Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A REAL prayer for an adopted child

Today, someone in a Facebook group for Jewish adoptive families posted a link to the following prayer.

Prayer for an Adopted Child

By Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

"Adonai is mindful of us, will bless us; will bless the house of Israel; will bless the house of Aaron; will bless those who revere Adonai, the little ones and the big ones together." (After Psalms 115:12-13)

We have been blessed with the precious gift of this child. After so much waiting and wishing, we are filled with wonder and gratitude as we call you our daughter/son. Our daughter/son, our child, you have grown to life apart from us. But now we hold you close to our hearts and cradle you in our arms with our love. We welcome you into the circle of our family and embrace you with the beauty of a rich tradition.
We pledge ourselves to the creation of a Jewish home and to a life of compassion for others, hoping that you will grow to cherish and emulate these ideals.
God of new beginnings, teach us to be mother and father, worthy of this sacred trust of life. May our daughter/son grow in health. May s/he be strong in mind and kind in heart, a lover of Torah, a seeker of peace. Bless all of us together beneath your shelter of shalom (peace), and grant our new family, always, the harmony and love we feel today.

So far, the reactions have been positive. I get that. While I was waiting to adopt and in my first years of parenting, I might have been just as moved. But not anymore. Now, six years into parenting my amazingly articulate and resilient daughter, I'm honestly appalled, infuriated!

It's easy to be exclusively focused on the voice of the adoptive parent... until your child has a voice. A voice to express her unimaginable grief. A voice to ask questions about her birth family, people who suddenly become a thousand times more real in your mind, because their absence pains your child so deeply, a pain you can only marginally soothe.

And to me, the focus on the joy of the adoptive parents in this prayer without acknowledging the loss experienced by the birth family or even the child is profoundly non-Jewish! This prayer is not the Judaism that brings me the strength, patience, and courage I need to comfort my grieving child and raise her to know that we can experience great pain and still be a genuinely happy, fulfilled person.

I am no rabbi by any means and I have never even considered writing a prayer before this moment, but I'm giving it a try now.

Prayer for my adopted child: To acknowledge the simultaneous joy and sorrow in adoption

God of painful endings and joyous beginnings, please keep me ever mindful that the joy I feel at becoming a parent is built on the pain of the woman who bore this child who I will call my own and that the source of my joy will be an unhealed wound for this child I will love with all of my heart for the rest of my life.    

Give me the wisdom and the words to talk honestly and openly with my child about her origins, even when she needs to hear it in the middle of a rough day for me. 

Provide me with the tools I need to help my child deal with feeling alienated and if she's bullied, keep me from going off on the bully, because that would cause more harm than good.

Keep me compassionate and patient when my child rages against the injustice of it all, and my role in that injustice. 

Help me to be a model for her to learn that we are not defined by our circumstances, but by how we deal with those circumstances. 

Help me show her that in Judaism, joy and grief can and do stand side by side in a fulfilled life. Give me the creativity and community support to create a rich Jewish life for our family that is deeply meaningful to her so that the strength of the Jewish people will bring her comfort in times of pain and strength to the family she one day creates for herself.