Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, May 21, 2012


The Passover Seder is, first and foremost, a fulfillment of the commandment to "tell it to your children". "It" being, of course, the story of the Exodus. Many aspects of this long and strange ceremony are intended specifically for young children to connect to the story.

One of these is the tale of the Four Sons. The basic outline is: "The Torah is told to four sons: One wise, one wicked, one simple, and one does not know how to ask. The wise one asks, "What are all the laws and customs that G*d has commanded?" -- so you tell him every last detail. The wicked one asks, "Why do you bother with all this?" -- Since he excludes himself, you answer, "This is what G*d did for me when I left Egypt" -- if he were there, he wouldn't be redeemed. The simple one just asks, "What's this?" -- so you answer him simply.  And the one who does not know how to ask -- you must open the conversation, and tell him anyway.

This tale has been interpreted many different ways.  So I will contribute my own interpretation here. They are the different visions we have for our children.

The wise child is the child we all want to have.  He is cooperative and helpful, and eager to follow in our footsteps.

As part of growing up, however, most kids go through a "wicked" phase -- challenging, rebelling, questioning.  We would rather not have to deal with this phase, but we slog along as best we can and hope that our kids grow out of it eventually.

The simple child is handicapped or developmentally delayed.  Before he is born, we dread this child.  "Anything but that, G*d!" we pray.   However, once he is here, we love him unconditionally and give him what he needs.

And the one who does not know how to ask?  That is the unwanted (aborted?) child, the orphan.  He can't speak up for himself.  It is up to us to recognize his humanity, and to bring him, too, to our table.  It is up to us to include him in our lives.


One of my favorite bloggers, Susanna Musser, just put up yet another amazing post about these voiceless children.    It is her story more than any other that has changed the way I look at this picture:

I remember skipping right over this child when I first started looking at the profiles on Reece's Rainbow.  Too old (7), too clearly needy for me to possibly want to take it on.  Not smiling, probably doesn't walk or talk.  NEXT!

What do I see now?  Now I see his baby picture:

 ....and I imagine his face filling out.  I can even imagine a smile breaking out.  I can imagine those hollow eyes brightening and twinkling.  I can see his arms and legs growing sturdy and strong, so he can become mobile and live out his potential.  We have no medical information on him.  We don't know what other issues he might have besides Down syndrome.  But until we start the conversation, he -- and many others like him -- will remain unheard.

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