Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Jewish Girl reflects on her Adoption and on the children of Torah

This D’Var Torah was written by a 14 yr old Jewish girl, adopted into a Jewish family after three years in foster care.  The adoption was finalized last week, the morning before Rosh Hashanah.  The newly adopted girl went to mikvah, changed her Hebrew name to match her new mother’s and gave this D’Var Torah to her Jewish Community.
For purposes of publication, the location has been removed, the names have been changed, but the love remains intact from the first draft to the final..
My First Dvar Torah of My New Life

Tonight and tomorrow we will read prayers that talk about God as our Father.  Avinu Malkeinu.  God is my king and my father, but today I have a new mother and a new brother.  Becca is too old to be adopted in a courtroom, but she and I both consider Deborah our mom.  We even invented a new word.  Imanu Debreinu.  Our ima, our Debbie.  A real parent right here on Earth.

The Torah readings for Rosh Hashanah are all about parents and kids. Even the haftarah talks about a mom who wants a child, and about how someone else makes fun of her because she doesn’t have one yet. Her name is Hannah, and she eventually gets a son, but she can only raise him the first few years.   God doesn’t zap the woman who was teasing her about being childless, and maybe that is OK. 

Having kids is important, but so is treating them right.  In Torah, people are always wanting sons, but Debbie is happy to have us as daughters, and that may be even better.  

        Back to Torah.  Sarah wants a son, but she doesn’t think she will have one.  Abraham has to choose between his first family (Hagar and Ishmael) and his second family (Sarah and Isaac), and ends up making his first family leave with only a bottle of water and some food. In my opinion this is not good parenting. I think that God told Abraham to listen to Sarah and send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God should have also made him send them with enough food and water for a whole journey.  Abraham is always sending his servents and camels to do errands and keep people company. He had extra people to help with the akeida story. With Ishmael, should have sent someone to see that his oldest son got safely somewhere else.  Maybe he should have even gone himself, get them settled, and then go back to Sarah and Isaac.  He should have been a dad to both of them.

Also, I think that it was bad parenting for Hagar to leave Ishmael alone when she asked God for help.  Kids know that parents are not perfect and it would be better parenting if she stayed with him and held his hand and let him see her ask God for help.  And let him see that God answered. Actually, God herd Ishmael’s cry and not Hagar’s. So that is more profe she should have stayed.  I know that if my new mom and I ever were in a desert with nothing left and no water, she would stay with me and hold me.

In the other story for the second day I am glad that God changed his mind and that Abraham saw the ram and sacrificed that instead, and I am bothered by Abraham’s decision to offer Isaac as a sacrifice just because God asks him to.  Why didn’t he argue more?  Did he think that God sent angels to tell him and Sarah they would have a son even when they were old, and then gave them a son, just to kill him before God kept his promise about making his descendants as numerous as the stars?  
Also, I wonder if Isaac had to go to counseling because his dad put a knife so close to his neck and almost sacrificed him.  I bet Ishmael needed counseling too after feeling abandoned by his dad and then by his mom, and wondering why.

In the Torah and the Haftarah on Rosh Hashanah, women ask for children.  Not just Sarah and Hannah, but Rachel asks for children also in other places in Torah.  Maybe that is OK, but it isn’t the only way to become a mom.  Back here in America, my ima Deborah wanted to have a lot of children, but God only gave her Jonah.  He’s a good kid, and I like him, and he has a car which is totally awesome, but Deborah didn’t get mad at God after she had miscarriage babies three times. Instead she opened her heart and her home to kids like me and my siblings, and she made a family. She took us even before she knew if she could keep us. She has had eight foster kids total and the number of kids who have spent a night or two, while things straighten out at home is, more than the number of the stars. 

I think maybe someone should have told people in the bible about adoption. My birth parents never tried to kill me or my siblings,  and they never kicked us out of the house with a day’s food and waterm but they have problems and they can’t take care of us any more.   God is still our father and now Deborah is my official mother for real and Becca’s mother in a practical way.  I hope God gives my birth parents a sweet new year and on Yom Kippur I will forgive them for not being able to love us enough.  Avi is still my brother even though we have different last names today, and I hope God sends him a sweet year too.
I will sing “avinu malkeinu” during the holidays but I will also thank God tomorrow for sending me “Imanu Debreinu”.  I love you Ima! Thank you for adopting me.  And you too Jonah.  You don’t get to cast us off into the desert if we touch your WII or your car keys.  We are family now. We get to pester each other until we are ancient.
Thank you for listening to my dvar Torah.
Ilana bat Devorah

No comments:

Post a Comment