I actually don’t know how to introduce this letter. I deleted three introductions. I wanted to get the wording just right while not offending anyone – an almost impossible task. So, I gave up. Sometimes you must let the words speak for themselves.
I’d like to introduce the letter by saying I’m a good person and love everyone. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a racist or someone with hate in my heart. But then, it sounds odd to begin a letter with “I’m not a racist but…” and I just did.
I’m concerned about children who were and are adopted by frum families that are of another race or nationality. My brother and his wife adopted a little girl two years ago. She is the cutest, sweetest little bundle of yummy that you can imagine. She started kindergarten this year. My sister-in-law told me that my niece came home from school one day and said the teacher announced to the class that Jews come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and just because we aren’t used to seeing a Jewish person look a certain way, it doesn’t mean they are different or bad or any less of a Jew. My sister-in-law asked her daughter if anyone had said anything to her in class about her looking different from them. My niece said no, and the teacher “just made the announcement.” I’m sure the teacher was trying to help, but young kids that age don’t care about race or nationality like adults do. They see a child in class, and they play together, that’s it. They don’t know if a child is different or how different the child is. They don’t care, period. My sister-in-law said that she spoke to the teacher about the impromptu announcement.
But that situation got me thinking. My brother and sister-in-law are smart people. They knew what they were doing when they were going through the adoption process. They are honest with my niece and explain things to her in ways she can understand. They are hopeful that all the kids won’t be little brats and end up teasing or excluding her, but that can happen to any Caucasian frum child also.
I am terrified when the time will come when she starts dating. Yes, it’s many years down the road, but it’s there. If people are so judgmental about the smallest inconsequential thing when redting a shidduch, I can’t imagine what they may think of my niece dating their son. I know it’s awful to say, but I’m scared for her.
My brother is part of a support group for frum people that have adopted non-Caucasian children. I’m sure this is a topic discussed. I’m afraid to ask him this question, because I don’t want him to get the wrong idea. But I do care and wonder what the reaction of others is to a young girl or man who obviously looks different and…everything else. I wonder if my brother thought of my niece dating and getting married as much as he thought about how young children will react and what he and his wife will tell my niece. It may be none of my business, but I can’t even think ignorant “heimish” people saying “no” to her and saying why they were “rejecting” her.
Please don’t think I’m against the adoption. I’m not. I just know how cutthroat the shidduch parshah is, and I shudder to think what my beautiful niece may be in for.
A Tante Who Cares
Thank you for your letter, Tanty.
You didn’t have to lead off with “I’m not a racist, but…” I understand that you want to shield your niece from any ugliness she may encounter. That’s normal.
Have some “dan l’chaf z’chus” for some in klal Yisrael. The world today is much different from what it was 50 years ago. People, even frum people, are more open-minded and accepting than before. Yes, not everyone is, but enough to make the difference. Your niece will come across hate and ugliness in all aspects of her life just as others – yes, that is sad, but true. Your niece may experience it on a different kind of level than your average Caucasian Jewish child. There are those in the world with dark hearts not willing to accept what is and instead of learning about it, they try to hurt/kill it, I don’t mean that literally. Many would call them ignorant, as you did. I agree with your choice of words. But it’s their loss for not seeing the beauty in all Hashem created, and that includes Jews and non-Jews alike, not just the sunsets or the Grand Canyon. Why wouldn’t anyone want someone as beautiful inside and out as your niece will be, bli ayin ha’ra, as part of their family? It may not have to do with her race or nationality at all, but you’re going with the obvious option. Instead of thinking of all the hurt she will encounter, think about the acceptance that she will encounter from many throughout her life and from her future husband. Don’t believe me?
Take a peek at Simcha Spot on Instagram. They feature all couples celebrating engagements, vorts, and weddings. And some of the couples resemble what your niece and her future chasan will look like. Yes, words hurt, but I am sure at that point in your niece’s life she will know what to do when encountering such hate and/or ignorance. Any hatred or ignorance – or even regular teasing that kids normally say to each other – will make your niece stronger. I was teased when I was a child, but I learned that those kids really just didn’t have anyone else to focus on or to bother, so they chose the fatty, an easy target. But my parents raised me to have great self-esteem and confidence and to know what I am worth. Now, in turn, I’m trying to instill all of that into my six-year-old princess. Your brother and sister-in-law will do everything they can to prepare your niece, and your niece may not need any preparing at all; she may be strong and confident and not care what others think of her.
Your brother and his wife gave the gift of a beautiful life to a child without parents. I am sure they thought of all scenarios the child may have as a child and as an adult. And I think this shouldn’t be a discussion you are afraid to have with your brother. If the two of you are close, he’ll know this comes from a place of love. If the two of you aren’t that close, explain why you’re concerned.
I write about dating. People date others who are much older, younger, skinnier, fatter, more plain or more flamboyant than they are. They find that these people are the ying to their yang, the Abbott to their Costello. Hopefully, most people find their zivug right away. But most of the time reality doesn’t work like that. Just know that whomever your niece will date has already 100 percent accepted who your niece is.
Hatzlachah to you all!