On Tuesday night, December 14, Rosie O’Donnell and I will be
conducting a public conversation in New Jersey about families and kids, the
celebrity culture and the affects of fame, balancing work and career, and
learning how to inspire our children.
It’s a subject Rosie is eminently qualified to address. This is, after
all, the woman who walked away from one of television’s most successful
programs and tens of millions dollars per year in order to raise her children.
It will be followed by a fundraiser for Turn Friday Night Into Family Night,
our national campaign to create weekly family dinners so that children are
prioritized in the lives of their parents.
When I told a religious friend about being inspired by Rosie adopting
four children, he said to me, “How sad that these kids are never going to have
a father.” Lost on him was the irony that without Rosie they would not have a
Now, Rosie has a media microphone and can fend for herself. But I
think about all the other gay adoptive parents who are under assault as being
ill-equipped to adopt. We’ve heard all the arguments. Gay parents who adopt
will make their children gay (offensive and stupid). Every child deserves a
mother and a father (I addressed this above). Gay is an abomination, to which I
would respond that leaving a child to grow up in an orphanage where nobody
wants them might be an even greater act of sacrilege.
But to my fellow straight people I offer
the following challenge. You have every right to oppose gay marriage. It’s a
free country. We don’t suppress opinions. But aren’t you under a moral
obligation to adopt the children in their stead? Surely leaving kids to drown
without love is deeply immoral. But to stop others from rescuing them is an
I am the father of nine children, thank
G-d. I have at times discussed with my wife the possibility of adopting a
child. Every child is a child of G-d, not only our biological children. They
should have a home and we should offer it. But my conversations have never gone
past just that, conversations. I stand in awe of all those who actually do it.
In my religion, Judaism, there is no higher mitzvah, G-dly deed, than raising a
child with no parents as your own. This is G-d’s child and really He should
have made provisions for him. But the Creator chooses, for reasons unknown to
us, to hide behind the veil of nature and it is we humans who must fill in the
seemingly empty spaces. Those who adopt are society’s and religion’s greatest
We all agree that every orphaned child is
of infinite value. Some of us, however, pay mere lip service to the ideal. Others
dress, feed, and hug these children every day of their lives. They wake up in
the middle of the night and nurse crying babies back to sleep. They hug their
troubled teenagers and counsel them through life’s disappointments. They go to
work every day to pay for College and weddings. Gay or straight, they make us
all look small by comparison. And it would seem to me that it takes one heck of
a lot of chutzpa to tell gay men or women not to adopt when we refuse to do so
The same rule would apply to those who
insist on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. No problem, oppose gays in the military. It’s
your right. You believe it compromises military morale and combat readiness. I
get it. But surely you’re going to sign up yourself, right? You’re not just
going to deny a gay man or woman the right to fight terrorists who want to blow
up innocent children and then spend your nights as a couch potato watching
football. Surely you’re not going to prevent gays from protecting democracy and
then run off to Best Buy to find a new 3D HD TV. Someone’s got to
sacrifice for this country. And if you want to prevent them from doing so, you
have to grab a rifle and dodge the bullets yourself.
A few years ago on my radio show I
interviewed two gay men who were in court fighting the government of Florida –
my home state, where gay adoption is prohibited – to adopt a five-year-old
African-American child who was mentally-handicapped. They had been picking the
boy up from an orphanage every Sunday for about a year and now wanted to adopt
him. One of the men said, “Nobody wants him. But we want him.” I choked up. The
show went to dead air. I could not speak or respond. “Nobody wants him. But we
want him.” Here was a child whose skin color for some was all wrong and whose
intelligence did not always match up. But to these two men the boy was perfect.
I believe their love for him was also
perfect and I believe that G-d loves these men for their dedication to this
child, irrespective of how we view the morality of their relationship.
I am an orthodox Jew. Judaism and the
Bible have been the center of my life for all my 44 years. But if religion has
not taught me to respect all men and women who adopt an unloved orphan and be
inspired by their example, then it has failed to bring out my humanity or
change my heart.
That some would prefer that unwanted
children remain in orphanages rather than in warm and welcoming homes is a sad
commentary on the self-appointed morality police of our time.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a world-renowned
relationships expert, having authored 24 books on parenting and marriage,
including the critically-acclaimed best-seller ‘Ten Conversations You Need to
Have with Your Children.’ Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.