As emotionally and spiritually complex as adoption is for anyone, it is all the more so for those who adopt from different ethnic backgrounds.

"Adopting interracially is like donning a permanent sandwich board that advertises your adoption (and your infertility too)," wrote Jana Wolff, Ari's mother, in her book "Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother."

In an interview, she said, "We've increased the ways in which Ari stands out. He's different by being adopted, by being Jewish, by living in Hawaii, by having a Hebrew name. And it's very hard to think you've contributed to making things difficult for your child."

For those reasons, some consciously decide against adopting cross-racially. Rabbi Simkha Weintraub and his wife, Simha Rosenberg, had already adopted Adin, who is white, when they investigated adopting a second child.

They were offered a nonwhite baby, who they turned down. "It was a wrenching experience for us," said Weintraub. But "we didn't want to put Adin in the position of having to answer questions about his sister or brother every time they went to the playground," said Weintraub, who works as rabbinic director of the National Center for Jewish Healing, which is based in New York. "We didn't want to impose a neon sign on them."

Since then, they have welcomed Meirav, who is Caucasian and now 5, into their family.

Heightened racial consciousness is part of adopting across racial lines, and Jewish families often find themselves suddenly in the position of having to raise awareness about color-sensitivity issues within the larger Jewish community.

They also work hard to bring their child's ethnic background into their lives. For some, that means using the Passover seder to focus on the struggle of African-Americans and other ethnic groups.

For the Wolff family, it has meant seeking out relationships with African-American men in particular and making an effort to find "models of color" for Ari.

It has also meant creating "Kwaanzukkah," a blend of Hanukkah and the African-American holiday Kwanzaa, which they celebrate together with friends.

In the end, Ari had a fine time at summer camp last year. The race issue didn't come up at all, as far as his mother knows, though as she sewed name tags into his underpants before he left, they role-played possible responses to people's questions.

Ari had such a good time that this year, he's going back.