Intercultural Adoption


The Boston Jewish Film Festival is underway, running November 3-14. There are a couple screenings of particular interest to interfaith families, or those interested in interfaith and/or intercultural issues. We reviewed a couple already, and are pleased to tell you about another one now.

I Love You Mommy is a stirring documentary about one family’s cross-cultural adoption of their daughter, Faith.

With two biological sons and a daughter previously adopted from China, this American Jewish family is looking to adopt a second daughter. They agree with their children to adopt an older girl so that their daughter can have a big sister. The documentary follows the family as they travel to China, meet their new daughter, Faith, and, over 17 months, go through the struggles of becoming a family together.

If you’re like me, you might have some knowledge of adoption, and might have friends who have adopted children before. None of my friends have adopted older children (Faith is 8 or 9 years old when she’s adopted) who are also from other countries. It was stirring to see Faith’s initial reactions to her new mother (she’s scared, she cries) and to her grandfather (she steps away from him when he approaches and hides behind the adoption agency’s interpreter) — the two family members who traveled to China to get Faith. Watching how her parents react to, and include, cultural differences and celebrations is really refreshing to see, as is Faith’s acclimation to her new culture, family and religion.

It’s amazing to watch her transition, see how the family grows with her, meets her challenges, and welcomes her as a new addition to their family and home.

If you’re in the Boston area, I Love You Mommy is playing on Tuesday, November 9 at 7:00pm at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.

I recommend it!

2 thoughts on “Intercultural Adoption”

  • I am also an adoptive parent.  My husband is not Jewish.  We will have our son converted but some of my relatives (orthodox) will not consider my son  to be Jewish.  No Orthodox rabbi will convert the child of an interfaith couple.  We do not plan to have an orthopractic lifestyle and so we are most comfortable having our congregational rabbi perform the conversion in any case.

    It is true that my son will have both intercultural, and interfaith issues to deal with.  

    Interfaith marriage presents an extra wrinkle in raising an adopted child.

  • I am an adoptive parent with two beautiful children.  As an adoptive parent, there’s something about the inclusion of this on that doesn’t sit right, that in fact feels offensive.  Intercultural is simply not the same thing as interfaith.  Judaism (especially in Israel, but even in the U.S.) includes many different cultures.  Adopting a child may present intercultural issues.  However, unless the child already has a well established faith and is now being asked to change that faith as a result of adoption, it is simply not an interfaith issue (incidentally, as an adoptive parent, I think there would be significant ethical and even moral issues involved in adopting an older child of a different faith and trying to get them to change faiths because of the adoption).  Personally, I have a great interest in seeing the films, but not because they have anything to do with interfaith issues.

    Young children who are adopted into a Jewish family (and are not born Jewish) are typically converted to Judaism.  From the standpoint of Jewish law, once a conversion takes place, that child is as Jewish as any child born Jewish.  At that point, whatever intercultural issues may exist, there is no interfaith issue to speak of, and really no place on this web site for it.

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