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Just thought it might be nice to add a spot where our friends of the Jewish faith can share their tradition and the impact it has had in their journey to adoption and beyond! (My mother's family were Russian Jews but she did not grow up in the faith so what little I know of it I've gotten from her twin, a practicing Jew living in Hawaii who's become something a family legend over the years-- oy vey! Think Dame Edna in a mumu and toting a harp around!) And y'all wonder where I get it? (Sorry, Aunt Wendy!) wink.gif

So-- a variety of questions, just to get some dialogue rolling! What led you to consider using an adoption agency other than Jewish Family Services, which has been so prominent in the placement of children over the years? Does your temple do anything special to honor adoptive families? How did you explain your beliefs to birthparents of differing faiths, who wanted to know how you would raise your child? How did you handle the issue of circumcision vs. bris? What advice would you offer other Jewish couples just beginning the adoption process?

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Just wanted to wish all our Jewish friends and families a joyous Rosh Hashanah! (And for all those among us who are not familiar with this holiday: learn more here!) To really celebrate in style, tr

And just to put another spin on this Elizabeth - are there any non-Jewish parents who have adopted a child of Jewish heritage?

Our daughter Kayleigh is Jewish (her birthmother and birthmother's family are Jewish) and I am very interested in helping her appreciate her connection to her Jewish community although I've needed a little help and guidance along the way (one of my biggest fears was how Kayleigh would be received by the Jewish community since we're not Jewish). However, I was fortunate to have recently met a new friend who is Jewish (was Reform but now is Conservative) through a friend and have been emailing her (she lives in Chicago) and talking with her about ways I can better introduce & expose Kayleigh to her birth heritage and culture (one idea she had was to contact our local Synagogue to see if they can find a family who will let us participate in Seder with them next year at Passover). Anyway, I'm learning as I go and just trying to do the best I can to offer Kayleigh the opportunity to understand her roots - I feel its an honor to be born Jewish - not many people can say they were and my hope is for her to realize that and feel some sort of connection.

Anyway, just thought I'd see if there are any other parents like us, not Jewish but the proud parents of a child of Jewish heritage?

I'm a total sponge on this topic - this will certainly be one I follow closely! The Jewish community is quite small in my town (if it even exists) but my understanding is there is a large community in Richardson, TX which isn't too far.


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And just to put another spin on this Elizabeth - are there any non-Jewish parents who have adopted a child of Jewish heritage?

Our daughter Kayleigh is Jewish (her birthmother and birthmother's family are Jewish) and I am very interested in helping her appreciate her connection to her Jewish community although I've needed a little help and guidance along the way (one of my biggest fears was how Kayleigh would be received by the Jewish community since we're not Jewish).  However, I was fortunate to have recently met a new friend who is Jewish (was Reform but now is Conservative) through a friend and have been emailing her (she lives in Chicago) and talking with her about ways I can better introduce & expose Kayleigh to her birth heritage and culture (one idea she had was to contact our local Synagogue to see if they can find a family who will let us participate in Seder with them next year at Passover).  Anyway, I'm learning as I go and just trying to do the best I can to offer Kayleigh the opportunity to understand her roots - I feel its an honor to be born Jewish - not many people can say they were and my hope is for her to realize that and feel some sort of connection.

Anyway, just thought I'd see if there are any other parents like us, not Jewish but the proud parents of a child of Jewish heritage?

I'm a total sponge on this topic - this will certainly be one I follow closely!  The Jewish community is quite small in my town (if it even exists) but my understanding is there is a large community in Richardson, TX which isn't too far.




I owe u a long email about raising Jewish children, except I am learning as I go. I was not raised in a traditional Jewish household and amworking towards having a more religious home...so I willing to explore andlearn right along with you.

I went with a non-Jewish agency because I frankly didn't thinkI was "Jewish enough" for Jewish family services to consider me,so I didn't even try. Not being Christian was factor for Gabriel's BP when she looked at my profile, and she asked me directly how I was planning to raise children. I assured her that I would raise children that would have a rich,personal experience of God, and know that God loved them...and I left it at that. She had never met a single Jewish person in her whole life,and I told her that I apperciated her directness.

Parker's conversion will take place July 3rd. We will take a dip in the ritual waters and say our prayers with the Rabbi's. Of course lunch will follow, bbecause what's a party without the food. laugh.gif

Lisa- Have you thought about giving kayleigh her hebrew name? I think getting to know a rabbi in your area and getting hooked up with another familywith small kids to celebrate the holidays with? In fact some Christian churches even celebrate the old testement traditions like passover.

more soon

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Hi Heidi,

Thanks for responding!!!

No problem - it's so strange that "ask and ye shall receive" thing....(or just know what you're looking for and it will materialize) - a few days after I messaged you, a friend of mine and I were talking about Kayleigh's adoption, birth-family, etc - I mentioned to her that Kayleigh was Jewish and my desire (and guilt about not really doing anything) to expose her to her Jewish heritage, etc - she said "Well, I have to introduce you to my friend who is coming in for a visit for a few days - she and I have been friends for a long time, she's very open and I'm sure will answer any questions you have (oh yes, and she's Jewish)"

Anyway, we ran into each other while dropping our kids off at preschool and she introduced us and I just went right in with all my questions and she was just wonderful - she was raised Reform but has found that she leans more toward Conservative and attends a Conservative synagogue now. Just a wealth of info - I just wish she lived here - she lives in Chicago but thank goodness for email. That day, we spent about 3 hours getting a Judaism 101 lesson!

Anyway, one of my concerns I raised to her was that I wish I would have known about the Jewish naming traditions when we adopted Kayleigh because I would have liked to have honored that. She told me it's never too late to get a Hebrew name - and suggested the same thing - perhaps we could have a Rabbi do that. I do plan to do that but am wanting to wait a few more years - I have this fantasy that someday, Kayleigh's birthmother will contact us or Abrazo and we'll be one of those happy reunion stories that Elizabeth posts about on here. Anyway, I would just love for her to give Kayleigh her Hebrew name - I would love to honor Kayleigh's birthfamily that way at some point in time - but, if that doesn't happen and Kayleigh begins asking about the name - at least we have a Plan B.

What I explained to my new friend is I had tried in the past to explain to Kayleigh what little I knew of Jewish traditions (Hannukah, Passover, etc) but it just didn't feel authentic to me because I wasn't raised celebrating those times and it just didn't feel like it was coming from my heart - it was more of an education and I want Kayleigh to be exposed to it in a very authentic way - I think that will help her feel the connection more - which is why what I really wanted to do was to get more involved in the Jewish community (playgroups, preschool, community center, etc) so she could get it from people who it's been passed to from generation to generation - and it is just second nature.

Anyway, I've rambled enough - no need to write me a long email (unless you just can't sleep sometime), I stumbled into another person who has been answering all my questions (she told me that if we're not well received by a Synagogue or group of people, to move on to another because she thinks most anyone would be thrilled we're trying to keep Kayleigh in touch with her Jewish roots - same as what I feel which is not everyone can say they were born Jewish and for those who are, it's important to keep knowledge alive and passed on to future generations.


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I've done a lot of ministry work in this area and have several good resources. Just give me a call or PM me. I took a couple of classes through a group called the Institute of Hebraic Christian Studies (http://www.rbooker.com/html/ihcs.html) here in Houston. They covered the Jewish roots of Christianity. It really made me see how much we're connected, even though the church hasn't recognized that for many centuries! I also used to be a docent at the Holocaust Museum.

If you and your husband are Christians, you may want to consider going to a Messianic Jewish congregation. I have been to their services and they are quite wonderful. They are just like traditional Jewish services (more like the Conservative branch, not Orthodox) but they believe in Jesus as the Messiah.

Hope this helps!


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Hi All, Shalom

So I figured I would jump in on this one as I have some prior knowledge. I am a bonafied Jew, born and bred biggrin.gif My parents were a little confused growing up and while they were batmitzvah'd, my sisters and I were not. They were of the school of ask your kids what they want and let them just be themselves. They asked us if we wanted to go to Hebrew school and we said no, hence we didnt go. They now regret it but its a little late. We also didn't keep Kosher or go to Temple every week. However, we celebrate all of the holidays and I try to fast on Yom Kippor (sometimes I cant because of stomach issues).

The reason I didn't use Jewish Family Services is because my husband Scott is Roman Catholic, good reason huh???. We will raise our children with knowledge and exposure to both religions, but with the basis on faith in God. It actually makes holiday time easier except Thanksgiving and the july 4th for example.

Elizabeth, my family is also from Russia and then moved to England, then America. As far as advice to couples starting the process, I dont think that religion really plays a role if you use Abrazo. What I mean is, that if you are really religious you would use Jewish Family Services or say Christian Health Services or an agency that is religious. While I know that the Abrazo ladies are women of God, I see you more as non-dinominational spiritual people. Myself being Jewish I never felt out of place here or like a second class citizen. I have always felt like our mutual belief in God united us.

As far as the messionic church, they are also called Jews for Jesus if I am not misunderstood. From what I have been told, they are as different to Jews as say Christian.

I learned something the other day that I thought was interesting. I heard someone speaking on the different religions and he said that we are all so similiar that if we really knew there should be no fighting over religion. He said the Jews came first, had their beliefs and are now waiting for the Messiah. Then Christianity was just the same philosophy's except, hey the Messiah did come and it was Jesus. The Muslim took it a step farther and said, Jesus was a great man, but Mohammed was the Messiah. I found that to be so interesting. If we all stopped and took a look we would realize that we are all so similiar and where we are different we should be tolerant and celebrate the diversity not fight about it.

Ok, stepping off my soapbox. But as a Jew outside of the east or west coast, we are very misunderstood. I will never forget a girl moving to my school from Michigan when I was about 12. She didnt believe I was Jewish because she was always told that we had tails blink.gif Crazy stuff huh. Even in college I had a roomate from Minnesota and she said I was the first Jew she had ever met up close.

Wow, long post I guess I had something to say about this issue. Lisa if you want to know anything just ask. I am just happy that there is something that I can actually help you on.


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Oh my, Sandi! I can't believe the ridiculous things that girl was told! I thought I had heard it all, having worked at the Holocaust Museum, but that is just bizarre.

I appreciate your insight and I think your perspective is very helpful! I'm glad you're here to share a Jewish perspective.

FYI, Jews for Jesus is a specific ministry and you are right, that they are not well liked within the Jewish community (I think mostly because of their evangelism tactics). But they are not representative of all Messianic Jews.

Elizabeth, thanks for starting this post!

On another note, there was recently a Jewish holiday that is SO fun to celebrate, which is Purim. It is where the entire book of Esther is read and some of the congregations will create musicals around it, and all the children dress up in costumes and boo Haman. I do have to wonder why the church stopped some of these great celebrations of God's miracles (like Hannukah, too!)...they are great!

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P.S. Heidi (and others), have you checked out The Source for Everything Jewish?  My friend gave me the link - they sell lots of Jewish stuff including toys & books for preschoolers.



thanks for the link. Parker's conversion is scheduled for July 3rd and since I was able to take Gabriel in the mikva, I have asked my Mom to do this with Parker. She is thinking about it. I think she is worried that I "should " do it. But I think she would really love it, it was a very moving experience. I will let her decide.

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What's a mikva? What made taking your son into it such a wonderful memory? Do tell! smile.gif

And just out of curiosity, are those who adopt babies born to birthmothers whose moms were Jewish still required to undergo the conversion rite? (Somewhere, I think I had heard that children are "born Jewish" if their mothers were Jewish, but not necessarily if their fathers were...?)

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Very tired blink.gif .

I was going to post something but I forgot what I was going to say. That's bad isn't it?????

Should this post go under baby brain, except I don't have a baby anymore rolleyes.gif .

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From today's New York Times (yes, THAT NY Times, for all you Bushies out there!!!) comes this excellent article about the ethical questions related to conversion for children who join Jewish families through means other than birth: "I May Not Have Been Born Jewish, But I'm Getting There As Best I Can."

In case the link should go bad, here's what reporter Judith Berck says is standard wisdom on the subject:

The answer to the question of who passes on Judaism, the birth mother or the egg donor, varies among branches of Judaism.

In Reform Judaism, the point is moot. "We determine who is Jewish much more by upbringing and commitment than by birth," said Rabbi Harry Danziger, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. In 1983, with mixed marriages on the rise, the conference resolved that a child is presumed to be Jewish if one parent is Jewish, as long as the parents and child formally identify with Judaism.

Conservative Judaism clarified its position in 1997, when the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly took up the question of surrogacy. "The sole position is that the religious status of the child follows that of the gestational mother in cases involving surrogacy and in all other cases," said Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. The assembly holds that children born to a non-Jewish surrogate would require conversion to be recognized as Jewish.

In the Orthodox tradition, rabbis are split on the subject. They look to Halachic sources — the Torah, Talmud and other Jewish texts — and come to different conclusions. "It would seem from the Talmud that perhaps maternity is not just defined by the genetic gift, but by the nurturing process that happens within the fetal development," Rabbi Brander said. "Others say no, it should be defined simply by the genetic gift." In practice, when the donor is not Jewish, most Orthodox rabbis perform a conversion on the infant, just in case.

There is a longstanding tradition of infant conversion in cases of adoption.

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Thanks Elizabeth...you sure fine all the good stuff.

I am Jewish, born to a Jewish woman but have not been raised in a religious home. Gabriel went thru the mikva conversion and it was a wonderful experience. I remember thinking that this a ritual that binds us, him to me and him to a culture that is 1000's of years old. For me, it felt like God had entrusted me with his spiritual upbringing and having the rabbi's bless us while standing in the holy water was very moving. It was very a very soothing and comforting experience and I will be doing the same with Parker at the end of July. I have also "found" a local temple that seems diverse and we will be attending our 1st Tot Shabot this month.

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Parker went thru the ritual of conversion to Judism on Monday, so now he is officially a member of our "tribe", forever known as Idon Shalon, meaning the time of peace. 1st I bathed him and then he was taken into the pool of Holy water ( a mikvah) by his grandmother ( my mom) to be completely submersed 3 times. I recited the ancient hebrew blessings from the waters edge with Gabriel in my lap. And the rabbi's declared that Parker was a mitzva ( hebrew for blessing). Parker handled everything so beautifully...not a tear ..he actually loved just floating around in the water. Pictures soon.

It was a special day for the Kristall family since we were able to share the mikvah with two other adoptive families that have become very important parts of our lives..it was a celebration of how blessed we all feel to have completed or familes thru the magic of adoption.

ps...gabriel was just happy that Grammy didn't "put him under the sea" like she did to Parker.

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We are seeking a Jewish family for a two-month-old Anglo baby boy with Apert Syndrome (see link under my post in Nursery Notes, under Looking to Adopt.) If any of our forum readers with a connection to Jewish Family Services in their area could call their homestudy workers to inquire about available special needs families and refer them to speak with Angela, our family services coordinator, we'd be most appreciative! Thank you!

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From the online edition of WASHINGTON JEWISH WEEK, 8/10/2006 :

When Jews Can't Multiply: Pain of Infertility Hits Hard for Many

by Eric Fingerhut, Staff Writer

Melissa Ford can't help crying during the portion of the Passover seder about how the "barren women of Jerusalem will rise up and have children when the Moshiach comes."

Fall synagogue readings of Genesis can be tough, as well, she says -- with Sarah waiting 100 years before giving birth to Isaac, and Rachel telling Jacob, "Give me a child or I'll die!" triggering painful memories.

"I relate to Sarah and [am] worried for her, even though I know the end of the story," Ford says, adding that she can't fathom the 100 years that Abraham's wife waited.

Her own infertility lasted 18 months, an experience that will always be a part of her. It is something women "don't let go, even if they've had children," says Ford, who now has 2-year-old twins.

While she and others who have struggled with infertility believe that the Jewish community generally deals with the issue as well as any religious group, they see room for improvement -- particularly in the way synagogues sometimes put such a strong emphasis on children.

Infertility -- defined as the inability to conceive after one year of attempts (six months if the woman is over the age of 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth -- affects 6.1 million people in the United States, or 10 percent of women of the reproductive age population, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

With recent surveys showing that many Jewish women are marrying later in life and putting off having children until well into their 30s, the percentage of Jews affected could be even higher.

"It's an epidemic in the Jewish community" and "the reasons are well known," says Temple Shalom's Rabbi Michael Feshbach, who dealt with infertility, including two miscarriages, with his wife before the birth of their three children.

But in a religious community where the biblical invocation to "be fruitful and multiply" is emphasized, not being able to conceive a child can bring questions.

Olney resident Ford, 32, notes that Jews are "pretty open about talking about" having children. Questions about children start at the wedding and inquiries like "are you guys trying?" and "when are you going to give me a grandchild?" are commonplace, she says.

But such well-intentioned inquiries can sting for someone having trouble conceiving, says Michelle Batabba Avda of Woodbridge, who grappled with infertility for five years before giving birth to a daughter eight months ago.

For part of those struggles, she lived in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community in Boston. "Everyone has lots of children," she says, and is always asking "aren't you pregnant yet, why don't you have children yet?"

She longed for children desperately, and such questions made her feel the impact of her infertility "that much more strongly."

"It's really hard" to be childless in a community that emphasizes family so intensely, agrees "Hannah," an Orthodox woman from Montgomery County who did not wish to be identified. After 11 years of attempts, she and her husband have since adopted two children.

Hannah says, though, that she and her husband "are very upbeat people" and that they made a point to "get out there and not mope."

"You make sure not to become reclusive and participate in everyone's joyous occasions," she says. "We were going to put a smile on our face ... as difficult as it was."

She notes that some in the community offered comforting advice, while others would choose them for the honor of the kvater -- the person who brings the child into the room for a brit.

Tradition says that a childless couple given the honor will receive a special blessing to have a child, and Hannah says that she and her husband received that honor "many, many times."

Yet, events like a brit or a baby naming can be the most painful for infertile couples, says Ford.

While she and her husband, Josh, ended up attending most of them, "there's a lot of tears leading up to the event" and sometimes on the way home, as well.

"It's hard to want that so badly and still see the joy," she says.

"Some people find it selfish É because we have a culture of 'tough it out,' " says her husband, 34. But in some cases, he notes, one can be a "better friend [by] not being there."

Feshbach didn't just have to attend such life cycle events -- as a rabbi, he officiated at them. But he was able to cope with that by reasoning that "it's not as if they got our baby."

"I personally was able to be very happy at every baby naming I was at," he says.

Even though "for the most part, the Jewish community is very supportive of infertility," Melissa Ford finds a "divide between women who have children and those who don't."

For men, the entree into adulthood seems to be their first job, but for females, it is having kids, she says.

"There's a certain status given to women with children" which has subsided somewhat in recent times, but is "still a benchmark by which many women are judged," says her husband.

And thus, trying to have a baby often becomes a topic of discussion at synagogue. Melissa Ford says that other congregants at Adas Israel's egalitarian minyan were the first to give her advice on infertility.

She joked that the Shady Grove Fertility Center sometimes looks like "Adas [israel] minyan, part two."

But her husband says the emphasis in synagogue on family can sometimes hurt.

"The synagogue tradition, all the children come up onto the bima. ... That was a really painful time," says Ford, director of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. "It was painful to see it, week after week. You feel your infertility then, feel you're left out of the celebration."

He also felt a sense of powerlessness during the process.

"From a male perspective, what's so frustrating is you can't fix it," says Ford, adding that guys usually want to be "problem solvers," but there is "very little you can proactively do."

Ken Reid, 47, of Leesburg, had a similar feeling. "You have no control [of it]," he recalled.

He says going to meetings of Resolve: The National Infertility Association and talking to others with the same issues helped a great deal.

"You can't sit back and do nothing," he says, but have to "make things happen" and make decisions about what course of action is best.

One answer can be adoption. Hannah says the community was quite welcoming to her adopted children, who were born Jewish -- a choice she and her husband made because, she says, "in the long term, it would make adjusting to life easier" for her children.

"Kids always ... search for [their] identity," and by adopting Jewish children into a Jewish family, "we don't feel we've deprived anyone of their own heritage."

Not every Jewish couple is able to adopt other Jews, though. Now the father of twins who will be 10 next month, Reid and his wife had pursued avenues for adoption before conceiving.

But it can be tough to grapple with that, he says, particularly because so many couples have to go overseas or find a birth mother willing to place their child for adoption.

As he says an adoption attorney quipped, "You're not going to find many pregnant Jewish girls in Potomac to give up a baby."

Noting that congregants in his synagogue, Shaare Shalom in Springfield, have adopted babies of other races and ethnic groups, Reid points out that the Jewish community is "accepting" and that "it doesn't matter [how one] looks, they will certainly be welcomed into the community."

Feshbach agrees, noting that "there is a blessing that has come out of [infertility] -- the blessing of adoption."

The synagogue now "looks like a mini-United Nations. The face of 'Who is a Jew' ... is very different than it used to be. ... What it means to be a Jewish family is very different than it used to be."

As for what the Jewish fertile world can do to lessen the pain of the Jewish infertile, Reid cites a way to make adoption easier for families.

Accompanied by a shift in his political outlook in the past decade from left to right, Reid says his family's struggle with infertility "drove home the point" that abortion is wrong.

"There's a million people getting pregnant" and having abortions each year and "there's no effort to marry them with couples" who can't have a baby, he says, leading to many couples going overseas.

Others suggested that synagogues could sometimes be more aware of the emotions among the infertile.

Feshbach says the Rosh Hashanah haftarah reading, which details Hannah's struggle with infertility before giving birth to Samuel, is "so painful for some people" that he is considering substituting an alternate portion.

While it eventually turns out OK for Hannah, people have told him they "don't come to synagogue when it is read" because of the emotions it stirs.

(Hannah is just one of five women who suffer through infertility in the Bible. In addition to Sarah and Rachel, Rebecca and Michal fall victim to it, with Michal, who laughed at David when he was naked, being punished by God with infertility.)

Avda says her family's struggle was more difficult because "we didn't have good Jewish support at the time," although they are now starting to build such support at Ner Shalom Congregation.

She hopes synagogues would be more aware of the feelings of childless couples. While shuls will often plan activities for singles and families with children, young married couples without kids often seem to get left out. And "families who want to have children feel it even more," she says.

Feshbach stresses that he is focusing on making the synagogue as welcoming to the childless as those with children.

"I believe we have to focus on spiritual community in synagogue life just as much as pediatric Judaism. ... Ultimately, the synagogue community has to be a spiritual experience for everyone there ... a place where we can become whole" that goes beyond the religious school, says Feshbach.

"It takes a village to raise a child," he says. "There are plenty of child raisers among us who do not have a child, and they, too, are a blessing."

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Chuck and I are both Jewish, and pretty strongly identified (though not overly religious-- that's the thing about Jews that Christians and others don't seem to have... the "cultural" aspect beyond the actual worhsip). We're Reform/Conservative, not Orthodox, and have been active in a temple since just after we met. Once we got to Italy, I actually served as the "lay leader" when the Rabbi got deployed to Iraq. (We finally got a new Rabbi posted to our area last month, so my days of mini-rabbi are finally over, hooray!)

The funny thing is, we never really thought to go to Jewish Family Services. First-- we met Angela at a military overseas adoption conference and felt comfortable with her immediately, and we never really thought of going with any other agency after that. But second, we assumed that JFS wouldn't give us a "Jewish" baby anyway, since we've assumed that it is somewhat rare-- for lots of reasons-- for Jewish babies to be placed for adoption. (Lisa, I'm thrilled to hear that we're not entirely right...). I've read one wonderful book (The New Jewish Baby Book, by Anita Diamant) that actually addresses adoption within the birth experience for Jewish parents, and really feel like our baby will be Jewish simply because her parents are Jewish-- us!

For those questions that people have had:

A baby born to a Jewish woman is "automatically" considered Jewish, by Jewish law. Any other baby (or adult, for that matter) must go through a conversion process to be considered Jewish by all Jews. Big caveat-- if you want your baby to be considered Jewish by all Jews, including Orthodox (and have the right of return to Isreal at some point), make sure that the conversion is done by an Orthodox rabbi, not a Reform or Conservative one. This is tough for us, since Chuck's cousin is a Reform rabbi and performed our wedding, and we would want her to do this for us as well... but even she says that she'll participate but we have to have an Orthodox beit din (council of 3 rabbis) to actually perform the ceremony.

Part of the ceremony involves a mikvah or ritual immersion in a "living" body of water (one that flows from a river, ocean, stream, or other non-stationary body). A mikvah is used for all sorts of life transitions, and also for the monthly purification ritual surrounding menstruation. (I haven't been... I've always wanted to, and meant to at least before our wedding, but somehow never got around to it.)

Lisa... I'd be more than happy to help in any way I can as you go forward. Chuck and I would be more than happy to play the role of Auntie/Uncle when it comes to Jewish issues. When I get back home (I'm on work travel on and off throughout this month), I can send you a list of some books that would be really useful. Off the top of my head: Choosing a Jewish Life and Living a Jewish Life, both by Anita Diamant (pretty much anything by her would be a great bet)... Blessing Over a Skinned Knee (can't remember the author) and the major standard, The Jewish Book of Why I and II.

So I have a question/concern to share with y'all. The one big thing we're worried about is that a birthmom won't choose us because we're Jewish. I'm sure some won't want to place with us because we're not Christian, but have any of the other Jewish parents had a longer wait or trouble placing because of their faith? Is it something that you highlight in your profile, or just kind of gloss over? I've got pictures of us in Israel in our draft profile, which I wouldn't ever think of removing... but I don't really talk about our Jewish faith or anything. What does everyone think?

Elizabeth, thanks for starting this string. Clearly, it struck a chord with me, since this is by far the longest post I've ever written!!


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You're welcome, Lauren! As far as being concerned about birthparents' response to your Jewish faith, I would neither "gloss it over" nor make it The Most Important Thing (if it's not.) The truth is that the "right" birthparents for you will be the ones who don't have a problem with it. Period. While many South Texas birthparents may not be very familiar with Judaism and therefore may have concerns about it, you can always make this an opportunity to educate those who are interested about your faith and its rich heritage. Although some birthmoms do specify that they want their baby to go to a family of a particular faith (and if they do, it's usually Catholic or Baptist in these parts), many others are more concerned with wanting to know that the child will grow up in a "good" family that can teach them right and wrong, who will respect the open adoption covenant, and help that child to understand why the adoption decision was made. So include in your profile that which is important to you! and don't worry about "turning off" those who cannot appreciate the things in life that you value. The best match is made of kindred spirits, and somewhere out there you're sure to find yours! :)

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Elizabeth, thanks... that helps. I know that intellectually, that the right birthparents will want us as we are. But years of conditioning die hard (my parents used to "Americanize" our last name when making dinner reservations... but then again, they saw some pretty awful anti-Semitism that I was lucky never to experience).

For all-- if you have any questions about these "Jewish" issues (especially Jewish law or customs), both Chuck and I are pretty well-versed and very well-connected with lots of rabbis... so we'd be happy to answer any questions or get the answers for you if we don't know off the top of our heads.

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Hi Lauren,

You are soooo kind!!! Thank you so much - I would love for Kayleigh to have a sort of Auntie/Uncle who also share her heritage/roots. I think I've posted this on here before but I feel Kayleigh was priviliged to have been born Jewish - not many people can say they are of Jewish heritage and the last thing I want to have happen is for her to lose that connection (although I'm doing a lousy job at the moment of establishing the connection too, I've yet to contact our local Rabbi to look into sharing Sader (I think I spelled that right) with another family in the area (on the recommendation of a friend of a friend who is Jewish (but lives in Chicago, I met her while she was visiting our mutual friend who was gracious enough to arrange for Ellyn and I to meet and spend some time talking because she knew how important it is to me to honor Kayleigh's birth heritage). Anyway, I think I haven't done it because I just find it so intimidating - not really knowing what to say, how to say it - and the fact that we're not Jewish (but also very open and interested in learning other cultures and traditions - especially those shared by our daughter's birth relatives) I am just very self-conscious about making that call - so hopefully I'll get the nerve up again after chatting with you more. Also, Elizabeth posted something on here and it really let the wind out of my sails - it said something about how the Jewish community didn't necessarily view children as Jewish unless their parents are practicing Judaism (or something like that - I'm sure I got that all wrong as I'm relying on my frazzled memory but I do remember it said something contradictory to what everyone else had told me about the Jewish community). I consider Kayleigh Jewish - she may not currently practice the Jewish religion (yet! I have hopes that if we establish some connections now within the Jewish community, she'll find her place and be drawn to that part of her identity and choose to honor it as well (and maybe, she'll even marry someone Jewish someday and really feel a connection and will learn from his family and their children will be raised Jewish and......... - okay, I'm getting ahead of myself - Lance just rolls his eyes when I start going down that path - he says, "Lisa - she's still wearing pull-ups at night! Can you please not talk about marrying her off & grand-kids yet?" But anyway - to me, her roots are sooooo cool - there is just sooooooo much history and depth with regard to Judaism - and I just want to make sure that she doesn't lose that through being adopted by parents who aren't Jewish - granted, her birthfamily, from my understanding are non-practicing but still, I'm sure there are just some fundamental things that they do based on their Jewish background that we don't do - so, anyway...I'll get off my soapbox - and basically just wanted to say thanks so much for your offer and I will take you up on that - I find it especially cool that you guys will share the adoption connection with her as well.

As for your concerns - well, I can see where you're coming from - Lance and I do not go to church and I was a nervous nelly about whether or not anyone would choose us since we don't attend church and don't have plans to take our children to church (grand-mothers may have other plans...but anyway - that's just something about us)...I felt like birthparents would consider us heathens (which we're not - we're just not into church)...anyway, I didn't put much emphasis on that in our profile - didn't even mention church to be honest and what I've found is that the 3 birthparents who chose us, also did not attend church on a regular basis - so, it didn't seem to be a big deal to them and I worried for no reason. My bigger concern, actually was my weight - I was nervous that a birthparent was looking for a Barbie and Ken to adopt their baby and Lance and I just don't quite fit that profile - well, as you can see - I'm on my third match at the moment and none of them seemed too bothered by the fact that I'm not Jennifer Aniston's twin. So....as everyone will say - there is a right birthparent for everyone - just be completely honest and truthful about yourself, your lifestyle, your interests, etc and it will make the right match even more right because you will find that you and that person really click and share many similarities (the first birthmother we were matched with, even asked me during our initial phone call how we would respond to our child if they came to us and told us they wanted to explore other religions...the fact that we are so open minded about religions and interested in learning about other religions was viewed as a plus to her - she was looking for a very open minded couple).

See you very soon!


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More than happy to help. As for your intimidation, I totally understand. I actually hate going into a new synagogue myself, thinking that I'm not "Jewish enough" and they'll look down on me... and I grew up around it! But if you find the right synagogue, they'll be really open to you and your situation, and teaching you about the traditions, etc. I can find out from Chuck's cousin if there is a synagogue in your area that she'd recommend. The rabbi community is small (there is only 1 school-- with 2 campuses-- that Reform rabbis can go to) so she'd know if there was an open rabbi in your area. I'd shy away from the messianic synagogues-- that, to me, isn't about Judaism... I'll stay off my soapbox or I'll probably offend someone, but if you want Kayleigh to know about her heritage that isn't the route to follow. You can certainly look at a Reconstructionist temple if you are wary of the religious aspect, since they're more about the culture than the actual belief in God (or at least that's how it was explained to me as a kid).

Let me clarify the "not Jewish" comment-- what the real deal is when it comes to Jewish law is that ANYONE born to a Jewish mother is considered Jewish, no questions asked. It has nothing to do with how they were raised. So Kayleigh is absolutely Jewish in the eyes of even the most religious Jews simply because her birthmom was. The issue lies in the fact that NO child is considered Jewish if the birthmom isn't Jewish unless you take proactive steps to make the child Jewish, hence the mikvah ritual that was discussed earlier.

And as for your weight issue, I've been looking through all of our pictures to find the ones where I don't look chubby. That's probably not even for the fact that I think they won't choose a heavy mom to adopt their kid... more just my own vanity. Doesn't help that I'm living in Italy, and have gained entirely too much weight because of pasta and pizza, let me tell you.

Feel free to email me offline (you still have my email address, right?) if you want to discuss specific questions you have with Kayleigh.

Can't wait to meet you. I'll be a wreck at Sept. orientation-- my (work) travel schedule leading up to the weekend is brutal-- but I'm sure emotions will carry me through the weekend regardless. I can't believe it is so close!


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Hi Lauren,

I was born Jewish and plan to raise my boys Jewish...how about being adopted, being black and being raised by a single cubby white women to give birth mothers nightmares... :P

I did the mikvah ritual with both my boys and it was so very special. I wasn't raised with a temple background..we went only for weddings and bar/bat mitzva's. BUT I plan on doing it differently for my boys and have been making the effort to go to service once a month ( My boys are 3 1/2 and 6 months) I was given my 1st set of shabbot candles as a gift during Parker's mikva....now I just have to figure out how to use them. We will go to Sunday school together and it's my "Plan" to be bat mitzva with my oldest son...but we'll see!

I was with a Catholic adoption agency for my 1st son and not being christen was an issue for some birth mothers, so when I meet with Gabriel's birth mom ( daughter of a baptist minister) I was shaking. She told me she had never met anyone Jewish before and want to know one thing...would I teach him to love God? And I promised her..THAT I could do! The right situation and the right birth parents will love you and want ONLY you to raise that special child.

Safe travels


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Thanks for your encouragement. I'm sure the right child will find their way to us... but it is hard to wait!!

I'll make you the same offer that I made to Lisa-- feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. Between my husband and me, and also his cousin, we should be able to point you in the right direction on the basics. I think the idea of doing a bat mitzvah with your son is a great one-- and both of you will gain so much from it.


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