PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, meet with men and women who have adopted children to showcase the need for more volunteers.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Children are a joy according to Jewish tradition. Children whose lives can be vastly improved by love, understanding and a change of environment are an even greater joy.
Conscious of this, Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin in conjunction with the Summit Institute which cares for children at risk invited a broad demographic swath of adoptive and foster families to the President’s Residence in celebration of Family Day.
Rivlin told parents participating with biological and foster or adopted children that she admired their strength and courage for opening not only their hearts but their whole beings and their homes to children in need.
Summit executive director Yoni Bogot said while the law provides for youngsters to remain in foster care only through age 18, there are many cases in which such strong attachments are formed that the foster ‘child’ stays far beyond that age.
Masha, 20, was worried about what might happen to her when she turned 18. Her family had taken her in when she was eight, and assured her there was no cause for concern, she said. “I go home to hugs and kisses and all the things that happen in a family. I am part of them and they are part of me. They are my family for good and for bad.”
Orit Amiel, who heads Summit’s foster care department, said that notwithstanding the advertisements calling for potential foster parents to come forward, there were insufficient suitable applicants.
In Israel today, there are some 10,000 children at risk waiting to be placed in foster care or to be adopted.
Among the families present were haredim, national-religious, secular, Ethiopian, Beduin, and Jerusalem Arabs. All had children of their own. One religious family with eight biological children including two sets of twins couldn’t thank Summit enough for yet another set of twins – two beautiful little Ethiopian girls who were perfectly groomed and whose body language spelled total integration into the family.
A haredi family had taken in a child with special needs and said that in addition to love they wanted to give him self confidence so that he could find his place in mainstream society.
A Beduin family came with two little Mohammeds – one biological and one foster.
There are many emergency cases in Beduin society they said. They often received newborns straight from hospital and kept them until such time as a more permanent framework could be found. Sometimes it took months and parting from them was emotionally painful. In the 10 years in which they offered foster care, they took in 72 children.
Nechama Rivlin said she found such selflessness inspiring and hoped that many more couples and their children would open their hearts and homes to children in need of stable, loving families.
Also among her guests were Natan Meier and his children who spoke of his wife Dafna who was murdered by a terrorist last month.
Dafna had been adopted and the children that the Meiers had adopted in addition to their own biological children had become the joys of their lives.
“Dafna and I came from completely different backgrounds. Our attitudes toward religion were different. We should never have gotten married, but it was the best mistake I ever made,” her husband said as he cuddled the youngest of his children, who happens to be adopted.