At In Shifra’s Arms (ISA), we follow the lead of our clients; we do not push them in a particular direction, and we support them however they choose to proceed. But we have noticed a huge stigma around adoption within the Jewish community – too many of our clients can’t or won’t consider adoption because they are ashamed.
Anyone who places their child for adoption when they are not ready or not able to be a parent should be considered a hero, not a shanda. But adoption is rarely discussed as an option in the Jewish community, because many people do not consider it to be a valid choice. The culture in the Jewish community right now is that adoption is not worth the effort.
When adoption actually is discussed in the Jewish community, it’s in the context of prospective parents looking to adopt, not birth mothers considering placing their children for adoption. Our mission at ISA is to support Jewish pregnant women with unplanned or crisis pregnancies – we are not an adoption agency. But we still get more prospective parents reaching out to us looking to adopt a child (even though that’s not what we do) than we have clients who consider placing their child for adoption.
How can we validate and support Jewish adoption?
As I recently told Kol HaBirah for their story on adoption in the Jewish community, if we want to facilitate increased Jewish adoption, we have to validate it as a choice!
Adoption can’t be discussed for this first time when someone is in the moment of crisis. We have to send the message that adoption is a holy, beautiful choice that good people make. We have to proactively affirm it before people are ever crisis, so that if they do find themselves in crisis, adoption is already a known choice they can consider.
Adoption is such a beautiful thing and there are so many people who can benefit from it when it’s done well, in an ethical, non-coercive manner and is truly the woman’s choice. The Jewish community has made headway talking about infertility, which is a step in the right direction. Now we need to create a culture that affirms adoption as a positive option, both for birth mothers and for adoptive parents.
A Jewish birth mother shares her story
We are so proud of our friend Lori Prashker-Thomas, who is working hard to address the stigma against Jewish adoption by sharing her story as a Jewish birth mother. Check out her new book, “From Mistakes to Miracles — Adoption from a Jewish Birth Mother’s Point of View.”