but that precautions were taken, and she took vegan meals to avaid dairy and egg. The day school kept thinking that non dairy and no eggs meant meat. Public school can provide a one on one nurse for her, ensuring that school doesn’t kill her. The Jewish world often isn’t kind to children who don’t do day school.

            Our daughter converted through one of the more liberal branches of Judaism for this reason. It’s sad that her challenges would keep her from conversion. (her conversion was because I was not a jew at her birth). thank g-d for compassionate reconstructionist and conservative Rabbis.

      • Ashleyroz says:

        I’m sorry, but that is the most heartless and ignorant thing I’ve read all week.

        I think 50% of this guys facebook updates are him kvelling about how enthusiastic his son is about Judaism. If his updates are even 10% accurate it sounds like those boys have neshamas to rival most and just had the unfortunate circumstance to being born in less than ideal circumstances.

        I can’t imagine the heartache you and your wife are going through, Reuven and I think it’s absolutely wonderful you’re making it such a priority to provide love of Torah to your sons.

    • F. says:

      Unfortunately, there are many stories of such crazy demands and stringing along with the conversions never happening. If you can, switch to a different beit din. The sponsoring rabbi doesn’t have to be local. The actual conversion doesn’t even have to be done locally. Conversion of a minor should be relatively simple.

  13. tila says:

    There was a documentary on cbc about families that adopted asian children, and how they raised them in the culture they were adopted in. Yet, they were exposed to their culture through a specially formed group for other families who apoted the same way.
    As for problem children. That is not proper thinking. You may be born with physical and sometimes mental issues, but doe not mean if you are going to be a “bad” or “good” child. Friends adopted from Russia, and he is an amzing young man. His parents are great parents, and wonderful role models. Thats what makes a child.
    I was an illegal adoption. I have my issues, but I do not blame my biological parents, or my adoptive parents.
    Do what is right for you, there are support groups, and lots of great programs to help you find your baby.
    Good luck

    • shorty says:

      Our social worker adopted 25 years ago, no homestudy no anything. They were simply asked if they wanted this specifc child and well, that was it.

  14. Sadly fille , I come I am living your advice with heartbreak daily. Don’t really care… While in Romania I saw kids living in sewers. My son we adopted from oregon, his brothers were taken away by the state because of his abusive Mother.

    Still I think providing this kids with a better life is worth it. AND a Mitzvah. DESPITE what some of the Rabbium say

    • fille says:

      I agree if you stumble on the child or the child stumbles on you.

      But today, there are more couple willing to adopt than children available for adoption.

      So why do you have to convert a child to adopt it?

      (I say so purely from the perspective of the child and the biological parents. I am not at all against welcoming them if they want).

      (Someone I know adopted from Russia. The boy came to a new environment (he was about 2 years old) and one of the first things he had was the Milah… Is this not traumatising??? I ask you!!!)

      • Yeah, I get that ALL the time. Why convert? Why not just raise them as righteous gentiles. How sad.. How do you raise a child without religion. How do you and your family Experience the joys of Judaism an NOT include your kids. After all it’s not kosher for non-Jews to do mitzvot like observe Shabbat. What do I do in December? Bring a X-mas tree in my house? Think Not. No! I do not buy into that advice

      • My son was 2 when we brought him home from Romania. YES one of the first things we did was Milah. With a Mohel and doctors in a hospital operating room!! traumatic? I was more traumatised then him. It was a non-issue. PLEASE

        • shorty says:

          GR – i am so sorry to hear what is going on and your beautiful son – i would like to daven for you, can you please send me your full Hebrew names
          you can DM me in twitter, @shortjewish

        • fille says:

          Can’t understand this: he had milah without even becoming jewish?

          What were you thinking?

      • shorty says:

        a friend was in his 30′s when he converted and my uncle was 40 when he converted.

        They were both fine, and haven’t needed any additional psychotherapy over it.

      • CanCan says:

        Oh, so a child is supposed to be with a family who loves him, but told he can’t say brachas like the rest of the family because he isn’t Jewish? Light candles? Dress like his dad, his number one role model?

        Reuven, Gd bless you for all you do.

    • tikunolam says:

      Rueven, looking forward to hearing your son be proclaimed “officially” Jewish. I am sure in the hearts of your whole family believe him to be a part of our broader “family” already.

  15. jean says:

    Re religion in China, not many Chinese practice Buddhism, which was outlawed with other religions for several generations so the child proabbaly did not have Buddhist roots. As for Taoist “deities” they are generally not part of an absolute belief system, but more sages, emperors and symbols of good luck and prosperity, and are part of folk culture. But I know if you are frum these distinctions are irrelevant in terms of avodah zarah.

    However, Chinese culture is so rich I think you can choose what you deem important and put what you object to in context. Good luck on your beautiful and wonderful journey!

    • shorty says:

      I think you’re right Jean, and from other comments, i think there is definitely a way to give a nice “taste” of China, without worrying about the religious aspect.

  16. jean says:

    Bless you , Gruven_Reuven for your mitzvot!

    • HSaboMilner says:

      hear hear!!!

      • Thanks… If this ever does happen, I’m going to throw the biggest Kiddish/farbrengen our shul has ever seen. You all are invited ya hear.

        • Mekubal says:

          Reuven, it’s been a long time! My heart breaks for what you must be going through.
          I’ve learned more than half way through the rabbanut Dayanut program and I can say there may be some other halachic options open to you. However, it’s not really appropriate to discuss on a blog. So drop me a line and I’ll see if we can’t help you move this along.
          All my best to your wife and kids. I can’t believe how big the kids are now.

  17. Mark says:

    I know next to nothing about adoption, other than having great admiration for those parents who do it, but I have a few questions.

    * Are there no children in the USA that are unwanted and available to be adopted? Aren’t there even Jewish children that are alone in the USA and available to be adopted?

    * Is is generally less expensive to adopt in the USA?

    * Why is it so expensive in the first place? After all, trying to help a child in such a situation IMPROVES the world and should be made easier!

    • shorty says:

      to answer your questions – from the Canadian point of view

      yes there are
      children in Ontario. Jewish children, likely not. the domestic process has a lot to do with marketing yourself, cute pictures and booklets about what great parents you are going to be. In Ontario now, almost all adoptions including those from the children’s aid are open adoptions. I just don’t know how that will work with a Jewish family. Assuming we get picked at all, my husband is almost 50, and I am a practicing Jew. While we can hide it at the beginning, it will come out with formal agreements for visitation, and with 21 days to change her mind, i can see the birth mother getting some serious doubts…

      not always less expensive, at least not here anyway – compared with China, compared with other countries, yes definitely less $

      expenses include a lot of admin costs – like out the 25K for expenses for China, i think less than 10 goes to the agency, the rest is translators and other admin-y kind of stuff. the homestudy also costs about 2K as does the mandatory adoption course here in Ontario.

      • Leah says:

        I know it doesn’t quite help, but friends of mine in Chicago put in for a US open adoption. He’s Jewish and they are committed to having a Jewish family.

        After about a year on the list, they got a call on a Tuesday afternoon that a woman had given up a baby and requested a Jewish family. On Friday, their son was home with them.

        It can happen, but I know it is rare.

        There was a lovely article in the NYTimes in the last couple years about the bat mitzvahs of girls adopted from China – in NY there is a huge community of Jewish/Chinese families.

        Also – check out http://www.jewsinallhues.org/ which is a new organization for Jews of mixed heritage.

        Also, also… I used to manage an ice cream parlor and one of my regulars was a doctor who specialized in the health of children adopted from abroad (he and his wife had adopted 3 daughters from China). He prescribed the parents and children ice cream to help the gain weight and as treats for shots.

        I can’t tell you how good it felt to be a small part of these kids coming to their forever families. I just served them ice cream, but those parents were over the moon. Someday, baruch hashem, you’ll be one, too.

        And you’ll find a community of supporters to help you have the family you dream of.

  18. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    There are children in the US who need to be adopted but it often requires dealing with the foster system or doing private, which can be as $ as foreign adoption. It is generally less expensive. Why is it so costly to save a child? Because the peope in these countries who facilitate the process need to get paid, plain and simple.

    Healthy, Jewish infants don’t come up very often
    and for reasons mentioned in this thread, it’s better to adopt a non-Jewish child.

    I don’t know who these rabbis are saying adoption is wrong. All the ones I’ve spoken to it, among them BIG names in the yeshiva world, endorse it whole heartily.

    • I was starting to reply to Mark, but BeenThereDoneThat said it best. That’s was my experience as well. Our Domestic adoption ran much more then our International adoption. And yes, Jewish children to adopt are VERY hard to come by.

      Not saying all Rabbis think it’s wrong, I do get told it’ a mitzvah from time to time. Unfortunately I do but into the opinion that Fille expressed VERY often. Can be very heart breaking

      • shorty says:

        i got to a modern orthodox shul. LOTS of adopted kids around. I know one Rebbetzin who adopted five from around the world (hair covering kind of Rbtzn). I am going to take a wild stab and thnk that i think at least around here Baruch Hashem, it is seen a bit more positively. (mind you, i do not know what everyone’s state of conversion is…)

  19. shualah elisheva says:

    i have to pop into this comment thread just to say kol hakavod and b’hatzlacha to ANYONE who is willing to give a good home to a child.

    irrespective of the religion of that home.

    irrespective of the situation from which that child comes.

    you are doing a mitzvah, and a hugely meaningful one [not to rank mitzvot, but while i enjoy the hamotzi, adoption seems to me to bring so much extra light into the world - and a dark world, at that].

    by fille’s logic, we are all forced into a religion. her opinion, drawn to its conclusions, is that no one should be raised in any religion. while she is certainly entitled to that opinion, and may have very solid reasons for feeling so, it is also true that religion and faith can bring so much joy and family beauty into life.

    so. again.

    kol hakavod [especially to you, reuven].

  20. Tovah says:

    I have to reply re: converting children under bar/bat mitzvah age. My daughter is absolutely DYING to be converted and she’s 5. She attends day camp at the JCC, and is going to Hebrew day school in the fall; she even reminds me to say hamotzi. Without telling her that she has to be Jewish, or that she has to eat a certain way or do certain things, she’s seen me be observant, and does the same. The only reason we haven’t converted her yet is because of custody issues with her biological father. As soon as the sole custody order is in place, she’s going to be converted. I already have approval from my rabbi. She would be completely crest fallen if I didn’t let her convert. If you ask her she says hands down that she’s already Jewish. I can’t imagine that I would be doing her any favors by making her wait until she’s 12 to let her decide if she feels like being Jewish by then.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      that’s a very special little girl you have there!!

      • Tovah says:

        Well I can’t imagine that anybody raising children in an observant household would even be able to raise children that wouldn’t want to also be observant. R chooses to read Torah as her bedtime story. She chooses to eat kosher outside the house. When we got her acceptance letter to Hebrew school, she cried because she couldn’t go the next day.

        When you’re an observant Jew with all the heart and feeling that comes along with that, you can’t help but instill the same in your children. Just like Gruven_Reuven … even without the official documentation, in his children’s hearts, they are Jewish.

  21. tikunolam says:

    Didn’t get to read all the comments so forgive me if me if I repeat something already said.

    Yes, done the homestudy and Pride training. As a child psychologist I think it is *imperitive* to not only expose kids to their culture but for you to be a *part* of their culture yourself. I can’t stress enough how much I believe honesty is the only way to raise a healthy child.

    As far as not enough kids up for adoption. . .huh? I got two calls in the last month and a half for toddlers in need of families. Depends on what you consider kids available for adoption.

    • RubyV says:

      Yup. Know plenty of people who have adopted infants here in the states, through a combo of fostering and agencies. One of my closest friends adopted her little boy at birth, with help from JFS, though the state.

      • RubyV says:

        And none of those adoptions were by anyone wealthy. Hell, most of my adopted family members were not by private agencies, and they were babies.

        • tikunolam says:

          There you go. I think what some ppl don’t want to say out loud is that there are few *nonBlack* children available. Personally I adored the three black foster children we had and look forward to what will hopefully be many more to come. I can only dream that one day that a child who could thrive in our family who will have begun with us in foster care will become available for adoption.

          • shorty says:

            For us, nothing to do with colour of the skin…in ON, there are MOSTLY caucasian children. I am more concerned of how an open adoption will impact the child when there is Jewish adopted parents and non jewish birth family. I see the complication in my own in-laws, and to be honest, if we lived closer, they may be more vocal about it who knows. I don’t see birth parents being quiet about things if they disagree (assuming they pick us at all with the Jewish thing).

          • RubyV says:

            There are differing degrees of open, from visits and regular chats to as little as contact once a year to send the birth family photos and a progress report. I’m trying to get a friend of mine who did a transracial adoption to post here. She didn’t find being a Jew to be a hurdle. However, the racism of the Jewish community have been far more problematic.

            TO, I am always amazed at the claim that there aren’t children available for adoption.

          • shorty says:

            here they insist on AT LEAST 4-5 visits per year and all the phone calls and emails that either sides wants. its fairly open.

          • RubyV says:

            http://www.canadaadopts.com/canada/open.shtml

            It doesn’t say that it’s mandatory. It’s an option with flexibility. What it does do is allow the birth mother more involvement in her child’s placement. That’s not a bad thing.

            If your goal is to never deal with a birth mother, then you are probably better served by international adoption. YMMV.

          • shorty says:

            Its pretty much mandatory in ONTARIO. I have spoken to the social worker conducting the homestudy (these are people who the Government licenses to do this) and this is what she told me.

            Yes, there is flexibility, but when marketing oneself, we are told we need to add in “promises” to potential birth mothers, including – visitation, “we promise 4 visits per year” kind of thing.

            If we can’t handle the open thing, the social worker will pretty much tell us to go international or tell us not to adopt. Like i said, i don’t mind it, but there will be sooo many restrictions, that i don’t see how a birth family will be ok with. and even if we keep it on the “down low” during the marketing and selection phase, which you can down play a bit, when the formal agreement is made up for visitation, this will all come out. then the birth mother has 21 days to change her mind. Imagine getting to that point and the birth mother saying “you know, i don’t want my child being forced to be Jewish” and having her take the child back?? i would be heart broken.

          • F. says:

            Please simply be honest. If you go the domestic, open route, and you are honest with the women considering adoption for their children, you’ll find the child meant to be with you.

          • tikunolam says:

            I could relate to the open/versus closed adoption thing. You really have to go with your gut on that one. If I were to foster to adopt and the child had bio family members that could continue to be a healthy part of their lives, I would keep it open.

            Hoever, from birth, not sure I would want to do it that way. As I am sure you know, kids get curious to one extent of another about where they came from. That can be embraced. It is a shift in what it is to raise a child. Not a worse way.

  22. ERICA says:

    My belief is that a child’s ethnicity and spiritual predilections are (at least in part) “embedded in their DNA”.
    Meaning that if you adopt an infant from China, immerse them in Judaism, and limit/neutralize their exposure to their Chinese heritage ..you may STILL find that when s/he reaches young adulthood, they gravitate to the religion/culture of their country of birth…to understand and explore their background, which will always be part of them.

  23. Shoshana says:

    If a child is converted under the age of bar/bat mitzvah he or she has the chance to affirm or refuse the conversion when reaching bar/ bat mitzvah age, is what I understand to be the halacha.

    Can you imagine the bar mitzvah speech:
    Dear rabbis, friends and family, today I have decide to become a goy…?

  24. batya from NJ says:

    WOW, so many responses!
    i will add that i have the utmost respect for anyone who chooses to adopt a child in order to give a non-biological child the chance to have a better life. What a mitzvah that is!!
    Also, if one is raising their family as torah observant, OF COURSE they would want their adoptive child to convert just as they would want their biological child to live a Jewish life so what’s the difference? the DNA? i don’t get it…
    of course, it will generally be easier to adopt a child who is Caucasian but it is not always so easy to find American Caucasian children & there are many Caucasian children who will have many issues b/c they are born to teenage moms, drug users, or whatever but as someone said above, there are no guarantees that one’s biological children won’t have any issues in today’s day & age with so many kids diagnosed with all kinds of issues (PDD, autism, LD, CP, ADD, ADHD etc)…
    i wish hatzlacha to anyone who wishes to adopt & provide a disadvantaged child with a better life & i hope that Gruven_Ruven’s son will be “allowed” to be converted & i am so sorry for your pain :(!
    oh yeah & hatzlacha to shorty with the adoption process :)!

  25. ERICA says:

    Kids are not computers that can be programmed.
    Parents can do their best to provide a rich Jewish upbringing and community for their children, but as kids grow-up, other forces may come into play that influence their actions and choices..like their ancestral and genetic heritage (that’s what I meant by “DNA”).
    My own children (and those of my friends) are all young adults now. We were all part of a vibrant day school community. Nevertheless, I’ve seen examples of what I’m describing.

    • shorty says:

      that can happen with any child. THe adopted kid in our school married Jewish…a bunch of us didn’t.

      some are religious, and some arent

      i don’t think DNA is the only thing that will throw kids off the derech…

  26. Rebecca says:

    gruven reuven -I certainly can understand your wanting your childl to be Jewish and not separated by others. But, isn’t being Jewish, done in your heart, by reading Torah, by doing Jewish mitzvot. Can he not be Jewish simply by you and your wife teaching him to the best he can learn? One thing that I wonder about. Do you have to grease the hands of the people making the decision? Why is it so important for him to be “officially Jewish” especially since he is a special neeeds child. Your love and teaching him all the rights and wrongs seems to me to go much further than following the rules of others. As far as an inch of your wife’s hair showing, what would happen if she had arthritus (sp) and this was the very best she could do. She is doing something. Seems to me these rulers have no room for life.

    • Mark says:

      Rebecca – But, isn’t being Jewish, done in your heart, by reading Torah, by doing Jewish mitzvot. Can he not be Jewish simply by you and your wife teaching him to the best he can learn?

      Good question. Yes, of course! However, when you need other Jews to do things for you (like marriage, etc), you need to be recognized as being a Jew to the rest of the Jewish nation.

      Seems to me these rulers have no room for life.

      But they do, there is even a concept of “vechay bahem”, or “live within the law” with the emphasis on “live”.

  27. Ita says:

    Maybe you should read the book. “Bamboo Cradle” by Avraham Schwartzbaum. It’s about a jewish family that adopts a chinese baby. It’s published by Feldheim.

  28. RubyV says:

    I’m not sure why people are so surprised by the conversion horror story. Horror stories like this are common among most of the converts I know. It’s unfortunate, but true. It’s not fair but it’s how the current system is.

  29. HaSafran says:

    As an adoptee and convert myself, as someone who had numerous friends growing up in an Orthodox environment who were also adoptees/converts, and as someone who has done research, with my wife, into adopting a child/ren into our family, I cannot fathom some of the comments made by “Fille” here.

    I have no idea where Fille got her/his information from, or what agenda she/he is trying to push here, but it is plain wrong and despicable.

    There are many, many children – both in N America and abroad – that are in desperate need of a loving, caring, understanding home. That is the most important thing. The best way to provide that is by COMPLETELY integrating the child into the family, as a whole, integral part of the family. If that family happens to be Orthodox Jews, then, of course, they will want to make that child part of that environment.

    Guess what, Fille? I AM allowed to have my cake and eat it too. It’s an “everyone wins” scenario – the parents who want a child but cannot have one of their own, get one. The child who needs a family, gets one. Why do you seem to be the only one upset about that?

    • Thanks you!!! And Yasher Koach!!
      Now I’m really bumming we didn’t meet at Chaviva & Tuviah’s wedding.

      Unfortunately, I’ve run into a lot of folks like Fille. Even at a Rabinical level

      I am not being deterred by them!!!!

      Doing everything I can possibly can to gets my boys an orthodox conversion

  30. Mirah Riben says:

    First I wish you mazel and commend you for wanting to do your homework before diving into adoption. What you are contemplating is not just adoption, but interracial adoption. You need to be able to be prepared to become an interracial family.

    Children are not blank slates. Your child will not need to be “told” that she Chinese. She or he can simply look in the mirror.

    You should be far more concerned about how your child will deal with racism than what you re concerned about.

    I urge you to read Language of Blood and Fugitive Visions by Jane jeong Trenka to put yourself in the shoes of an Asian adopted into America and understand what it is like for THEM. Adoption is done FOR THE CHILD and for their best interest, NOT YOURS!

    If you or your family have any difficulty accepting who you are adopting and the culture that person was born into, I strongly suggest you look for a different path. It is unfair to bring a child into a world with prejudice against his own culture. He or she will experience enough taunting simply for looking different…from schoolmates, etc. He should not feel it from his won mother and father or grandparents who are supposed love him fully and unconditionally.

    You might also try to access a copy of the following documentaries, available on DVD:

    Adopted by Barbara Lee; Resilience; Living on the Fault Line. All three are reviewed on my blog here:
    http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?security_token=AOuZoY5rQIRaKbSoVree-UsJmLro_Xndww%3A1276873407258&blogID=2384966947084602158&label=&searchType=ALL&txtKeywords=three&numPosts=25

    I also urge you to read: “The dark side of Chinese adoptions” at http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/05/05/pm-dark-side-chinese-adoptions/

    and “China’s adoption system worries Canadian mom” at http://www2.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=2034058

    Mirah Riben, author, “The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry”

    • shorty says:

      Mirah, if you read above, i have noo problems with the colour of my child’s skin or where they are from. Quite the opposite, i am of the “it shouldn’t matter” – but you are right, there is racism. I don’t know what the US is like, but where we live, there are plenty of Asian born people. Where we are, there is a high level of diversity, that the racism doesn’t exist…that being said, specifically in the Jewish community, that can be a bit different – that being said, there are a lot of chinese adopted children around too. So things are changing.

      i do want to teach any adopted child where they are from, why would i want to keep it a secret? but the fact is, i will be raising them as a Jewish child. So i need to be able to do this in a way that doesn’t cross boundaries so to speak – i had a lovely email with a person who talked about teaching their child about the overall culture of the country, the food, the dress, the music…what a wonderful way to teach a child where they are from!

      Also, it isn’t that i am put off by any of it, just surprised, because i hadn’t heard of it or seen of it before, and i know people who have adopted from other countries. while they know where they are from, there hasn’t been an over emphasis on specific education on their background cultures. not in avoidance, but it wasn’t seen as necessary.

      So i am asking about it, because until we entered the process, we hadn’t heard about it. it isn’t that we mind it, we’re just asking.

      i’m sorry, i am getting a bit defensive of people telling me we have an issue racially, when we dont

  31. Mirah Riben says:

    “There are children in the US who need to be adopted but it often requires dealing with the foster system or doing private, which can be as $ as foreign adoption. It is generally less expensive. Why is it so costly to save a child? Because the peope in these countries who facilitate the process need to get paid, plain and simple.”

    This is untrue. There are 129,000 foster children in the U.S. who could be adopted and the fees are very minimal – just filing fees.

    The fees are $40k and higher fr private and international adoptions, and one never knows who is getting paid off and the true origins of the child. DEMAND for these children – while ignoring the children in foster care and orphanages who need homes – makes the prices high and also feeds the child trafficking industry. Children are stolen and kidnapped all over the world – including China – to meet the demand of those in the U.S., Canada and western Europe willing to pay.

    90% of the children in orphanages worldwide have family who visit and hope to reunite and are not available for adoption. The rest are older, disabled and passe dover as baby brokers coerce and exploit mothers out of their younger, healthier children or traffickers steal them.

    Many parents have wound up unwittingly adopting children who were stolen or kidnapped to meet the demand for adoption.

    See video news report:

    Read: “Duped by Indian adoption agency, US family cautions couples”
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Duped-by-Indian-adoption-agency-US-family-cautions-couples/articleshow/5964751.cms

    Read also: The Lie We Love by E.J.Graff
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2008/10/…/the_lie_we_love -

    This is the reality you need to confront when approaching international adoption.

    Mirah Riben

  32. Mirah Riben says:

    Bottom line is this:

    “Healthy, Jewish infants don’t come up very often
    and for reasons mentioned in this thread, it’s better to adopt a non-Jewish child.”

    Better for those adopting perhaps, but it is “better” for the child? Adoption should be about helping children in need. How does taking away his culture and replacing it help him?

    Read what those who had it done to them feel…PLEASE! They may not be as appreciative as you’d like. They may have resentment.

    As someone said, you are not just converting them tot he family’s religion which is done to very child…but to a small inner sect.

    I was born and raised a Jew in Brooklyn NY and I have no idea what much of the stuff stalked about here is! This is not mainstream by any means.

    Judaism is more than a religion. Any child raised Jewish learns of lineage – an important aspect of Judaism. They will know that no matter “conversion: they go through they are not of Jewish lineage or heritage or birth. They will always feel – and be treated – differently.

    A Jewish friend’s interracially adopted daughter was teased horribly and traumatically at camp. And the older they get the more difficult – dating and marriage can be a total nightmare for these children.

  33. shorty says:

    Nightmares can happen with any child, whether by birth or by adoption. No one here can tell me it is any easier for a naturally born Jewish child to stay on the derech…the child has to choose to, just as an adopted child would.

    Domestic adoptions aren’t all light and roses either. Here, its all about marketing. You have to create a cute little profile that the birth parents would look at. It isn’t about how loving we will be, its about whether we have a red front door, a dog, red hair or some other random thing that the birth parents might pick out of a hat.

    People wait years and years, because of that.

    So even though we may be “worthy” according to the Ontario government after a homestudy and courses, it all means nothing if a birth mother doesn’t pick us out of the hat.

    THAT is why people go internationally. Because to hear you were one of ten families picked out of the hat, only to be turned down because one person had a red door and yours was green, and once the birth mother hit her head on a green door…well, you know what, not being able to conceive is heart breaking enough.

  34. shorty says:

    Mirah, having read your blog, clearly you have a strong bias against any religion. You have no idea about our religion, and while a few difficult situations do unfortunately exist, a child raised in the Jewish religion is raised with concepts of Tikkun Olam – fixing the world – through charity and volunteering, and chesed – loving kindess.

  35. Mirah Riben says:

    I would be very appreciative of links to Rabbinical opinions on this.

    One issue I am aware of is the commandment for a child to say Kaddish for his deceased parents – birth and adoptive – and an adoptee not knowing if his parents are dead or alive…or when they die.

    See Rebbetzin Twerski’s opinion on this at: http://www.aish.com/f/rf/83869922.html

    Thank you.

    • shorty says:

      the article you mention doesn’t talk about Kaddish. the article also leaves out many details about the relationshin between the birth mother and the adopted mother…

      there is a general rule that one stands for an “elder” whether they are Jewish or not. meaning, one gives respect to anyone older than you .

      honouring parents, and honouring other elders may have different requirements (for example, one is required to help parents with getting dressed or fed if they aren’t able to do so themselves)…but there is also a rule of love thy neighbour – ie if another human is in trouble, you help them. (again, whether it is by charity, or volunteering or another way…)

      So while an adopted parent is genetically not the mother or father, the adopted parents raised, cared for and taught the child (or provided an education) and as long as both see each other as child/parents then the laws are followed as if they were birth parents.

      Now if there is a relationship with the birth parents, then an adopted child would likely have twice as much Honouring their Parents to give around.

  36. shorty says:

    From the Chabad page

    The Adopted Son

    It is entirely proper, though not religiously mandatory, for a son to say Kaddish for a foster parent, especially if he has been raised by that parent for many years. An adopted son, naturally, should not be compelled to do so if there was no filial sentiment between them. There is a stronger plea for the adopted son to say Kaddish, however, if there are no natural sons who survive the parent.

  37. shorty says:

    Also, there is a requirement to mourn the teacher who taught you Torah (or helped for this to happen), so that likely being the case for the adopted child, and therefore he can and should say Kaddish for his adopted parents.

  38. It will cost you a couple of bucks, but download this Shiur from Rabbi Frand at

    http://www.torahmedia.com/flexcart/search.php?evid=5yud447u1n

    The title of the shiur is: Bereshis – Adoption Problems and solutions

    Rabbi Frand sites the sources and presents refutations and possible work arounds

  39. pinkdevora says:

    As an Ortho mom-in-waiting myself, waiting to adopt from China, I have plenty to say, but it’s a bit much for a comment.

    Perhaps Shorty can contact me, I’d love some more Jewish adoptive parent friends.

  40. pinkdevora says:

    BTW, Devora Schwartzbaum-Goldstein is very well-adjusted and pretty ebcouraging about adoption. I’ve spoken with her personally.
    And I do want to say, in short, that we’re planning to *teach* our child about the culture, but not observe it. They need to be aware of where they came from for their identity. Whether they choose to jeep a connection with it when they’re older is up to them.
    There’s nothing wrong (and it’s probably beneficial in today’s world) to learn Mandarin. Cooking Chinese-style kosher food is not that hard, and I doubt watching the CNY parade is a problem. You’re not forced to put a “kitchen god” up in your kitchen to celebrate Chinese culture.

    I suggest reading “Chicken Soup and Chopsticks” as well. I’m hoping to meet the wife of the author one day to see how she combines a Torah life with Chinese culture.

  41. kisarita says:

    To beentheredonethat;

    I can not believe how you can go on on what a mitzva it is to adopt a child. True, as someone here said, it’s a mitzva to adopt a child and save them from a dismal situation. But your child, you say, was given to you because her parents couldn’t afford her medical care. Not because they were unfit in any way!

    Do you think goyishe parents love their children any less than you???
    Now maybe in Russia this doesn’t apply, but it happens to be that in most countries you could have got the medical care for her at a fraction of the cost of the forty grand it cost you to adopt, and prevented a family from being torn apart. I don’t see that your act was one of great chessed.

    The same for the guy who almost went bankrupt trying to adopt.

    Go Mirah Riben.

  42. kisarita says:

    To Shorty:

    Your child will decide on its own how much it wishes to relate to Chinese culture and to what aspects. You have to be careful not to fetishize the chinese either- plenty are very modern. (And how do you know that his birth family was buddhist anyway?) Books about china are quite enough.

    But one thing that I would say is most important is language, because language is learned best when one is young. At least if the child is motivated. (Your going to have to follow his lead on this- don’t make him follow yours…) It would be good to have your kid learn language, so that one day, if the opportunity comes up, he will be able to communicate with his birth family.

    (If the idea threatens you than don’t adopt)

    Regarding religion: Are you willing and able to love and care for your kid just as much if they choose that they do not want to be Jewish???? If no, don’t adopt.

    They may love Judaism, or they may not. Only time will tell. But the choice must be theirs. This is true for all parents by the way. For me and my frum friends, one of the traumas of our frum upbringing was to know that we were not loved unconditionally.

    But it is especially important to an adopted child who has his own, different, lost heritage, that may or may not be meaningful to him- or it may require a long period of identity exploration between many options- onlyh he can be the judge of that.

    If you can not accept such an outcome, then don’t adopt.

    (btw if you actually know his birth family’s religion it would be criminal for you to hide it from him, or to disparage it in any way although ou don’t have to actively teach it to him.)

  43. kisarita says:

    Also, you owe it to your adopted child- and her parents- not to bring her up in a society where she will be a pariah. You are committing to giving her a better life, right? Not a worse one.

    A liberal or mixed Jewish community would probably be a better bet than a strictly orthodox one.

    Halachically speaking I’m sure this hasn’t come up among the poskim yet, because converts who later reject Judaism probably don’t ask their Rabbis if they’re allowed to… but a child who accpets mitzvos at the tender age of bar mitzva while still totally dependend on is adopted parents, in my opinion, cannot be considered to have chosen freely and there probably is a good tzad to invalidate his conversion if he so wishes.

  44. kisarita says:

    Shoshana wrote:
    “Can you imagine the bar mitzvah speech:
    Dear rabbis, friends and family, today I have decide to become a goy…?”

    Exactly my point! The bar mitzva “option” isn’t really an option at all….

  45. Mirah Riben says:

    Shorty – There is nothing on my blog or written by me anywhere that is “anti-religion.” I am pro- freedomof choice, including one’s right to chose the relion of their choice. What I have written in opposition to is using adoption to recruit and proselytize.

    Please see my article: “Jews and Adoption” at:
    http://www.advocatepublications.com/index.php/about-the-author/published-works-of-mirah-riben.html

    Rabbi Menachem Porush, in an article in THE JEWlSH PRESS (November 29 1985) elaborated on the great pain felt by the hundreds of Yemenite parents whose children have been missing for over thirty years, apparently to adoption. Rabbl Porush states: “Gezerah at hamet sheyishtakach min halel. It has been decreed in heaven that the deceased will eventually be forgotten, but that Yaakov Avinu grieved over Yosef for twenty years” because he was alive and missing. Isaiah asks us “Can a wo~an forget the child she bore?’ The scriptures also tell us that the worst sin of all is to “blot put their names” – to rase their identity as though they never existed – a more powerful threat than physical death. Yet this is what is done in sealed adoption.

    Rabbi Hayim Doninin his book “The Be A jew” states: ” since Jewish law does not regard children as the property of parents, the notion of transferring title of the child to someone else simply does not exist. Jewish law regard the relationship between natural parents and their offspring to be irrevocable.”

    I am most definitely NOT anti-religion. I am against those who pick and chose which portions of their religion they follow.

  46. Mirah Riben says:

    lower case on Jew above was a typographical error.

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