I am a rabbi and live with my husband, Yosef, and our five children in Jerusalem. Two of our kids are adopted. Perhaps because my parents welcomed two foster children into our home, for a couple of years, I knew I wanted to adopt when I was still a kid. It was so obvious in my mind that I never discussed it with Yosef — it was simply the plan. “Should we adopt before we have biological kids?” I asked. Or, “Maybe we should just adopt. It’s silly to make new kids when there are so many already here who need us.” My great fortune was that he happily went along with it. In any case, real conversations were unnecessary because Yosef and I are both instinctive in the way we make decisions. We have never once made a pro and con list.
The summer before our wedding, in 1992, I brought Yosef to a meeting of prospective adoptive parents sponsored by Washington, DC, social services. The paperwork we got that night stayed in my backpack for years, through the births of our two older daughters (turns out that the night of the meeting I was pregnant, I just didn’t know it yet). I kept the papers way past their expiration dates, way past the years we lived in D.C.. They were like an identity card. Not of my name and address, but of something more real, more essentially me.
One Chanuka when the girls were five and three, we sang songs in the light of the candles, and it felt like there was so much joy and love that our family of four couldn’t contain it all. (Note: it was a MOMENT, much unlike the day-to-day Get In The Car NOW, Where Are Your Shoes, and Is That Glue You’re Pouring on Her Head?) “It’s time,” I said to Yosef. Within a year I brought nine-month-old Adar home from Ethiopia. And, as impulsively as we’d done everything else, when Adar was four Ashira was born and then, when she was two, four-year-old Zamir joined us from Ethiopia. Our family was, finally, complete.
Because of adoption, all five of our children understand that they are part of a big, complicated world. That they are complicit in it and meant to take responsibility for it. In the words of our rabbis, Lo alecha ha’mlacha ligmor, v’lo at a ben chorin l’hibatel mimena — It’s not upon you to complete the task of repairing the world, but neither are you free to desist from it.
Despite the obvious Jewy-ness of, well, me, this is a website for everyone. Being Jewish offers the metaphors and ideas with which I shape my life. But I have no need to loop you into my meshugas. If you are Jewish, and especially a rabbi, great — I have some extra resources to offer you. But the bottom line is not God or religion, it’s the well-being of the most vulnerable people on the planet — children without parents to raise and love and nurture them.
Join my family, and millions of others, on this beautiful journey. For this rabbi, raising my children taught me more about God than any holy text, holiday, or ritual ever could.