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Giving Your Child Up for Adoption in Judaism

If you are a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s understandable that you may have questions. This can be a stressful time in any woman’s life, and it’s undeniable that you are facing a life-altering decision. For women with have strong religious ties, their faith can sometimes be an additional source of stress during this time. For others, faith can be a great source of comfort, community and support during this season of life. If you are Jewish, one question that may be rising above the rest right now is, “Can I give my baby up for adoption in Judaism?”

Of course, no one can tell you what the best choice for you and your baby is. You and you alone are qualified to make the ultimate decision about what to do about your unplanned pregnancy. However, as both an adoption agency and a resource for women who are trying to make the right choice for their children, we’re passionate about making sure you have the answers to any questions you may have. If you’re wondering about the realities of being Jewish and giving a baby up for adoption, we’ve rounded up the following information to help you make the best decision.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION with any questions. Our adoption specialists would love to help you understand your unplanned pregnancy options.

Can I "Give My Baby Up" for Adoption in Judaism?

To put it simply, yes. Adoption is an honored practice in Jewish tradition. In fact, one survey shows that approximately 5 percent of Jewish households have completed at least one adoption, which is twice the average in non-Jewish homes. Jewish law says, “Whoever brings up an orphan in their home, it is as though they gave birth to him,” (Sanhedrin 19b) and history shows multiple examples of adoption. Take the story of Moses, who was adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, or Esther, who was adopted by her cousin Mordecai.

Like the practice of modern-day adoption itself, Judaism puts a child’s needs first and foremost. Whatever is best for the child is ultimately the right decision.

Is Giving a Baby Up for Adoption a Mitzvah?

“Mitzah,” for those who may not know, is an important concept in Judaism that basically translates as “command.” In more common usage, a mitzah is a good deed or a charitable act.

Many expectant mothers considering adoption want to know if adoption is the right choice. Is adoption a good deed? Is it the best thing I can do for myself and my baby? These are good questions to ask, and as a Jewish woman, you may be asking if “giving a baby up” for adoption is a mitzvah.

While we can’t tell you whether or not placing your child up for adoption is the right choice for you, you may already know in your heart what the right decision is. There are other factors you can consider, like what type of life you can provide for a child and whether your living situation is suitable for raising children. Beyond these practical factors, doing what is right for you and your baby is the most important thing.

One Orthodox rabbi says that adopting a child is a “great mitzvah,” so if you feel in your heart that placing your child for adoption is the right step, you can expect your religious community to support that decision.

If you aren’t sure what to do, we encourage seeking advice from a rabbi or trusted member of your community.

Can I Find a Jewish family for My Baby?

Absolutely. American Adoptions works with many Jewish families who hope to adopt, and if you’re interested in placing your child with members of the same faith, we can certainly help to facilitate that. If any of the following aspects of growing up in a Jewish home are important to you in an adoption situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a social worker.

  • Celebrating Jewish holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

  • The sense of community that comes with being raised with Jewish customs and laws in a community that both worships and celebrates together

  • Studying Jewish history and texts

  • Observing Shabbat as a day of rest to focus on faith

In addition to aligning with a family on religious beliefs, you can ask yourself other questions in order to identify your ideal adoptive family:

  • Do I care if my child is raised with brothers and sisters?

  • Do I envision my child growing up in a certain location or environment?

  • Aside from Judaism, what else do I want to have in common with my child’s adoptive family? Are things like political views important to me?

While you may be the only one who can determine if giving a baby up for adoption is a mitzvah, we at American Adoptions are always here to help you come to the decision that’s best for you. To learn more about being Jewish and placing a baby for adoption or your other options for an unplanned pregnancy, please call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

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