When you adopt a child, are you obligated to raise the child in the birth family’s faith? Or is it okay to raise your child in your own faith?
When it comes to issues of faith, it is hard to be objective. When you truly believe in your own religion, it is hard to imagine raising a child to believe in anything else. This is particularly an issue when you practice a religion that believes its way is the “only way.” Nobody wants to subject his child to eternal punishment for not embracing the “right” religion.
Also, having the same faith under one roof can lead to family unity. Going to services together, whether at a church, temple, or synagogue, on a regular basis can help the family to bond. So, there is a lot to recommend raising your child in the faith that you practice.
When you adopt a child as a newborn, I believe you have an obligation to tell the expecting mother what religion you practice. If she truly does not care about religion, then there will not be an issue. However, if she feels very strongly about her child being raised in a particular faith, she deserves to have the opportunity to place her baby into a home that practices the same religion. To lie to her about this topic is fraudulent.
Older Child Adoption
If you adopt an older child who is already practicing a particular faith, I believe that you need to let the child have a say what faith he wants to practice. One person cannot dictate another person’s spiritual beliefs. We, as parents, can influence our children’s beliefs, but they are the ones who must embrace the religion as theirs. If a child has already done this with a particular religion, it can be damaging to take that religion away from him, especially if his religion has provided him with comfort before joining your home.
If your faith is a very big part of your life and you would not feel comfortable raising a child who has different beliefs, you should talk about this issue with your caseworker during the home study. You can save yourself, and your child, a lot of grief by adopting a child with similar beliefs.
If you have already adopted a child with different beliefs, try to remember that you can influence but not control what another person believes. Embracing a faith is a very personal decision, and a person cannot have a belief forced upon him. People only truly embrace a faith when they make a conscious choice to do so.
Photo Credit: Rosanne Mooney