Jewish Adoption FAQs
Jewish tradition puts considerable emphasis on the concepts of family, children and continuity — "Be fruitful and multiply" and L’dor va dor, "From generation to generation." While there are no laws surrounding adoption in Jewish tradition, there are many allusions to it in both Biblical and Talmudic sources.
Ametz provides information to adults, children and the professional community regarding building families through adoption.
After reviewing the questions and answers below, remember to clarify with your religious leader how adopting a child will be honored, celebrated and accepted in your community.
In addition, Ametz offers two booklets: Adoption and the Jewish Community and Infertility and the Jewish Community (available through our main office).
Is adoption permissible within the bounds of traditional Judaism?
Adoption is not only acceptable, it is encouraged. Traditional sources teach us that the parent is the one who educates, nurtures and raises the child, and need not be the one who gave birth to the child.
Is it possible to adopt a child who is Jewish by birth?
Possible, but unlikely. Generally, relatives provide homes for children. Before pursuing the adoption of a Jewish child, consult a rabbi or religious leader to discuss the relevant issues for your family.
If we adopt a child who is not Jewish by birth, can we raise him/her as Jewish?
Anyone at any age — infant, toddler, older child or adult — can be converted to Judaism. A rabbi should be consulted regarding what process is most comfortable for your family.
Is it fair to raise a child as Jewish if his/her birth parents are not Jewish? What do I tell my child about his/her birth parents' religion and his/her conversion to Judaism?
What you tell your child about his/her origins is entirely up to you. In most situations, the truth, modified to your child’s level of comprehension, is the best option. An adult adoptee once said, "My birth mother gave me life. My [adoptive] mother gave me everything else, including my love for Judaism."
Will my child be accepted by others as Jewish?
Once your child is converted, s/he is Jewish. However, it is important to give the conversion process careful consideration. The experience of most adoptive parents has been acceptance of their children, regardless of racial, ethnic or religious origins.
Is there a place I can talk to other Jewish couples and singles who are considering adoption or who have already adopted?
JCCA's Ametz Adoption Program offers several groups, including the New York Stars of David Chapter, a group for Jewish and interfaith families who are considering adoption, in the process of pursuing adoption, or have already adopted.
Where can I get information on adopting Jewish children?
Ametz does not place Jewish children for adoption. You can contact the Jewish Children's Adoption Network for additional information on Jewish children.
For more information on services for Jewish families and the booklets: Adoption and the Jewish Community and Infertility and the Jewish Community, please view Adoption and the Jewish Family or email us or call 212-558-9949.