Monday, February 13, 2012

Religion & Adoption/Foster Placements

As I've mentioned before, past adoption practices required matching of adoptive parents and children on all kinds of factors from socioeconomic background to hair color and texture to religion.  We've also discussed in the context of international adoption whether maintaining a child's culture meant also maintaining a child's religion.  And then a few months ago I posted about a proposed statute in New Jersey to require foster and adoption placements to be in homes that would “maintain a child’s religious upbringing,” because of concerns about children being “put in a home where the parents practiced a religion other than that of the child.” From what I can tell, the bill died in committee, but has been reintroduced this legislative term.

With that background, I thought folks might find this article in the Jerusalem Times interesting:
The Haifa Family Court officially declared a five-year-old girl ready for adoption on Sunday, while criticizing social workers for taking years to file for the adoption order.

The child, “Baby P.,” is the daughter of a single mother of no stated religion, and a Muslim Israeli Arab father. For the past four years, the child has lived with a haredi (ultra- Orthodox) foster family, which has since expressed a wish to formally adopt her.

* * *

In her ruling, Judge Esperanza Alon slammed a decision by social workers to place “Baby P.” for such a long time with a foster family whose religious and cultural backgrounds, she said, were very different from the child’s own. Alon said “Baby P.’s” identity and fate remained under question for many very significant years.

“Under the Adoption Law, social workers are supposed to place minors with foster families with the same or similar lifestyles and religion as their biological families,” Alon said. “It was not right that she should have grown up in a haredi family, when the gaps between the community into which she was born and the one in which she grew up have such significant differences.”


Anonymous said...

I simply don't know enough about either religions to comment as to the disparity between the two, but it would seem if her bio. Mother had no ties to formal religion, then perhaps she would have been brought up without any religous background?

My point: its simply hard to guess.

Furthermore many people change religions or "find" religion ( of many types) in later adulthood, rejecting one over another.

No one can guarrantee a child will be brought up with their intented religion in any home, bio. parents or adoptive. Intended religion often being a relative term itself.

One would imagine that perhaps a greater criteria for placing a child would be finding a healthy, loving, stable and decent home; regardless of religion.

Dawn said...

This is a very hard question and I'm not sure a line can be drawn in the sand. On one hand finding a healthy, loving family is incredibly important. However honoring the child's culture is too. I struggle with the number of families who adopt children then ignore at least teaching about the faiths from their birth cultures. Even in China there were families in my travel group who refused to even visit the temples because it was an affront to their particular Christian beliefs, yet they were bringing home children whose history is rooted in Buddhism and Confucian teachings. I think it is important learn about and learn to respect these the faiths of our children's heritage. Even if one doesn't practice the dominant religion from his background, it still has a profound influence on lifestyle, government, core values, diet, etc...

Anonymous said...

But again, educating yourself on different reilgious beliefs is not the same as practicing.

As with Culture it will never be "exactly the same."

So at the core of it all, becomes the essential strength of the family. And at their best, a family should leave open the possibility of an adopted child one day choosing another religion (or no religion) for themselves.

To me that is the epitomy of a healthy/loving family.

And to Anon. #1's point; I do agree that its hard to predict anyone's religious values down the road or the absence altogether of said beliefs.

Forcing them into a "study" of the religion of their birth place is no more right or wrong that ignoring it IMOP.

Anon. 2

Anonymous said...

Where I live, there are many adopted Chinese girls being raised Jewish. They go to Hebrew school and have Bat Mitzvahs.

I often wonder if it religious or is it cultural?