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Letter: Planning our Family

by Rabbi Chaim Bruk

While visiting my ailing mom in Brooklyn, just a few months before her untimely passing, I shared with her the exciting news that Chavie and I were going to adopt a second baby. She pondered the idea that we’d have adoptive Irish twins, thirteen months apart, and after a few moments, she gave me her loving motherly look and asked “Why so quick? What’s the rush”? I’m still uncertain where my answer came from, perhaps directly from my soul: “Mom”, I said, “I thought we don’t believe in family planning!”. She smiled, accepted it, and shared my witty comeback with whoever would listen.

I am getting ahead of myself, so let me back up for a moment:

Six months after Chaya brightened our home, just as we were beginning to figure out baby life, my office phone rang. “Hi Chaim Shaul”, calling me by my full Jewish name, “This is Rabbi Schapiro. I want to ask you something. I don’t know if it’s my place, but I’m trying to help”. Earlier that winter, Chavie had spoken about our Chaya’s adoption at a conference of two thousand women, who, like us, lead Chabad Lubavitch community centers around the globe. It turned out that the Rabbi in New Jersey had a congregant who had a relative that was pregnant and looking for an adoptive family.

We were immediately interested.

Judaism teaches that large families are a gift not a burden. Every child has infinite value and despite the expense, exertion and periodic household chaos, the more children in a home, the merrier. Yet, as Chavie and I knew too well, despite its great blessing, one cannot choose to have lots of children, or, for that matter, whether to have children at all. Only G-d decides that. I often hear couples discussing their family plans “We are going to have three”, “We plan on having just one more and then tie my tubes” or “we’re hoping for one boy and one girl, because two is our maximum”. While I understand the intent of their statements, the truth is that no one can ever choose to have children, only whether not to have them. A couple can join together in marriage with the hope, prayer and plan to have a full house, but the actual family planning is decided by G-d.

So when another baby came along we were all in.

Zeesy, born in September of 2010, graced our world three weeks prematurely. A fax (yes, at that time the fax machine still existed) delivered the news as we were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret with Chavie’s family in San Antonio. Being half way across the country, unable to travel due to Judaism’s’ holiday restrictions, knowing that our baby is awaiting our warm embrace, was agonizing, but we knew we’d hold our baby soon enough.

As soon as the holiday concluded, two of my siblings made the trip from Brooklyn to the Jersey hospital to cuddle our Zeesy. The next morning, with Chaya in tow, we boarded the puddle jumper that took us from South Texas to Newark Liberty International Airport, where we met our beloved Zeesy for the very first time.

Now, how many parents can say they met their baby for the very first time at Enterprise Rent a Car?

Zeesy immediately added to the delight of our home and after a while, with two babies at home, I really didn’t understand how anyone could handle more than two. I’d have internal conversations in my mind, I would tell myself: “don’t let Chavie convince you to adopt anymore”, “I don’t know how so many of my friends have seven or eight”, “I admire those who are so much better at this than I am”.

I knew I had enough love to share with more children, but I didn’t think I had the energy.

Yet, G-d has a sense of humor.

In October of 2012 I received a phone call from a renowned Jewish activist and the moment he started talking, I knew it: here comes another one. So after hanging up the phone and sharing the news with Chavie, I got to work. You see, all adoptions require immeasurable work, to ensure that everything goes smoothly. A social service agency does a “Home Study”, visiting the home and learning about the parenting skills and temperament of the prospective adoptive parents. I often quip that if every biological parent would have to go through this process before giving birth, families would be a lot stronger.

Sure enough, in 2013, we stood just outside the delivery room in the maternity ward and just moments after the birth we welcomed little Menny into our life. From the first moment, his two older sisters, fell in love with him; playing with him, singing to him and even cuddling the little man. Whether to friendly strangers in the grocery or good friends at our home-based Synagogue, they constantly showed him off like a winning prize. It was amazing; three kids with totally different gene-pools came together as siblings and shared a love for each other that was heartening.

Chavie is the oldest of nine (eight girls and one boy) and I’m the second of five. When we married, we hoped having at least a Minyan of children and the disappointment of infertility made that number harder to attain, but our fundamental philosophy remains the same. G-d is the Bruk family planner just like He’s everyone else’s.

Even though we’d be delighted to adopt a child once per year, it’s not up to us. I do my part, networking worldwide, to ensure that people across the globe know that we are looking to enlarge our family, but when G-d feels like it’s time for another one, He sends one our way and we welcome them with familial love.

Let Him do the planning; we should stick to parenting!

The Bruks direct Chabad Lubavitch of Montana and Rabbi Chaim Bruk is Spiritual Leader of The Shul of Bozeman.

14 Comments

  • 4. Adoption? Just say NO! wrote:

    Sorry, but I’m not impressed. The Rebbe addressed adoption and highly discouraged it. What about the biological mothers and families to these children????? Instead of “adopting” anymore children, maybe offer tzedaka to a single mother or family in need? You write that biological parents should get scrutinized the way you were before adopting. By saying that you are calling Hashem’s infinite wisdom and judgement into question!!! You don’t think Hashem does His own “home study” on parents before blessing them with a child????? And the Aibeshter’s “home study” is far more thorough than one performed by man! I don’t want people to be impressed by this article and G-d forbid copy you, or G-d forbid think adoption is ok. Adoption hurts and traumatizes everyone except those profiting from it. Adoption is inherently schizophrenic.
    Adopters think the same way Abimelech thought when he took Sarah. “I will give Sarah a better life than Avraham ever could! I will make her Queen and shower her with riches! No more of this wandering Jew lifesytle!” Torah says NO!
    I’m so sorry that conceiving a child has been challenging, but don’t give up. This only means Hashem is testing you and you are on a very high level similar to all the Avos and Imos.
    I pray you will be blessed with your own children someday. Maybe then you will experience the bond between parent and child – the same bond that you helped to dismantle through adoption.

    Reply
    • 5. Anonymous wrote:

      I must start off with a compliment. Usually people as smart as you cannot write so many cohesive sentences. Try very hard to think what is the better alternative to a healthy frum family adopting these precious neshomos? Do you think the other option was to stay with their original family?

  • 6. Amazing! wrote:

    Amazing people!
    You’ve given lots of us ‘food for thought!’
    What an inspiration!
    Besurois toivois to you and wonderful family:)

    Reply
  • 7. Zev wrote:

    To #4. You are a pretty cold and cruel person. First of all when a child is given up for adoption it’s because the biological parents or parent do not want it, So if this child was not adopted they would be living a miserable and loveless life. Second of all I presume that you were blessed with children so you do not understand the anguish that these people may be going thru by not having children.
    Third of all adoption at such a young age will definitely allow the parents & child to have a strong bond and in many cases a stronger bond then many children have with their biological parents.
    The Rebbe did caution that people who adopt will have to be very careful with yichud and touching as the children grow older. However he also qualified that by saying if the parents are aware that they have to be careful and the children and people in general know that these children are adopted he said that people can adopt.
    There are a few cases in highly thought of lubavitcher families where the Rebbe gave the okay to adopt so do not criticize these peoples choice.

    Reply
  • 8. SHOCKED!! wrote:

    I read no.4’s comment with disbelief and total shock!
    I even question why CH info agreed to publish it!
    How cruel and insensitive and selfish can you get!
    Do you honestly and truthfully think that the Bruks would not have given everything and anything to have their ‘own’ children biologically!!?
    How dare anyone pass judgement, especially the kind of judgement that you have just done, without carefully weighing up your words and considering first the pain that this could cause!!
    I echo the sentiments of Zev, and repeat that what you have have written is poshut cruel and unfair!
    I would say that you ask for a public mechilah on this very website here, where you put your comment on, for all to see!!
    BH for people like the Bruks who give their homes, loves and very lives actually to those who were unwanted and uncared for by their ‘real’ parents!
    Its Parents like the Bruks that we should admire, respect and look up to, and yes, learn from! and until you or yours are in that situation, DONT judge-and condemn, as you have done!
    Shocked to the core!

    Reply
  • 9. Mazel Tov wrote:

    On your beautiful family. I hope #4 children don’t grow up to be so judgemental.
    My only criticism is ‘hoping to have at least a minyan.
    Judgemental opinions go both ways and families who cannot have or cope with large families also shouldn’t be made to feel guilty.
    Size of families or how children come into a family is no one’s business.

    Reply
  • 10. To #4 wrote:

    You are clearly insensitive. This is a couple who is suffering because they cannot have children of their own, and you go and bash the way they are trying to help babies whose parents do not want to raise them. Kol Hakavod to them for taking in these babies and bringing them up as their own.
    You care about what the Rebbe said about adoption, but how about Ahavas Yisroel for these Yidden who are in pain.

    Reply
  • 11. Thank You for Sharing wrote:

    May Hashem give you the strength and wisdom to raise your children to Torah, Chupah and Maaseem Tovim.

    Reply
  • 12. Chasidus Applied wrote:

    R’ Simon Jacobson might talk about adoption in one of his Sunday episodes. This is the second time I’ve heard about the Rebbe’s alleged view of adoption, which frankly comes across as deranged. Naturally ‘Just Say No’ cited no sources.

    Reply
  • 13. Ch wrote:

    The Rebbe actauly told couples to adopt to add bracha and hopefully Hashem will bless them with a Biological child.
    Sorry your so depressed and synical. Simcha is important. It brings Shalom. And it seems ur not so into Shalom.

    Reply
  • 14. i am adopted wrote:

    and the Rebe gave my arents a bracha for me, so #4 get over yourself
    and Rabbi Bruck, ad Rebbetzin Bruk, wow you sound like amzing ppl your kids are lucky

    Reply

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