Re: Adoption

Kenneth G Miller (
Fri, 01 Aug 1997 01:57:03 EDT

There have been several posts recently about Jewish people who adopt
non-Jewish children. I have heard that the reason they do this is that
Jewish orphans are frequently of uncertain parentage, and so they will have
a difficult time getting married, because anyone they meet could
potentially be a forbidden relative. In contrast, when a non-Jewish child
converts to Judaism, his family ties are severed; having no relatives, he
is free to marry any Jew.

I do not understand this at all!

(1) Those Jewish orphans will have a difficult time marrying whether you
adopt them or not. The adoptive parents are not helping them in any way by
adopting a non-Jewish child. The only problem which gets solved is that the
adoptive parents will have one headache fewer. My heart goes out to orphans
of all faiths, but family comes first. Being an adoptive parent is a
tremendous sacrifice, in many many ways, and that sacrifice will bring
tremendous rewards - in mitzvah value, and in other ways. Now, given the
choice between giving so much of yourself to be a parent to a needy Jewish
child, or a needy non-Jewish one, all else being equal isn't it a much
bigger mitzvah to adopt the Jew? I grant that finding a spouse for that
child will be a major problem, but he will have that problem anyway, with
you or without you. Is that headache so big that it justifies choosing a
non-Jewish child?

(2) Question 1 was a theoretical question, applicable to many times and
places. Question 2 is more practical and modern. Nowadays, I would imagine
that it is very rare to find a child who is clearly Jewish, but is of
unclear family. I would imagine that if a child is known to be Jewish, then
the child's family is also known, to the adoption agency at the very least.
Even with the many rules in place which would ensure that the child and
birth family stay out of contact (I am not necessarily in favor of this,
but it is a practical reality) is it not feasible to adopt a Jewish child
and simply not have these anticipated problems when he grows up?

I would really like to hear from other people about this. Thanks.

Akiva Miller