Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Taking Care of Our Own - by keeping them!

At synagogue services this morning, I spoke about my project with several people, and got some positive responses.  One friend pointed me in the direction of Heart to Heart, run by Rabbi Goldstock, who also has this blog.

Most liberal/secular Jews in this country, like most "cultural" Christians, use prenatal diagnosis and abortion to avoid "having to deal with" a child with Down syndrome.  Orthodox Jews, like religious Christians, are opposed to abortion.  Also, like religious Christians, they tend to have large families and continue to procreate until menopause, resulting in a larger-than-average incidence of Down syndrome.  Unfortunately, in some communities this still causes a social stigma for the parents, who then frequently relinquish these babies for adoption.  Most of the adoptive families are Christian.  Therefore, these precious souls are lost to the Tribe.  Rabbi Goldstock is working to reverse this trend, working with Orthodox families and communities to support them in keeping children with Down syndrome, as well as providing them with educational and other resources as they grow older so that they can stay in and contribute to the community.  He gives the example of a boy who was supported in spearheading an inclusion program in the local Yeshiva (religious school).  Not only did this boy get an incredible advantage from this experience, but his classmates scored well above average on both academic and ethical achievements.  He attributes this to their experience stretching themselves to support a disabled peer.

This highlights two aspects of the Jewish response to orphans:
  • First, that we want to help parents in crisis keep their children, so that they do not become orphans in the first place, and
  • Second, that when a Jewish child is adopted by non-Jews, while individually it is a good thing, in the big picture this is a loss for the Jewish community, nearly as much as if that child was aborted.
In my project, I hope to reach out to congregations in my community across the religious spectrum, and create a place where we take care of our own -- as well as others.

1 comment:

  1. Just the other day we were talking about this with my brother. They had their now almost adult daughter with DS when they were living in the States and were a lot more religious than now. In their community choosing non-Jewish adoptive parents for disabled children was preferrable over choosing non-Orthodox Jews! I always found that weird.


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